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Discovering Tasmanian communities through teaching

Laura Stewart has experienced the value of community in the remote North West town of Strahan.

Education student Laura Stewart is enjoying her teaching experience in the town of Strahan so much she may never head back to her hometown of Hobart.

Laura is completing her Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree, and is hopeful of securing a role at Strahan Primary School, where she has completed her final placement.

Leaving my home and family and friends in Hobart was a bit of a change but the community has been so welcoming; not just the school community, but the whole community.

“Most places I go to in town, people say ‘oh you’re the prac. student’, so I guess I am a bit of a local celebrity,” she said.

Strahan is a small village on Tasmania’s remote west coast with a primary school population of a mere 65 or so students, but Laura is feeling right at home.

Laura is part of the Professional Experience in Isolated and Rural Schools (PEIRS) program which provides her with financial support while she’s in Strahan.

Remote schools are different. Here, all the kids know each other and all the teachers know the kids, which is good. There are only five teachers here so they’re all close.

The Hobart student studied her Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree online and said it worked perfectly for her personal situation.

The course is in Launceston but I’m from Hobart and I didn’t want to move away to study. I’ve studied online for the past four years, which has been fantastic and I’ve been able to fit study around my work too.

“You do have to be very self-disciplined to study online but it helps that you can connect with other students through social media. I don’t think I would have done any better on campus and online allows people from all over the world to study.”

With the locals keen to welcome Laura, it seems she has left the big city behind. And she has no doubts that studying in her home state has been a great experience.

“Tassie is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. It’s a great place to learn and teach. I’d love to stay here and teach in Tasmania – in fact, I’d be thrilled to stay in Strahan,” she said.

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