Country teaching post opens new horizons for Griffith grad

She has been teaching in the special education program at Emerald State High School in western Queensland for more than a year and loves living in the rural town.

“This is new for me but suits me so well. I have a busier social life in the country than I ever did in the city,” she said.

“There are plenty of social groups with sports, dance, craft, pottery, cooking and fishing and water sports. It is very community-oriented and so much more relaxed than the city.”

After a few years working in medical science in Brisbane, Imogen decided to change careers and become a teacher.

“I chose special education because I have family members with disabilities and so understand the family perspective in living with disability.

“I also know disabled students have to work so hard to function in society and find it more difficult to learn the social, communication and functional life skills required for living.

As well as literacy and numeracy classes, Imogen teaches social skills, cooking, sewing, agriculture and community access.

“Everything is built around the idea of functional life skills. We work with the students and families to determine their specific personal and academic needs.

“I love having my own class and students. I enjoy the consistency of seeing them every day and having the chance to interact and teach them all sorts of things.

“I really enjoy working with teenagers. They bring their own set of challenges which differ to primary education. But they are making the transition into adulthood and it is so exciting to see.”

As a part of her role as an educator, Imogen also liaises with the Department of Child Safety and Youth Justice.

“Some of my students are in the foster system so these departments often need some input from the school in helping them determine the best course of action for these students,” she explained.

Imogen worked two jobs while studying full-time but says she was taught that hard work and determination will always pay off.

“And it did. I had a full-time job offered just one week into my 10-week internship in fourth year.”

Imogen is looking forward to many more years teaching students with disabilities in the country.