Different paths lead to Cobram for graduate teachers

By Dylan Arvela

Cobram Secondary College welcomed two new full-time teachers to the school this term, with the Melbourne University graduates having vastly different paths to the town.

Math teacher Hayley Strickland is from Mt Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula.

Ms Strickland had a position lined up close to home before her placement in Cobram but was offered a job after the placement and she loved the area and decided to stay.

‘‘The support here is really good and there is a really tight-knit feel,’’ she said.

‘‘Within the first week I know every teacher’s name and four weeks in and I already know over half of the student’s names.

‘‘The staff here are very close and very supportive which I hadn’t felt in my previous two placements.’’

While she lived only a short drive from the second biggest city in Australia, Ms Strickland said childhood memories played a part in her decision.

‘‘My dad is from Donald and we always went back there when I was a kid,’’ she said.

‘‘He’s a country kid, so I have always wanted to get that sort of experience.’’

Ms Strickland’s new colleague, English and humanities teacher Stephen Brooks returned to the region after more than a decade away.

‘‘I have been working overseas for the last 11 years, I have been in the commodities and trading industry for 15 years,’’ Mr Brooks said.

‘‘I came back to Australia and wanted a change of direction and I was interested in teaching.

‘‘I did my placement, I was hoping it was going to be good, my expectations were very high and I really loved it.

‘‘The job came up the end of my placement, I applied and before I went overseas for a trip I had already planned I was told I got the job so I flew back and four days later I start this semester.’’

Mr Brooks has a strong connection to the region with his family having lived here for generations.

He said he was invested in seeing the next generation succeed and was grateful to start at the school alongside someone who shared that feeling.

‘‘This is my home, this is my area,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s quite funny to see kids at school that I played footy with their dads and their uncles — the typical country experience where everyone knows everyone.

‘‘I have strong views that education is really important, especially for regional kids.

‘‘Something that was really great to see was someone from outside the area, like Hayley, so see the same thing that I see in our town and appreciate it the same way I do.’’

College principal Kimberley Tempest played a key role in getting the teaching duo to the school.

She was delighted to have them on board and felt teaching in a country school was a brilliant way to begin a career in education.

‘‘We are pleased to recruit such high-quality graduates,’’ she said.

‘‘The lifestyle is a really attractive option for teachers in the country.

‘‘It’s not a commute for an hour and a half in traffic and there is a strong sense of community.

‘‘When you work in a larger town, you can feel quite isolated but in a small town, you know everyone and you are really invested in seeing kids succeed.

‘‘We, as staff, are invested in each other and we are a part of this community.’’