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Avneil Swami

“The professional benefits are fantastic in that there is a high level of support given to beginning teachers and opportunities for development in an accelerated pathway for those seeking leadership opportunities.”

In my current role as Deputy Principal, I am responsible for school operations and curriculum. I oversee the conception and management of the timetable and work with staff and school administrators to ensure school structures support our school vision and philosophy. My daily tasks are centred on creating opportunities for our students to be successful in all aspects of school life and engaging them in a meaningful learning journey which in turn creates future opportunities for students.

I lead, coach and inspire beginning teachers in our school to engage them in a professional development pathway, to assist them to become the best teachers they can be. Through classroom observations and classroom management strategy workshops, the executive team provide support for our staff to manage student’s behaviour in their rooms.

I have recently been involved in the Masters of School Leadership program run in conjunction with the University of Western Australia. This opportunity has allowed me to grow and develop as a school leader and has exposed me to research around school improvement, which will enable me to make impact at a local level.

I was born in the Fiji Islands and moved to Australia with my family in 1987. I went to school at Boyare Primary School and Morley Senior High School.  My time at Morley Senior High School was very successful and the staff encouraged the development of my leadership qualities. I was enrolled in the specialist aeronautics program at the school and flew a plane solo on my 16th birthday. Mr Norman Paini successfully nominated me in the year 2000 to be a Centenary of Federation Youth Envoy for the duration of 2001. My time at Morley Senior High School certainly shaped my future in a positive way.

I remember walking into a tutorial in my final year at university excited about the letter I had just received in the mail. It was an early offer to Hedland Senior High School. I was excited and committed to accepting the offer however many peers and others were questioning my decision. To accept this offer to Hedland Senior High School was the best decision I have made in my entire life. Here in Hedland I have met my wife and we now have two beautiful kids. Hedland Senior High School has presented me with multiple opportunities to grow and develop as a professional but most of all has allowed me to be exposed to leadership roles earlier than usual. I have harnessed every opportunity presented to me and although hard work and persistence has been key, the professional people around me have helped me to get to this point in my career.  

When you are considering moving to a rural or remote location you need to know that you will be supported. Supported by the Department, supported by your school and supported by the community in which you work. Small communities and schools in rural or remote locations recognise the importance of supporting their staff and colleagues always work hard to collaborate and support each other professionally and personally. Working in a rural or remote school demands flexibility and adaptability. Due to many local reasons staff may be required to teach outside their primary learning area/context. In small schools we must be supportive of one another and be willing to change with circumstances.

To work in a rural or remote location you have to be somewhat resilient, in that you need to create your own support networks, manage your wellbeing in what sometimes can be an isolating experience. It is important to get involved in the school and wider community and build positive relationships with students, staff, parents and community.

The benefits of teaching in rural or remote schools are both financial and professional. There are financial incentives which vary from location to location, but are to be seriously considered. Government Regional Officers Housing is available in most locations around WA and this provides heavily subsidised rentals for teachers to stay with their families. The professional benefits are fantastic in that there is a high level of support given to beginning teachers and opportunities for development in an accelerated pathway for those seeking leadership opportunities.  

When I moved from Perth to Port Hedland, I had to contact Housing and Transport within the Department and they were extremely helpful. I love living in Hedland as the people and the town are so inclusive and there is always things to do. There are many sporting and recreational clubs and activities to take part in and the town is very family friendly. I really enjoy my outdoor pursuits such as fishing, camping and hiking.

The coolest thing about my job is that I can help support students in Hedland to achieve success. I love working with staff to create engaging experiential learning experiences to develop outstanding young people who are engaged in the wider community.

When I have a student say to me, I've made a difference or when I get approached by past students who talk to me about what my guidance meant for them… really hits home.  It gives me confidence that our system and school is doing the right thing for our students.

Three bits of advice I offer for anyone studying teaching students are:

  • be kind to yourself
  • value relationships and work hard
  • always maintain a student-centred focus.