A message from the Director General for World Teachers' Day

A message from the Director General for World Teachers' Day

28 October 2021

Public school life In the news

When we think back to our school days – no matter which part of the world we grew up in, or in which era – most of us had at least one teacher who inspired us.

Whether it’s a talented art or music teacher, a bright young educator who helped us understand algebra or chemistry, or a sports teacher who helped us perform better, the lessons they imparted can stick for a lifetime.

A good teacher can deliver hope, spark the imagination and instil a love of learning.

For me it was Mr White. He taught me Biology. Like many of his colleagues, he loved his subject with a passion. When I think about the teachers who made the biggest impression on me, they were all devoted to teaching, and they were all firm but fair.

They cared deeply, but most importantly, they saw the potential in us that we didn’t see in ourselves. They believed in us, and, because of this, they invested in us.

Teachers do an incredibly important job. They wear a number of hats and are expert multi-taskers who juggle constantly to make sure schools run as smoothly as possible.

Parents and carers trust them to not only teach their children reading, writing and arithmetic – from early childhood right into young adulthood – but to share life’s broader lessons.

They teach kids how to think strategically, how to manage relationships in the playground and can even be a welcome life mentor for some students.

Not everything can be taught from a textbook, and we are fortunate in WA to have so many teachers who go the extra mile to ensure that our students receive the best and most rounded education possible.

Tomorrow is World Teachers’ Day and I would like to invite everyone to say a kind word or pen a note to a teacher who is making a difference out there in their community.

There are around 25,000 public school teachers in more than 800 schools, and over the past three years I have met some of our best professionals in the field.

In the lead-up to World Teachers’ Day, we have unearthed some incredible tales among our most dedicated ‘chalkies’.

Take for instance teacher Ali Zafar Mohammadi, who was born in Afghanistan during the war and contracted polio when he was young.

Ali came to Australia by boat and became an engineer before realising education was his passion during a university STEM trip to Broome.  Now based at Byford Secondary College, Ali is using his knowledge to teach his young charges about robotics.

We’ve also learned that teaching runs in families. We have so many examples of parents and siblings who spur and challenge each other in their shared profession.

At Pinjarra Senior High School, Head of English Ngahuia Hughes has passed on her love of teaching to her twin sons Solomon and Sinclair, who often teach at the same school.

Meanwhile, Darryl Spargo has taught at Pinjarra since 1977. In his 44-year service, he has even taught some of the current teachers at the school and the parents of current students.

In the northern suburbs, 82-year-old Melvina Smith is the State’s oldest public school classroom teacher. The Ocean Reef Senior High School teacher has been a home economics specialist for decades.

If we turn to one of WA’s most impactful teachers, it has to be the late May O’Brien. May was the first female Aboriginal person to complete her teaching qualification and had to challenge the system to participate in the training.

She became a highly respected teacher, an author of children’s books, the first Aboriginal superintendent, a mentor to many who came after and was an activist on behalf of Aboriginal people in her later years.

This year, we have partnered with Edith Cowan University, the Catholic Education Office of WA and the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia to recognise teachers for their commitment to the children and young people of WA. 

On Friday 29 October landmarks across Perth, including Optus Stadium, Matagarup Bridge and Yagan Square, will be lit yellow and red in recognition of teachers.

Please join me tomorrow in thanking teachers for the amazing work they do in shaping the lives of kids across the State.

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated in Western Australia on Friday 29 October.

Lisa Rodgers, Director General of the WA Department of Education.