What Works - The Work Program

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Dave Fitzpatrick

I did BA, Dip Ed at the University of WA and then went out as an English teacher with a minor in Social Studies. After a couple of years, I thought it wasn't for me so I went travelling overseas and did so much informal education along the way that I thought 'well, teaching might be for me'.

So I studied TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in London and came back to Australia to work in Arnhem Land on the basis of that qualification. I spent a year out there in Kunbalanya [Oenpelli] in a community of about 600, including about 40 Balandas [non-Aboriginal people]. But my wife is a trained midwife and she couldn't get work in her field there, so we went into Darwin and I did two more years of ESL teaching. I also taught Science there.

TESL continued when I moved to Albany, working here in primary and secondary, until I moved into mainstream English teaching at North Albany Senior High School (but still doing Science as well). That helped me get into cross-curriculum projects and setting things up for Aboriginal kids. Then a part-time position became available in AIEO [Aboriginal and Island Education Officer] support and I took that on willingly. I also acted as Student Services coordinator.

Then I did a couple of years in the private system in a new school that was setting up in Albany. I was a foundation member with responsibility for English, a bit of Art and a bit of Technology and Enterprise. That's where they needed me at the time.

But after that I went back to North Albany Senior High School teaching English and becoming Acting Head of Department. I was teaching TEE [Tertiary Entrance Examination] Literature, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

More recently, I did a six months stint as the district PEAC [Primary Education and Academic Challenge] teacher, which is a program for gifted and talented kids in the primary sector. Within that, we ran an Aboriginal students' camp, and identified gifted and talented Aboriginal students. I was studying at the time, and I did a Masters in Educational Management focusing on Gifted and Talented Education. Then the Follow the Dream job came up and I thought it was the perfect fit. This is my third year in the position.

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