Update from the President – Aug/Sep 2015

Thank you for the positive comments regarding the July 2015 edition of the newsletter. Thank you to those of you who have contributed to this edition and to those of you who have indicated that you will be contributing articles in the future.

My vision for SPERA is to reach out and to form partnerships with other organisations that, like us, want to provide educational opportunities, innovative projects and experiences for children in rural, remote and regional parts of Australia. After all, our mission is to “link people with a diverse range of interests in education and training to promote the development of rural Australia.”

I see our role as going beyond preparing teachers to teach in rural areas and in providing quality education services in these rural contexts. We work to provide quality education, innovative practices, conduct research, prepare rural, regional and remote students for a diverse range of careers, including tertiary training and better preparing professional people in a range of occupations for employment in rural, regional and remote communities.

It is for this reason that I am proud to announce that one of our keynote speakers for this year’s SPERA National Conference is Professor Sabina Knight, the National Chair of the Australian Rural Health Education Network and the Director of the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health.

We also have parallel sessions regarding “Strengthening partnerships in mental health promotion in rural communities,” presented by a team from CQUniversity Australia, Curtin University, Queensland Department of Education and Training and Queensland Mental Health; and “Living and working in rural communities: Preparation across the professions,” presented by teams from Griffith University and Charles Darwin University.

Within our SPERA membership, we now have an engineering student and a drama student. Both attended rural schools and are now attending regional universities.

I have invited kindred organisations to contribute articles to our newsletter so that we can develop an appreciation of their goals and activities.

The activities of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), which is headed by our own Professor Sue Trinidad, are very much aligned with our own and I would like to see us developing a partnership in this.

These kindred organisations are very supportive of SPERA and our activities, including sponsoring presenters and pre-service teachers to attend our conference.

In this newsletter, we introduce the Queensland State P- 10/P-12 School Administrators’ Association. The majority of this association’s schools are situated in rural, regional and remote locations.

Thanks to the NCSEHE, we will be featuring Josh Arnold and Small Town Culture at this year’s conference. As a reviewer, I recently had the pleasure of reviewing a rural P-9 school, Yarraman State School, in the Darling Downs region. Josh Arnold has worked with this school in developing a school song, which was played at the assembly and the students sung with pride. Josh is an impressive man and is doing fantastic work with rural communities and in particular with the children. I also saw Josh in action at the ICPA (Qld) State Conference last year.

Our 2015 Conference Director, Jodie Kline, has provided an update on our conference and I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the closing date for the early bird registrations has been extended to Friday 25 September 2015. I remind you that this date is for the cheaper rate only and that registrations will still be open after that date.

As in previous years, our conference is being sponsored by SPERA member and rural school principal, Peter Shearer. Peter owns a vineyard and is a viticulturist. His label, Wykari of Clare, includes award-winning wines and will be available for order at a discounted rate at our conference.

We have commenced advertising for pre-service teachers to apply for scholarships to attend our National Conference. This will provide them with the opportunity to network, learn about the innovative practices that occur in our rural and regional communities and educational institutions. I would appreciate it if you could bring this opportunity to any pre-service teachers with whom you come into contact.

When I attended my first SPERA conference in 2011 at Flinders University, I met an impressive young man named Nathan Williams. Nathan was Bachelor of Education student at the University of Southern Queensland and was a recipient of a pre-service scholarship. Nathan has since graduated not only with his Bachelor’s degree, but with a Masters and will commence his doctoral studies next year. Nathan will be attending this year’s conference as a presenter, and he has contributed an article about his experiences since the conference, in this newsletter.

I am very grateful to the generous support to the following organisations for their sponsorship to enable preservice teachers to attend the conference:

  • Department of Education and Training (Queensland);
  • Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Toowoomba;
  • Teachers’ Mutual Bank;
  • Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (Queensland); and
  • Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (Northern Territory).

Congratulations to Lisa McAuliffe, a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) student at Curtin University who has been awarded the 2015 Broadley SPERA Award for Outstanding Regional Student, having excelled in her education subjects. This award is jointly presented by the Broadley family. Dr Tania Broadley is one of our respected members and is a member of the Journal’s editorial team.

In future editions, I would like to share the profiles of not only our Executive but also the profiles of you, our members. I invite you to write in and share your stories with us. I also intend to commence a section of the newsletter titled, “Looking back: reflections of rural education in the past.”