Deborah believes in a vibrant education system

Deborah Hodgkin doesn’t measure human bones anymore. The one-time PhD aspirant with a double major in anatomy and archaeology put aside the calcified pointers to human evolution, after realising she loved demonstrating university science and tutoring students.

Deborah decided to become a secondary science and mathematics teacher, a move that would take her from Kimberley schools to Kalkaringi.

“I’ve always wanted to work with Aboriginal kids in remote communities; it’s about social justice; it’s about addressing disadvantage; it’s about working to satisfy their particular needs,” she said.

“I knew I could make changes by working in isolated schools, but I felt that as a corporate officer in the Department of Education I could assist many more kids by helping teachers to develop.

“University doesn’t train graduate teachers to be remote school educators; it’s a unique context. The kids may speak several languages, not necessarily English, may have to travel to school, and there might be a range of ages in classes.

“But there are many ways the department eases the work of these teachers, including professional development and the design of resources tailored to their situations.”

For the past four years, Deborah has worked as the manager of a literacy and numeracy team developing Literacy And Numeracy Essentials (LANE) which includes Read Write Inc. — now in 82 schools — assessment initiatives such as Progressive Achievement Tests (PAT) and Employment Pathways — an alternative curriculum for remote secondary schools.

Deborah believes ensuring collaboration by an assortment of people is a great challenge.

“It’s really easy if you have carriage of a whole project, but you never do,” she said. “Education is a complex system with diverse interest groups, ranging from school to corporate staff. They all need to be convinced of the value of a project, and everyone must be listened to, and their roles must be defined.

“I want the schools my grandchildren attend to be completely different to the ones we have now. I want to build a system that continually changes, always improving schools, their resources and learning cultures.”

The avid knitter, who has aspirations to travel to Europe in summer, admits to looking for Father Christmas at the Arctic Circle.

“We visited Lapland when the kids were young enough to still believe in Santa Claus, but old enough to enjoy a trip to Europe,” she said.

The mother of 13-year-old Molly and 11-year-old Joanna is the holder of a provisional black belt in Tang Soo Do (Karate). She is working to qualify for a black belt.

Deborah believes in a vibrant education system

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