University partnership brings real-world STEM experience to classroom University partnership brings real-world STEM experience to classroom

A Teacher Pathway Program devised by St Rita’s College in partnership with the Australian Catholic University (ACU) has proven mutually valuable for both parties and is opening new doors in education.

The joint venture stemmed from a disconnect between the reality of a modern classroom and the preparedness of graduate teachers to navigate the complex work of teaching and meet quality checks expected in high achieving schools such as St Rita’s.

The Program’s two successful applicants, ACU Master of Teaching students Dr Jason Stone and Ms Rachel Schafferius, both come from a STEM background and are now sharing their invaluable professional experience within St Rita’s classrooms.

After 22 years in medicine, specialising in anatomical pathology and cancer diagnosis, Dr Jason Stone decided to fulfil another life-long ambition to become a secondary STEM teacher.

“I have no regrets about the career change, and this program has provided me with valuable teaching experiences and exposure to the education system,” Dr Stone said.

“In addition, the program is structured to provide ongoing mentorship, guidance and targeted assistance to meet AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) standard teacher registration requirements. 

“The experience and support I am gaining through the program will definitely stand me in good stead for my future teaching career.”

Dr Jason Stone works at St Rita's College as part of the Teacher Pathway Program.

Fellow program participant, Biochemistry graduate Rachel Schafferius, decided to change pace in 2020 and begin a Master of Teaching after eight years working in medical research.

“I worked specifically in Clinical Trials which was an exciting area; I had the opportunity to collaborate with amazing people in the forefront of new research,” Ms Schafferius said.

“Although I had worked in the field of Science for a long time, I had very limited knowledge of how it applies in the classroom and applied for the Partnership to tap into the amazing opportunity would provide.

“After being part of the program for the past three months, I have grown in my confidence and have been able to provide effective support to many students in their learning.”

Dr Jason Stone and Mr Joel Negline with St Rita's College students.

St Rita’s College Teacher and Program Mentor, Mr Joel Negline, said the pair worked with assigned supervising teachers one day per week with the ultimate goal of being job-ready after graduation. He said the program gave hands-on experience and provided resources to equip them with the skills needed to support students to excel in every aspect of their capabilities.

“Jason and Rachel will also be involved in targeted remediation and extension activities, parent teacher interviews and student pastoral support,” Mr Negline said.

“Their maturity, dedication and professional knowledge has already been a welcome addition to the classroom, and their confidence and skills have developed significantly after just one Term.

“Their significant professional experience prior to entering the teaching profession gives them a breadth of knowledge and real-world examples which engage, interest and add clarity to the content being covered; Jason’s experience as a doctor typifies this.”