Queensland teacher Caitlyn Smith on making moments matter - Education Matters Magazine
Department of Education, Teacher's Voice

Queensland teacher Caitlyn Smith on making moments matter

If you had asked Caitlyn Smith in 2014 where she would be in 10 years, she probably would have said she would be working as a Marine Biologist on the coast of New South Wales. 

It may come as a surprise then to hear that in 2024 Caitlyn is teaching at a rural school in Queensland as well as promoting the profession as a Teach Queensland Ambassador.

After high school, Caitlyn moved from Canberra to Lismore to start her Marine Biology studies but soon realised teaching was her true calling. Caitlyn changed degrees in her second year of study but said the course of her career—and life—was ultimately changed in 2019 when the Teach Queensland Ambassadors visited her university.

“I was in my final year of studying teaching when the Teach Queensland Ambassadors came to my university in Lismore to talk about the opportunities available in Queensland,” Caitlyn recalled.

“The Ambassadors’ stories of working in rural and remote schools piqued an interest in Queensland for me.

“Each Ambassador spoke about the support they received and the different locations in Queensland, which was very appealing.

“I had already started the process of registering to teach in New South Wales but I wanted more autonomy around my initial teaching location.

“Queensland was offering a variety of choices depending on my position and locations of interest.”

After speaking with her partner Aaron about Queensland, they both decided to attend the Teach Rural Career Fair in Brisbane to learn more and to see what opportunities were available to them.

“I had already moved interstate for university, and my partner Aaron was open to a change,” Caitlyn said.

Many destinations to choose in Queensland — Caitlyn at the directional sign in Mt Isa. Image: Queensland Department of Education

“We were looking for a school location that had housing and job prospects in mining for him. We had discussed possible regions and decided to go rural.

“I found the Teach Rural Career Fair easy to walk around and get the information we needed. I was able to speak face-to-face with people from the Department of Education and ask questions about the regions and positions that were available.

“There were also people there to explain how the department assists people with moving, housing and other relocation related expenses.”

Caitlyn said attending the Teach Rural Career Fair made the process of getting a job in Queensland seamless.

“I found it more achievable to get a job in Queensland,” she said.

“I was really excited with how many offers I received at the Career Fair. I discussed all my options with my partner Aaron before accepting a position at Moranbah State High School.”

“The department helped us move with our two dogs. The added benefit of subsidised housing, locality allowances and other financial and non-financial incentives made the move and stay easy.

“In Moranbah, I was able to build lifelong friendships with other new graduates as well as gain an understanding of the teacher I wanted to be. Since then, I’ve also taught and lived in Mornington and Innisfail. I have found a place to grow my family and teach students with diverse backgrounds.”

Caitlyn said she experienced a full-circle moment when she became a Teach Queensland Ambassador in 2023.

“I volunteered because I wanted to share my passion for teaching in Queensland’s rural, remote and regional schools,” she said.

“It has been great being able to meet the Ambassadors who spoke to me in university and now are my peers.

“I also found it serendipitous that I ended up teaching science at the same school as one of my Ambassadors.

“When I had originally spoken to her, I was not ready to teach in a remote setting but over time it became something I was interested in.”

Caitlyn (right) with fellow Teach Queensland Ambassador Mel (left) attending a Department of Education awards night. Image: Queensland Department of Education

This year, Caitlyn is attending the 2024 Teach Rural Career Fair as an Ambassador and will speak with pre-service, beginning and experienced teachers about the benefits of teaching and living in Queensland.

“I hope to talk about my experiences teaching in rural and remote settings. My main goal is to show others that teaching in these settings is not scary and can provide different stepping stones.

“I also feel my experience moving from interstate can help others considering doing the same.”

Caitlyn said she has a few recommendations for anyone considering relocating to Queensland or considering teaching rural or remote.

“I would highly recommend attending the Teach Rural Career Fair because it allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of teaching in rural Queensland,” she said.

“Teaching in rural and remote communities is very rewarding and challenging. I would recommend the experience to anyone who is looking to expand their teaching skills as well as their knowledge of Australia.

“I have been in Queensland for five years now and I’ve had so many diverse experiences that have shaped me as a person. I’ve grown personally and professionally.

“All of my experiences have helped me grow into a better teacher and person, and I look forward to continuing to grow across the rest of my career and life.”

Teach Queensland have a range of online and in-person events during the year for preservice, beginning and experienced teachers to connect with recruiters, school leaders and Ambassadors.

The events are a great way to find out more about Queensland’s diverse locations, schools and employment opportunities.

Teach Queensland’s next major event is the Teach Rural Career Fair in Brisbane on Saturday 18 May 2024. Registration is free.

For more information about relocating to Queensland to teach, visit the Love to Teach Queensland website.

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