The calling to become a teacher came a little later in life for Charles Sturt University graduate Mr Ian Mitchell.
It wasn’t until after he retired from a successful career working for a government organisation that the Bathurst local decided he wanted to go back to university to become a teacher.
He enrolled in Charles Sturt’s Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) in 2018. Fast forward just two years and he is now a Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) teacher at Bathurst High School.
“After retiring I decided I would like to contribute in a meaningful way, and teaching was suggested to me as I was tutoring university students and really enjoying it,” Mr Mitchell said.
“I did teaching as work experience when I was in high school, and have always had educational roles in other professions, so I guess I have always felt educating and training others was in-built.
“I am really enjoying my job at Bathurst High School. I like seeing my students get excited about learning something new, and when they really grasp a concept or skill and can use it across their other subjects.”
After fast-tracking the usually four-year degree into two years by completing additional subjects over the summer break, Mr Mitchell secured his current job at Bathurst High School before he graduated from the course with Distinction.
“I decided to do a mixture of both online and on-campus study so I could graduate from my four-year degree in two, working over semester three in both years,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Before graduating, each school I did placements at offered me work opportunities, and my first employment contract was with Lithgow High School.
“I learned a lot about teaching from the HSIE Head Teacher at Lithgow and from colleagues who remain friends. I approached Bathurst High School and secured an opportunity there, which is my current role.
“This was all before finally graduating in August 2020.”
During his busy time at Charles Sturt, Mr Mitchell also managed to find time to work in the University’s student calling team, tutor for the University’s Indigenous Academic Support Program in Bathurst and take part in the Charles Sturt STRIVE leadership course.
As if the past two years at Charles Sturt and the challenges of being a newly-qualified teacher haven’t made Mr Mitchell busy enough, he has decided to continue to challenge himself by furthering his studies with a Master of Education at Charles Sturt.
“I am currently working as a teacher and working towards attaining my proficiency in teaching and getting my master’s degree finished,” he said.
“A quote which is as true today as when former President Obama said it a few years ago is ‘Reward for Effort’, so I keep doing my best and encouraging students in the same way.
“There is no other university which provides the avenues to succeed like Charles Sturt University.
“Even now at these difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic, Charles Sturt University is all about setting students up for success. The opportunity is there, students just need to grasp it with both hands and run with it.”
Speaking of how COVID-19 has affected him as a teacher, particularly as a first-year teacher, Mr Mitchell shared it has been a challenge but he has received great support from his HSIE colleagues at Bathurst High’s Denison College campus.
“It’s been said this is the toughest time in teaching for decades, and preparing materials for face-to-face, online, and those who didn’t have technology increased the workload exponentially,” Mr Mitchell said.
“As a double-edged sword, I now think more people outside of education have some idea of the intricacies of education, and the professionalism teachers take to work every day.
“It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.”
Charles Sturt is committed to training highly skilled teacher education graduates and earlier this year was ranked 36th in world for quality education by the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.
The rankings assess more than 600 universities across the globe against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and ranks them in 17 categories across three areas – research, outreach and stewardship.