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Bright minds turning to the classroom

Woman standing.
Inaugural class of innovative Turn to Teaching program nears graduation

Cara McKelvie’s love of learning fuelled a career across the science spectrum, from mineral chemistry to carbon capture research.

But throughout her time in laboratories, she knew it didn’t quite fulfil her twin passion of guiding young minds.

This is what led her to become one of University of Southern Queensland’s (UniSQ) inaugural students in the ground-breaking Turn to Teaching Internship Program, conducted in partnership with the Department of Education Queensland.

Cara will graduate at the end of 2023 with a guaranteed position in Queensland’s education workforce as a result of the two-year postgraduate program.

She is already gaining experience through leading her own science classes at a local high school and said the support from university staff and her fellow teachers had been invaluable for her future career.

“I honestly couldn't imagine a more supportive environment for a transition into teaching,” she said.

“This pathway has been a unique opportunity to put the theory into practice and get feedback, advice, and suggestions from current teachers at my school, researchers in my courses, and my UniSQ liaison.”

Fellow student Kirri Hammett said she turned to teaching after recognising the power of early intervention.

She initially dropped out of high school before entering the navy, then pursuing a business degree and becoming a fitness entrepreneur.

“I opened my own gym, which I owned for 9 years before selling it,” she said.

“I decided to pursue my Masters and become a high school teacher after realising that many of the issues my clients were facing started in high school.”

“As a future PE teacher, I believe I can educate our future adults on how to live healthy and happy lives.”

Kirri said the Turn to Teaching scholarship and the support structure at the university was a key factor in allowing her to pursue further study.

“I am so glad I did it,” she said.

“It’s been 10 years since I did my first degree, so I was really nervous, but everyone has helped so much

“The co-ordinator at UniSQ has been outstanding, and supportive, and the lecturers have been too.

University of Southern Queensland Turn to Teaching co-ordinator Lisa Ryan said the unique model of the Turn to Teaching program attracted professionals from a broad range of other careers.

She said the internship model provided a more work-integrated focus, with close to an additional 100 days of classroom time compared to a traditional pathway.

“This means students are still receiving the benefit of a quality university education where they are exposed to cutting-edge research-informed pedagogies and practices, but are getting the chance to hone their skills in practical ways so by the end of their internship, they are genuinely ‘classroom ready’,” she said.

Associate Head of Academic Transformation Mia O’Brien said the program showed University of Southern Queensland’s role at the forefront of a transformation in the delivery of Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

Applications for the 2024 intake of Turn to Teaching will open in August, however, interested candidates can register their interest early on the Turn to Teaching website.