Just say yes to everything

Overseas teachers new to Australia enjoyed a warm down under welcome at the IEU/Department Education Exchange Conference in February. This year the IEU helped nine exchange teachers come to Australian non government schools – eight from Canada and one from the US.

Fran Sparkes

Canadian exchange veteran Fran Sparkes is on her third exchange in four years.

“Say yes to everything” was her tip for any teacher looking to maximise their exchange experience.

Since 2013 she has been on two exchanges to WA, and now she’s exchanged with Nicole Ptycia of St Anthony Parish Primary School, Wanniassa, ACT.

Fran, of St Patrick’s Elementary School, Markham, Ontario, said exchange is always a “fabulous experience” and any teacher on exchange should “do it all’ to make the most their time.

While teaching in Canada and Australia is similar, Fran finds the culture more laid back in Australia, and she puts that down to the beaches and climate.

“The job’s just as demanding, but you can spend all year round outside,” she said.

Fran said there is more freedom in Canada to teach curriculum when and how you wish, but she enjoys the collaboration required in the Australian system.

“I’ve learnt a lot about teaching literacy to those middle years, something we don’t have a lot of in Canada, and I will take that home with me,” she said.

Kristin Perry

Kristin Perry, who is on a mid year exchange and arrived in July, is no stranger to overseas living. The St Louis, Missouri native has been teaching at the Berlin Brandenburg International School since 2001 and has exchanged with Frederick Zalloua of St Charbel’s College, Punchbowl.

She’s also married to a Scot, so her children are citizens of the US, UK and Germany.

The physical education program in Berlin is very different to that found in Sydney, Kristin said.

Her young daughters have embraced international living, and the five year old now sings Advance Australia Fair and refers to her ‘cosies’.

“It’s been a bit of a baptism by fire as the PE program is so different to the program in Germany, with the course work and theory as opposed to the prac, but my colleagues have been amazingly supportive.

“The point of being on exchange is to be open to everything and take it all in.

“I get help without even asking for it so I’m slowly getting into the groove.”

Rosalie Hnatick

Rosalie Hnatick first discovered Australia backpacking 22 years ago and vowed she would return.

Now the St Stephen School, Calgary primary teacher has exchanged with Greg Hayes of St John’s Primary School, Mullumbimby.

“The curriculum and outcomes required here are spelt out very explicitly. I know my exchange partner is enjoying the freedom he is getting with his class,” Rosalie said.

“I like the way the four terms break up the year and allow you to organise your teaching. I like the way you get together with other teachers in a team to teach, which is more collaborative.”

Rosalie hopes her daughters, who are on exchange with her, will inherit a love of travel from the experience.

Aleisha Howlett

Aleisha Howlett, history teacher from Huron Park Secondary School, Woodstock, Ontario, had swapped with John McKelleher of St Charbel’s College, Punchbowl.

Learning about Australian history hasn’t been a challenge so far as she’s teaching mostly Ancient History, but learning how the new system works has been interesting.

Aleisha’s no stranger to overseas experience, having preciously taught in Siberia, France and India.

Aleisha has brought her two children to Sydney.

“As soon as they heard we would have a pool, they were sold,” she said.

The point of being on exchange is to be open and take it all in.

Carla Taylor

Carla Taylor’s daughter spent a year teaching in Melbourne and had a great time, and then her grade partner came on exchange and raved about it, so Carla decided it was her turn.

She’s left behind St Edmund Catholic Elementary School in Edmonton to take Lisa Matzanke’s role at St Columba’s Primary School, Adamstown, for a year.

“I’m hoping to make new friendships that last a lifetime, and have people come and visit me in Canada,” Carla said.

Heather Bergland

Heather Bergland is keen to learn more about rugby coaching in Australia, although she’s not yet clear on whether it’s league or union that’s she’s involved with.

The phys ed teacher from Ross Sheppard High School, Edmonton, said there’s a lot more paperwork involved in her role covering for Alison Montgomery at Chevalier College, Bowral.

“It’s a bit different, more theory based than practical as in Canada, but we’re here to experience something different,” Heather said.

Sylvia Vanaselja

Sylvia’s exchange partner at St Anthony’s of Padua, Picton is teaching her daughter, and she is teaching her son, so the pair have formed a close bond.

“She super supportive. She’s strong on curriculum programing and I’m learning lots. The students are great and ask me and my children lots of questions about Canada.”

Sylvia hopes to attend some conferences of education technology during her exchange and take what she learns back to St Faustina Catholic Elementary School, Mississauga, Ontario. Her exchange partner is Anita Burgess-Gorrie.

Joseph O’Neill

Joseph O’Neill usually teaches seniors at Cardinal Carter Catholic Secondary School, Leamington, Ontario, so the younger age group he’s taking for Maria Oliverio at St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Albion Park, is a bit of a challenge.

“It’s nice to refresh yourself after 20 years in teaching with something different,” Joseph said.

“There’s no final exam like the HSC in Canada, so seeing how curriculum fits in with that is interesting.

“The level of collaboration between teachers here is much higher, as a necessity.”

Nancy McFadden

Nancy McFadden is IT teacher at Ken Caryl Middle School, Littleton, in Colorado.

A US middle school is the equivalent of Years 7-8 only in Australia.

At Xavier Catholic College, Skennars Head, where she is covering for Paul Reidy, she is teaching a much wider age group.

Her twin daughters are relishing the chance to experience life near the beach, and Nancy is looking forward to taking some new technology ideas back to Colorado.

For more information about an Exchange call Helen Gregory Teacher Exchange Coordinator on 8202 8900 or 1800 467 943 or email helen@ieu.asn.au.