Scholarship program shows $60,000 commitment to building the profession

A group of Federation student members have been presented with $4000 Future Teacher Scholarships, in a ceremony held at Annual Conference.

The scholarships demonstrate the union’s commitment to building and supporting the teaching profession in public schools.

Membership and Training Officer Guy McDermott said applications for the 15 scholarships on offer were received from students at 11 different universities.

Applicants were asked to address the value of public education and the value of unions in their submissions.

Recipient in the Future teachers who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander category, Tyla Herbert, wrote: “My experience in public education made me recognised that no matter how economically disadvantaged my family was, or regardless of a student’s social background, all students are provided with an equal opportunity to learn. My experiences at my school, significantly impacted on my desire to become a teacher and return to public education.”

Ornina Odisho, who grew up in Syria and attended Liverpool TAFE before enrolling at Macquarie University, received a scholarship in the Language background other than English category. “I am committed to being a member of the NSW Teachers Federation union, as I understand the importance of teacher unity, support and development. Moreover, by committing to this union, I can attain a sense of security that my voice is heard, my work conditions are protected and that I am valued as a professional,” she wrote. Next year this category will be renamed, to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse.

Several scholarships were awarded in the First Year Teacher category.

Peta Halliburton’s submission stated: “As a proud graduate of public education my goal now is to educate, engage and encourage as many Aboriginal women as possible to become teachers in the public education system. I wish to use the Future Teachers Scholarship to complete further studies in a master’s degree in Indigenous education, so I can teach primary school students about mine and my family’s culture.”

Amber Jarvis-Thirlaway wrote: “Throughout my experience at public schools I know that Teachers make a difference, a passionate teacher can make school the best place for any student; I aspire to be that teacher. When I graduate I am committed to working in rural and remote NSW. I want to contribute to these communities and learn from the passionate teachers already established in the schools. Every child has the right to a high quality education and it is public schools that do the heavy lifting in remote NSW to ensure these students have the opportunity to become the best versions of themselves.”

Declan O’Byrne’s application states: “Just as my commitment to public education is unwavering, so too is my commitment to social justice and the union movement. My parents have always had a strong sense of social justice and staunch belief, which I share, in the importance of unions in giving a voice and representation for workers.”

Lauren Smith wrote: “Public education holds incredible worth to its community, beyond the realm of economics. When we value public education, we are making a commitment to the future of our nation. It is an investment in the society that will one day be responsible for leading our country and making decisions on our behalf.”

Hamish Sutton praised the value of unions in his submission: “Unions are the collective voices of employees across Australia, advocating for workers’ rights in the face of a range of different global and domestic challenges to the workforce. Labour unions are crucial in ensuring that the economic system does not only favour those at the top, but instead flows right through to all members of society. In order to maintain the strength of Australia’s public-school education system, it is imperative that the labour unions continue to play a key role in affording everyday people access to institutional educational equality.”

Zac Arkley-Smith was awarded a scholarship in the Rural or Remote category. He wrote public education “allows children from all geographic locations and backgrounds to discover and chase their dreams, despite the immense hurdles that they may face”. “Without public education, this would simply not be possible, restricting students of the education they unreservedly deserve, and robbing our society from the uncountable contributions that publicly educated workers have given, and will continue to give to society.”

Two scholarships were awarded in the Open category.

Katelyn Jones wrote: “My past experience in a variety of public schools and my continued work in Learning Support roles in three different public schools is emblematic of my lifelong commitment to the public education system of NSW.”

Janani Kularajah was born during the civil war period in Sri Lanka. “In an effort to hinder one’s ability to seek access to education, political powers at the time placed bans and severe restrictions on the ability for certain ethnic groups within the country to go to school and enter university,” she wrote in her application. “My parents, knowing the negative repercussions that such policies would have for their children, fled to Australia … where education was not determined upon the language you spoke or the colour of your skin. Education was free, and it was non-discriminatory.”

The John Kaye Memorial Scholarship was presented to Savanna Peake. “My commitment to public education and unionism is clearly manifested in my heavy involvement with my activism particularly since being actively involved at university. Ranging from MUA picket lines, May Day rallies, and fair funding marches I have grown more and more with time and involvement to authentically and deeply understand the power of collectivism, and its mutually exclusive links to the protection of individual rights and freedoms in the process,” she wrote.

— Kerri Carr