Naomi’s special field of knowledge

In testing times, Careers Adviser Naomi Toogood has gone to great lengths to practise what she teaches.

With internet connectivity at a premium in her household, the Billabong High School teacher took remote teaching to another level to connect with her students, a demonstration of the skills she seeks to nurture in them.

“Initiative, resilience, selfmanagement, problem solving and determination to get the job done well,” she said, “key employability skills I teach my year 9 and 10 Careers Education classes and encourage them to develop.”

With necessity the mother of invention, Naomi had to come up with a way to share the bandwidth with her three teenage daughters, who are also students at Billabong High.

“When regional NSW was sent into lockdown, the jostling for access to the internet for teaching and learning to occur was frustrating for all,” she said from the family property in Culcairn, midway between Wagga Wagga and Albury.

A family decision was made that the year 12 and year 11 daughters had priority to use the satellite, which barely copes with multiple devices and especially when streaming Zoom or Teams sessions.

The year 8 daughter was to use a dongle, which was good for browsing, but couldn’t cope with any streaming or major downloads, while I was left to wander around and find a location to ‘hot spot’ my phone to my computer.

On the day the photo was taken, I had to wander around that morning with the phone in the air to find a good spot for reception, which put me in a paddock. So, there I worked.

It was her year 8 daughter who took the picture, seeking her out to ask a study question. She took the photo “to show me how silly I looked, according to her”.

“I thought I would send it to my principal – a picture is worth a thousand words – to let her know that we are all trying our best, but online teaching and learning for rural residents/communities is not easy,” Naomi said.

“My principal Julie Bowen then shared it in her network – and it went from there.”

From Facebook and Twitter, the picture found its way into The Border Mail with the story also picked by the local ABC. It’s a snapshot of resilience in the face of uncertainty.

I would like to acknowledge that our school has been very supportive for both students and staff – loaning laptops and dongles – as we are all in this together!