2018 ended on a high for St John Fisher College, Bracken Ridge, relief teacher, Amanda Barry, when she picked up the inaugural Queensland Relief Teacher of the Year Award.
The award, presented by Teachers Mutual Bank and ClassCover, was introduced to recognise the important contribution made by relief teachers, whose extraordinary courage and strength often went unseen amidst the frenzy of a regular school day.
Amanda said she felt honoured and humbled to receive the inaugural award.
“It was very unexpected when I got the phone call to tell me the great news and I was quite surprised to hear it," she said.
“In a way it validates what I do and that I am valued for it."
She joined St John Fisher College as a part-time Business and IT teacher in 2016.
However, when that contract ended at the end of that year, she began working with them as a relief teacher and taking small contracts when they came up
Amanda, who has worked contract at a number of different schools since graduating from university in 2011, said she loved working at the college.
“It is the best school I have been at and would love to end up teaching full-time there in the future.
“The staff members all work together and make you feel very welcoming when you are there.
“They have the most amazing leadership team who are there if you need anything and makes the school run so smoothly.
“The students are wonderful, and it is such a pleasure to teach them."
College Assistant Principal for Pastoral Care Andrew McEwan said Amanda was a great asset to the college community as he commended her on the well-deserved accomplishment.
Andrew said Amanda was the kind of teacher you want when you are stuck at home, unwell, or at a Professional Learning session and cannot be with your class.
“She is a collaborative practitioner who will go above and beyond to ensure that students are not only engaged in the work you have set but will energetically provide feedback and proactively seek responses to questions she cannot answer.
“In short, Amanda is the ultimate surrogate teacher who consistently goes above and beyond for her students.
“Our staff trust Amanda with their classes so much so that they will request her (often fighting over each other to get her).
“She is able to slot in to just about any subject area and thrive."
St John Fisher College teacher Susanne Perey said Amanda, who was a pleasure to work with, was caring, empathetic, engaging and bubbly and interacted beautifully with students.
“Amanda is the ultimate professional, adapting to the context of her relief position to ensure positive outcomes for the students and staff she is relieving," she said.
Ask any relief teacher to describe what their standard work day looked like, their recount might closely resemble a day in the life of someone herding cats.
However, most of the time, they miraculously managed to pull it off.
Amanda said relief teaching had its challenges, but it also had its special moments.
“Behaviour is one challenge you face when relief teaching," she said.
“Some students believe they can get away with things they couldn't with their full-time teacher.
“They can be quite disruptive at times, so it is important to let them know your expectations at the start especially if teaching them for the first time."
However, Amanda said she believed students got the very best of her every day as she did not have all the extra pressures that are put on teachers today.
“Working in different schools and with different students allows me to have a huge variety of strategies and plans in place to deal with almost any situation.
“I love how I get students asking me if they have me today and being happy when I say yes or disappointed when I say no.
“It is a nice feeling to know that they want you in their classroom," she said.
Brisbane Catholic Education Office
2A Burke Street, Woolloongabba Qld 4102 Australia
Turrbal and Yuggera Country
GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia
Phone: (07) 3033 7000
Fax: (07) 3844 5101