A Rural Graduate’s Passion

Undertaking her first term at Werrimull P-12, in the Mallee, graduate teacher Jordon McPhee says she is “the lucky one”.

Lucky to be in a rural school where there is a genuine sense of community and where she believes her presence is sincerely valued.

“I can not imagine being this comfortable in my role, and within my ability, so soon at a big school,” she says.

“I actually find it hard to put into words just how supported I have felt in this role already, by the staff, the students, everyone; it has been truly amazing.”

Raised and educated in Mildura — about 80 kilometres from Werrimull — Ms McPhee says her decision to look beyond the regional city for employment was multi-faceted.

And that, having now taken the leap into her rural setting, she feels a sense of conviction.

“I came to Werrimull because I really wanted to be a part of the community — the whole community — and, at the same time, I wanted the professional freedom, or professional challenge, where I knew I’d be able to teach across a wide range of subjects, and I probably wouldn’t get that in a larger school,” she says.

“I wanted to make a difference and being here I think I am, or I can.

“(The students here) are engaged, they are motivated and I think they genuinely care about what we (teachers) say — at least most of the time — because we are so intimately involved in their lives by virtue of the school’s small size.”

But the school’s small size presents challenges of its own.

And life for a rural teacher is far from dreamy, even if Ms McPhee describes her new job as “a bit of a dream”.

“It’s also extremely consuming work — it’s incredibly demanding and involves so much more than your ‘A,B,C’ and ‘1,2,3’ of education,” she says.

“Being a teacher in a small rural school, there is no downtime, there is no ‘someone else’ who can pick up the slack; you’re it.

“I mean, I’m sure all teachers in all schools would say the same — teaching is so much more than just teaching — but out here I think it’s definitely heightened.”