Terry Kennedy of Kildaire Catholic College in Wagga Wagga exchanged with Andrew Conroy, St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario. Andrew Conroy is originially from Australia and emigrated to Canada in the 90s.
I’m working at Kildare Catholic College in Wagga Wagga, NSW and we are living in the small town of Junee about 25 minutes drive from school. Kildare has been welcoming to me and my family. I have found the teaching position challenging, especially in the first term as I learned the technology used in the classroom and by students, the curriculum, and the additional work needed as the school goes through an accreditation process. When it was stated at our exchange information session back in Canada that ‘the exchange year is often compared to your first year of teaching’, they weren’t wrong. It has been difficult to be an experienced teacher and feeling like a novice but I have enjoyed the challenge.
My family (wife and three children aged 6, 8, and 10) transitioned easily to small town life in Junee. I would definitely recommend that the spouse not work during the exchange if you have children – that way they can manage the settling in, home, kids, and travel plans. Junee and the school the kids are at have been amazingly welcoming and the kids settled in quickly, making new friends.
They enjoyed the differences Australian schools have to offer (uniforms, sports carnivals, regular assemblies, school canteen, and a small school of 130 where all students know each other), and the activities (footy, cubs, swimming, dance) the town has to offer. My wife was able to quickly get involved and volunteer at the school with the P&C (school council) and canteen and in the community with cubs and Junee’s annual festival.
I’m in a fairly unique position because I’m actually Australian but we have been living in Canada for the past 15 years. It has been great to be able to spend time with my parents and siblings and their families. My children have very much enjoyed time with their cousins – whether for the weekend or a family holiday. We just returned from two weeks in Western Australia where we enjoyed the coral reefs, real outback and hiking in national park gorges.