With a pedigree going back four generations, teaching runs in the Fineran family. However, it’s taken Leah Fineran a little longer to take charge of her first classroom.
After 10 years of her byline appearing above newspaper reports covering everything from courts to sport and council to general news, Leah left journalism to begin a teaching degree through Griffith University’s School of Education and Professional Studies.
And while education may indeed be familiar family territory, in Leah’s case the transition to a new career came with considerable challenges.
Newly single and with two daughters — Isabel and Eloise — under four years old, Gold Coaster Leah admits that at times it was difficult juggling the demands of motherhood and her English/Drama studies at Griffith.
But after graduating in December and having secured her first contract that will see her teaching Year 11-12 English at Benowa State High School during 2016, Leah says the long days and late nights were worthwhile.
“Coming from four generations of teachers, it was always in my mind that I might do teaching at some point,” she says.
“But when I was younger I wanted to do something different and, for someone with a natural curiosity, journalism appealed to me.
“I did a Bachelor of Journalism and a BA majoring in media communications and drama before joining the Beaudesert Times in 2004 for my first reporting job.
“After two years there I went to the Gold Coast Sun and in 2007 joined the Gold Coast Bulletin, mainly as a crime and court reporter.
“I loved it. I loved the people, I loved the daily work of journalism, but during my second maternity leave I began to wonder whether I was making a difference, and whether it was time to try something new.”
Always community-minded — Leah has been a Red Frog volunteer at Schoolies, worked at Radio Lollipop at the Gold Coast University Hospital and is a mentor with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience — the more she thought about it, the more teaching seemed the perfect choice.
“In the classroom you are passing on knowledge and that’s wonderful. You immediately see the results of your work and the difference you are making,” says Leah.
“I was a little daunted about being an adult returning to study, but I soon realised the benefits of having workplace experience, maturity and a greater understanding of the importance of time management.
“Also, Griffith gave me terrific support. I had two wonderful pracs at Helensvale State High and Trinity Lutheran College and, with such great technology and learning spaces on campus, the student experience is enhanced.”
Now it’s just a matter of waiting until Wednesday, January 27, when Leah steps into the classroom for the first time as a professional teacher.
“I’m sure I’ll be nervous, but I’m looking forward to putting my knowledge and real world experience to work in the class,” she says.