Alexander Papasavvas

Lake Cargelligo CS

I’ve been the Fed Rep at Lake Cargelligo Central School (LCCS) since the start of the year.

I nominated for the position to help spread the load of our Federation roles — small schools are always all-hands-on-deck and we at LCCS really value our ability to work collectively and support one another.

Having been a Fed member since day one of my career (I actually joined as a student) I value the experience of being able to support my colleagues, in particular casual and temporary teachers and those moving into the world of accreditation and standards-based pay.

Teaching in rural and remote schools is incredibly rewarding. Coming from Sydney, I quickly learned that country teachers have to be able to step out of their comfort zone and adapt to change — but we’re always there to support each other.

The Fed does a lot to support teachers through their rural and remote initiatives. The Rural Handbook: A Guide to Teaching in Rural or Remote Locations is a great guide for new teachers in country areas and supports initiatives such as the Beginning Teachers Conferences, which are invaluable for helping new teachers to settle in.

I’ve participated in Association meetings where we “workshop” issues pertinent to the particular challenges of rural and remote education and I’ve seen changes made at a policy level that reflect initiatives that we supported as members thanks to the tireless work of campaigners like our Country Organiser, Brett “Bert” Bertalli, who drives all over Western NSW supporting teachers and advocating on our behalf.

Along with other Fed Reps, principals and school education directors I attended a conference held jointly by our employer, the Department, and the union to receive information relevant to the new staffing agreement.

One of the underlying themes was cooperation between our employer and the union, from the consultation and development process through to the meeting and to our presentation back at school made jointly by myself and the principal.

It is in this spirit of cooperation that I encourage others to participate in Federation as members, committee members and Fed Reps.

Collective, democratic representation and advocacy is a powerful force within education and inspires my membership in other professional organisations like the Visual Arts and Design Educators Association of NSW (VADEA) to participate in the latest syllabus and policy developments within my field.

As a visual arts educator, I’m supremely lucky in that I get to experience my hobbies in the classroom — marking artworks and sharing the uniquely rewarding experience of art-making practice with my students.

In off-duty hours, I sometimes like to entertain my fiancée by getting the guitar out and belting out some country tunes, and when that gets annoying we watch SeaChange.

If I were prime minister for one day I would immediately dissolve parliament and hold new elections on a platform of helping every Australian child get a great education. (That’s not a partisan statement: I just really like House of Cards).