Cameron Reynolds, Fiona Smee, Leanne Humes and Margaret Gordon

A project of true passion

Federation recruitment relies on its Project Officers. Here, we ask three of them why they are so committed to their role and what they have been doing so far

Margaret Gordon, Old Bar Public School

Profile:

I’ve been Fed Rep at my school since day one and Councillor for the Manning River Association for about 12 months now.

Motivation:

Federation has been a wonderful support as I’ve had to establish new networks and friends since leaving Sydney to teach. I’ve also been impressed by the support and professional learning opportunities made available to me as an early career teacher. I grabbed the opportunity to become a Project Officer in order to do my bit and give back a little to the union. I also saw the role as a way to work a bit towards the “bigger picture” in public education as I am passionate about ensuring access to quality education for all students.

Lastly, having left Sydney behind to accept a job in a beautiful school on the mid-north coast, I was excited by the prospect of a short stint back in the big smoke!

Life as a Project Officer:

In Term 1, the four Project Officers visited 109 schools, mainly Sydney-based, to recruit members and update current member details and we’re looking forward to visiting more in Term 2. We spend a lot of time doing admin work behind the scenes to ensure our school visits run smoothly and are as productive as possible. We contact student members who have indicated recent graduations to ensure they are in the correct membership category and also contact new permanent appointments shown in the Department’s Gazette to congratulate them and update their membership.

We’ve also attended Federation’s Council meetings, a Beginning Teacher Conference in Bundanoon, university and Department Expo Days for pre-service teachers, Mardi Gras and various other weekend events. Looking ahead, we have more Beginning Teacher Conferences coming up in Coonabarabran and Newcastle.

Best bits:

The opportunity to meet and connect with so many of our members. It is such a privilege to visit schools and be welcomed into staffrooms as a representative of the NSWTF.

Memorable moment:

Definitely the Beginning Teachers Conference in Bundanoon – it was a weekend event but we had 110 eager, enthusiastic early career teachers attend. Being only two years into teaching myself I gained a lot from the workshops over the weekend.

Key learning:

I’ve learned so much about the inner workings and structure of Federation and about all the incredible ways our union supports members at all stages of their careers. I’ve learned a lot from the teachers we meet each day about planning, programming and organisational structures in the various workplaces.

Personal growth:

Anyone who asks me knows how much I’ve loved the opportunity to work “big picture” in my time as Project Officer. As a primary school teacher it’s really easy to get caught up in the drama of your own classroom, let alone your own school.

The role of Project Officer has also given me so much insight into the experiences of teachers throughout NSW and in particular, other early career teachers across the state.

Message to the troops:

If you get the chance to be a Project Officer, grab the opportunity and go for it!


Future plans:

I can’t wait to get back to my school and classroom – I’ve really missed the kids! The opportunity has certainly enhanced my knowledge of the union and Departmental policies, which will be of great benefit if I am again elected Fed Rep. I also look forward to continuing in my role as Councillor for the Manning River Association for the remainder of 2017 and 2018.

Leanne Humes, Murwillumbah High School

Profile:

Association Vice President and Women’s Contact

Motivation:

I wanted to be more involved in Federation and I also wanted to learn more about the operation and functioning of Federation from a different perspective. I saw this role as a great way to develop personally while making a positive contribution to our union.

Life as a Project Officer:

I have gone on school visits, travelled parts of the state to reach different schools, helped out at Beginning Teacher Conferences, university and Department events, assisted at Council and also been a part of events outside the Project Officer Role such as helping at Fair Day and being a marshal at Mardi Gras.

I feel like my biggest role is communicating all day, with my fellow Project Officers, staff within Federation — Officers and Organisers and all of the other wonderful people who keep the place running — and teachers. I am constantly on the phone or emailing or communicating face to face (my favourite way). While the job is Sydney-based I have also travelled south through the Highlands and Illawarra, north to Tamworth and I am heading out to Coonabarabran for a Beginning Teacher Conference this term.

Best bits:

Working with passionate people and being able to visit different schools, chatting to teachers around the state and experiencing, if only in a small way, their triumphs, frustrations, culture and systems. I love it that I get to help teachers every day.

Memorable moment:

The Bundanoon Beginning Teachers Conference was one of my favourite experiences. I was blown away by the passion of the attendees and also by the quality of the professional learning.

Key learning:

I’ve learned that the people who make up Federation are amazing. I have been able to see first-hand how well our systems work and how hard the individuals who make up our collective work to ensure that teachers have the very best representation and support.

Personal growth:

I’ve built upon and developed skills around communication, presentation and organisation and learnt how to manage difficult situations. I’ve been able to work with passionate, inspiring educators and gain a deeper understanding of Federation, teaching processes and procedures, and the conditions in which teachers around our state work. I’ve also made some lifelong friends.

Message to the troops:

The Project Officer role can be extremely challenging. You work long hours, balancing multiple responsibilities and it can definitely wear you down. Having said that, it’s an amazing experience that deepens your knowledge and understanding of Federation while increasing your skills and capacity. It is a great way to become more involved as an activist.

Future plans:

This role definitely inspires you to increase your involvement and activism. I have volunteered at a number of Federation events since becoming a PO including Fair Day and being a Mardi Gras marshal. I will definitely jump at the chance to help out at future events and I’m looking forward to getting back into schools and motivating others to be more active too!

Cameron Reynolds, Liverpool Boys High School

Profile:

Fed Rep, Committee Member, Councillor for Liverpool Teachers Association, Annual Conference delegate for Illawarra Teachers Association, LGBTIQ Restricted Committee (2015-present), New Educators Network 12 (2014), National New Educators Network (2015), New Activist Conference 2014, 2015, 2016, presenter at New Activist Conference (2015, 2016), Bundanoon Beginners Teachers Conference (helped as NEN and PO), Mardi Gras float marshal.

Motivation:

My passion for public education, fairness and equality in the workplace.

Life as a Project Officer:

I have had the opportunity to promote the full range of benefits and services that Federation offers to all teachers in NSW public schools. I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most optimistic and selfless teachers face to face and discussing what motivates them to be the best teachers they can.

Being a Project Officer has allowed me to expand my knowledge of unionism as well as reinforce my passion for public education. I have been lucky enough to visit Bundanoon, the Illawarra and the far south Coast, as well as the Goulburn area, on top of Sydney, south-western Sydney, Southern Highlands, Northern Beaches, Hawkesbury and Sutherland Shire.

Best bits:

I have enjoyed meeting so many teachers with incredible motivation. I have also enjoyed expanding my knowledge of unionism and the collegiality involved with working in Federation.

Memorable moment:

Returning to the schools I attended and seeing the passion of the teachers who taught me still firing 20 years later. I also enjoyed hearing a spectator at the Mardi Gras call out, “Public school teachers rock! You guys helped me so much when I was in school.”

Key learnings

I have learned so many things including a variety of conversational skills, organisational skills — and how to use Excel to my advantage!

Message to the troops:

If you want to be a Project Officer, go for it. It is hard yakka but it is so worth it! You get the chance to meet enthusiastic and motivated public educators that deepen your passion for public education.

Future plans:

I have been fairly active for the past four years of my career but being a Project Officer has strengthened my passion for public Education and unionism, so watch this space!

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