Visionary educator Paul Neilsen champions ‘future focused’ students


​​Image credit: The Lockyer & Somerset Independent. Teacher Paul Neilsen with students at Sophia College Plainland. ​

Creativity and critical thinking helps students respond beyond traditional solutions – and it is a passion of Sophia College Plainland teacher Paul Neilsen.   

This Catholic Education week (23-29 July), Paul was applauded by Principal Narelle Dobson for taking a lead role in developing an innovative and unique science ecology technology (SET) program for Sophia College students as an example of his commitment to ensuring his students are future focused.  

“Paul believes in the power of interdisciplinary learning, combining science, ecology and technology to tackle complex environmental issues, which is what a Catholic education is all about,” she said.  


“His dedication to helping me develop our SET program has provided our students with a unique educational experience that fosters their passion for sustainability and prepares them with 21st Century skills for careers of the future. 


Paul Neilsen said while many schools taught engineering, he kept his student’s unique geographical location in mind when helping form the new subject 

“One of the biggest problems facing our region is the runoff of pesticides and fertilisers from farms during major flooding events that can contaminate both our riverways and the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay area,” he said. 


“We have students investigate solutions to these local bioaccumulation issues as part of our SET subject, with students encouraged to use inquiry-based learning to develop the knowledge and skills they need to create sustainable change.” 

Paul added the SET subject responds to Pope Francis’ call to ‘Care for Our Common Home.’ 


“My hope is that our students will combine their developing capabilities in collaboration and critical thinking with their Franciscan faith tradition to design future focused solutions,” he said. 


Head of Education - Strategy, Policy and Innovation Marisa Dann said Sophia College’s new program aligns with BCE’s direction of creating schools that are future-fit environments where our students can connect and transform through innovative, research-driven approaches.  

“Our focus is on reimagining student voice, inquiry and collaboration so that our students are equipped with capabilities needed for their learning and wellbeing. Our leaders are empowered to deliver purposeful transformation and our schools are future-focused at all times,” she said. 

Top stories