WA Premier's Secondary Teacher of the Year 2019

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Chasing dreams

Tam Sheldon, Baldivis Secondary College
WA Premier’s Secondary Teacher of the Year 2019

Tam Sheldon was not going to let being a single mother with three children stop her from realising her dream career.

From a young age Tam had aspirations of being a teacher.

“I knew that I had to strive for a more prosperous career for the improved direction and success of my boys,” Tam says.

“As a young child, I would line my teddy bears up and hand out my individually designed worksheets and give them intense instructional strategies on my blackboard for them to complete at the highest level.

“Not being the most adherent and on-task teenager, reaching the required leaving score did not enable me to aspire from school graduation immediately to university.”

After finishing school Tam didn’t shy away from working long hours – as she set about filling her day working two jobs.

“During the day I was a receptionist, and from 6pm to 6am I was a bar attendant at the local night club,” she laughs.

“My first real job was working at the first five-star hotel that I had walked into – the Hyatt Regency Perth.”

Tam went on to climb the hospitality ladder going from waiter to assistant manager of banquets.

It was during her time working full time in the hospitality industry, and juggling a family, that she took herself off to university and made her dream of becoming a teacher a reality.

Tam brought her extensive hospitality experience and passion into the classroom. This was matched by her desire to provide innovative and engaging educational experiences that would inspire future generations within the hospitality industry.

Principal Keith Svendsen says Tam led the development and implementation of the College’s popular and highly successful Hospitality Program.

“As the teacher in charge of the Home Economics area, Tam is a knowledgeable and supportive instructional leader who leads by example and motivates colleagues to aspire to be their best in providing high quality, meaningful learning experiences for students,” Keith says.

“Tam has had a powerful influence on student outcomes resulting in outstanding achievement levels for her students.”

Tam radiates a passion for her students and does everything in her power to ensure they leave the classroom feeling empowered to achieve anything they put their minds to.

“I want them to walk away confident in knowing that persistence and rigour will always assist in achieving success and that they should never be too shy to ask for help along the way,” Tam says.

“They should be accountable for their actions but feel safe to risk failure and strive to succeed from it.”

Tam reflects on her childhood, growing up in the country, where she was surrounded with love, safety, happiness and non-materialism.

“I love to enable young adults to realise that their most affluent assets are in their inner self and their individual aspiration to succeed,” Tam says.

“No purchased item will ever fulfil them as the sense of personal achievement ever could.”

It is clear that students love being in Tam Sheldon’s class. She has built their trust and they are well aware that she will always put them first, within a firm context of a safe, respectful and equitable environment.

“Teaching has been my dream career as long as I can possibly remember and now each and every day I actually get to live it,” Tam says.

WA Premier’s Secondary Teacher of the Year 2019

This award recognises secondary school teachers who are a source of inspiration to their students. They know their content and how to teach it, and provide a dependable and consistent influence as their students make choices about further education, work and life.

Proudly sponsored by BHP.

  • Tam Sheldon, Baldivis Secondary College
  • Jeremy Caspersz, Warwick Senior High School
  • Jane Ganfield, Dongara District High School
  • Mike Gowland, Fremantle College