Adventurers ready to embark on experience of a lifetime

I’m going with an open mind and no expectations. I’m prepared to give anything a go.

The world awaits 16 teachers from NSW and the ACT and two from WA bound for Canada, the UK and Germany in the New Year on exchange.

The joint IEU/Department of Education (DET) exchange conference was held on 18 September, giving exchangees a final chance to understand issues around tax, health, visas and expectations when they reach their destinations.

Emma and Martin Smith are unique in that they are the first IEU/DET joint exchange.

Martin is a PE teacher at Southern Cross High School in Ballina and Emma teaches Business and English at Xavier College, Skennars Head.

They are both going to teach at schools in Collingwood, Ontario. Emma will be teaching a primary gifted and talented class at Mountainview Elementary School.

Emma said once they found a couple in Canada who wanted to do an exchange the process was not onerous.

Emma is primary trained but has not taught a gifted and talented class before and is looking forward to the new challenge.

“I’m interested in the systems and the administrative side of teaching and looking for ways to improve what we do,” Emma said.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to do something like gifted and talented and it should give me some ideas on how to extend any student, regardless of ability.”

Martin is looking forward to seeing how competitions and school sports are organised in Canadian schools.

Debbie Robinson is no stranger to exchange as she accompanied her husband Graeme Atkins on his exchange in 2005.

This time it’s Debbie who’s doing the exchange, but Graeme, who works at McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains, has taken a year’s leave and is planning to do volunteer work in Canada.

Debbie is a counsellor at Parramatta CEO working at various schools, but she thinks her exchange partner will have a secondary school posting.

At Johnston Heights Secondary School she will provide a traditional counselling service for students and families, but also function in a wider pastoral role, helping students with subject selection, careers advice and assisting with graduation ceremonies.

“We can’t wait to get back to Canada as we felt so welcome and made so many friends when we went before,” Debbie said.

Carlo Trimboli of St Joseph’s College, Banora Point is used to teaching PE but he will also have to take on Maths at Fletcher’s Meadow Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario.

“I’m not Maths trained but they’ve guaranteed me it won’t be anything too advanced, more like skills for living such as financial literacy.

“My exchange partner is into wrestling and that’s not something I’m familiar with either. I’m having dreams about turning up in class with roller skates trying to teach something that everyone else knows more about than me, but that’s all part of the experience.”

Lisa Murphy is swapping a sleepy beachside village near Nowra for the culturally thriving city of Edinburgh.

Lisa teaches Maths at St John the Evangelist High School, Nowra and is going to Queensferry Community High School.

She went on exchange to British Columbia in 2010 and applied again as soon as she was able (exchanges are possible after five years of teaching).

In Canada she gained amazing friendships and more insight into using tablets in the classroom. She hopes to gather similar new insights in Scotland.

Michelle Crescini is new to teaching, having just completed her first five years in the profession at St Therese Primary School, Dapto. She’s off to St Monica’s School, Barrie, Ontario to teach a Year 2 class.

“I’m glad I’ll be teaching Year 2 because at least that’s something I’m familiar with. I’m going with an open mind and no expectations. I’m prepared to give anything a go.

“I’ve heard pedagogy is good in Canada so I’m looking forward to seeing how they do things.

“I’m a traveller so I can’t wait to get off and start exploring.”

To find out more about teacher exchange see or contact Exchange Coordinator Helen Gregory: email or phone 1800 467 943.

Sue Osborne