The Auracle – Volume 41, May 2020

From the Principal’s desk

Do you know a young person in your community who would benefit from a selective school education? The application processes for Years 5, 8, 9 and 10 for entry in 2021 commence soon.

Why a selective school/opportunity class?

Selective high schools and opportunity classes cater for academically gifted students with high potential who may otherwise be without sufficient classmates of their own academic standard. These educational provisions help students to learn by grouping them with students of similar ability, using specialised teaching methods and educational materials at the appropriate level.

Why Aurora College?

For over five years, Aurora College has been providing great teaching and inspired learning in a whole new context, by allowing students in rural and remote communities to connect locally and to learn globally. Aurora is committed to building relationships which foster in its students, a strong sense of belonging to Aurora and to their home school. Remaining in their local community, Aurora students benefit from the enhanced opportunities that come from belonging to two education communities.

Join the bright lights of Aurora College. Applications for entry into Years 5, 8, 9 and 10 open soon.

Aurora College is dedicated to creating opportunities that will build each student’s capacity to become an autonomous, life-long learner. Aurora College embraces the philosophy of ‘personal best’, acknowledging that each student’s drive towards self-improvement in a curriculum rich in higher-order thinking provides a strong foundation for success in life beyond the school years. Aurora’s vision is to develop students who are not only at ease in the digital world, but who are empowered through their knowledge, skills and creativity to become influential contributors to the knowledge economies of this century.

When and how do I apply for entry in Year 5?

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Opportunity Class Placement Test has been rescheduled to Wednesday 16 September 2020. Parents must apply between Tuesday 9 June 2020 and Friday 26 June 2020. This process is conducted by the Department’s High Performing Students Unit and late applications cannot be accepted.

For this year only, changes have been made to the placement process to ensure students are placed in Year 5 opportunity classes across the state as early in 2021 as possible. Placement in an opportunity class in 2021 will be based solely on the results of the test. This year, principals will not be required to provide school assessment scores, but they will be requested to verify the information entered by parents. Offers will be made to successful students overnight on 1 December 2020.

The Aurora College virtual opportunity class will be based on the highly successful pilot program. Students will study mathematics, science and technology with Aurora College and they will study the balance of the curriculum with their home school peers. Aurora College lessons for our Stage 3 students will have a focus on STEM and will use an inquiry-based learning approach.

To be eligible for enrolment in the virtual opportunity class, students must also be enrolled in a NSW Government school which is classified as rural and remote. Students at schools with opportunity class provisions, or at schools within the drawing areas of existing opportunity class provisions, will not be eligible to apply. Click here to view the list of eligible host schools.

The first intake of Year 5 Aurora students will be in 2021. These students will comprise Aurora’s first Year 6 cohort in 2022 and there will be a new intake of Year 5 students in this, and in each subsequent year. For further information on the Opportunity Class Placement Process, please visit the Department’s Opportunity Class website.

When and how do I apply for entry in Years 8, 9 and 10?

Students who did not qualify and/or did not apply for entry in Year 7 have the opportunity to apply for the selective stream in Years 8, 9 and 10. To be eligible for enrolment, students must also be enrolled in a NSW Government secondary school which is classified as a rural and remote.

Applications for enrolment open on 19 June 2020 and close on 24 July 2020. Unlike the enrolment processes for other years, application for entry in Years 8, 9 and 10 is made directly to the school. A submitted application must include:

  • a completed application form
  • copies of school reports (Semester 1 from the current year and Semester 2 from the previous year)
  • results in academic competitions (eg Australian Mathematics Competition)
  • evidence of performance in literacy and numeracy (eg NAPLAN results).

For further information, please visit

Enjoy another great edition of The Auracle.

Chris Robertson | Principal

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Deputy Principal’s report

Welcome back to Term 2.  After what has been a very different start to the term for the whole of the state, I would like to extend my gratitude to all the wonderful staff here at Aurora College who have been able to adjust quickly to any changes necessary to ensure the support and delivery of quality education to our students. Many of our shared teachers were able to shine as online teaching experts as they were able to share their skills and knowledge with their home schools. Also, a big thank you to Virginia Cluff (Head Teacher Science), Serena McLean (Assistant Principal Stage 3) and Ben Hilllsey (Learning Technologies Support Officer) for work that they have completed with the professional development of teachers across the state, supporting them to navigate the new world of online teaching.

Virginia Cluff and Serena McLean presenting to colleagues across the state in a professional learning session


Semester 1 reports were issued to Year 12 parents on 11 May with parent interviews taking place on 20 May. We hope you enjoyed receiving informative feedback regarding your child’s learning. Semester 1 reports for Year 11 students will be issued on 5 June (Week 6) and Years 6 to 10 from 22 June (Week 9). These will be issued via email and the Sentral parent portal ( Unlike the Term 1 interim report, the Semester 1 report is a full ‘academic’ report. It will show the progress that each student is making towards achieving specific course outcomes.

Parent-teacher meetings

Parent-teacher meetings will occur between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm on the following dates:

  • Week 7 on Wednesday 10 June for Year 11
  • Week 10 on Monday 29 June for Years 7 and 9
  • Week 10 on Monday 29 June for Stage 3 Opportunity Class
  • Week 10 on Tuesday 30 June for Years 8 and 10.

These meetings will allow all parents to discuss their child’s progress. Meetings will take place via telephone. Further information, including how to book an appointment, will be emailed to all parents.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s progress or well-being, please contact the coordinating office by phone on 1300 287 629 or email at

Assessment handbooks and scope and sequences

Assessment handbooks and scope and sequences are now available in Sentral via the parent portal ( These resources allow parents to further support their children by accessing timelines for formal assessment tasks and topic outlines of their courses.

Student attendance

With students returning to full on-campus learning this week attendance is an area that will be monitored closely by the NSW Department of Education and Aurora College. All students should be at school unless:

  • they have a medical certificate which states they are unable to return to school due to an ongoing medical condition
  • they are currently unwell.

As you would be aware, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has indicated that they ROSA, Preliminary HSC, and HSC will continue as planned in 2020 with some minor adjustments. Parents need to be aware that this means students still need to attend school regularly to meet the course requirements of the ROSA, Preliminary HSC, and HSC. Student attendance is recorded in each lesson at Aurora. The coordinator or parents/caregivers are required to inform the coordinating office of Aurora College within seven days if a student is sick, or:

  • has an unavoidable medical or dental appointment
  • is required to attend a recognised religious holiday
  • is required to attend an exceptional or urgent family circumstance
  • has a home school commitment including school excursions, school carnivals etc.
  • arrives late or leaves early from an Aurora lesson at a time which has not been negotiated and does not appear on his/her timetable.

The Aurora College coordinating office may be reached by email at or by telephone on 1300 287 629.

If students miss more than 15% of class, letters of concern (for Years 7-9) or N-Awards warning letters (for Years 10-12) will be sent home. This informs parents that the student is missing work and/or is at risk of not fulfilling course requirements.

Students on leave for extended periods

A Certificate of Exemption must be obtained from the Principal of your home school if the student plans to be on leave for extended periods. An example of when this may be required is when travelling overseas. In the case where a student is granted a Certificate of Exemption, Aurora College requires a copy to be forwarded to the coordinating office via the ACC. In order to meet course outcomes, students will still be required to complete assessment tasks and classwork as negotiated by the Head Teacher for each subject.

Home school excursions or events

Students involved in home school excursions, such as sports or swimming carnivals, must notify Aurora College via their ACC or their parents. This also applies to special events in schools where the students will be absent from their usual Aurora classes.

Extensions for assessment tasks

An extension for an assessment task may be granted in exceptional circumstances where students are unable to complete the task by the due date, because of illness or misadventure (eg: accident, unforeseen event). The illness/misadventure form must be completed and signed by the student, parent/guardian, and the Aurora College Coordinator. The coordinator will then email a scanned copy of the form to the classroom teacher and the relevant Head Teacher Curriculum. The completed form must be forwarded within 2 days of the request for the extension. The Head Teacher will review the application and any supporting documentation before deciding to uphold or decline the application. Each application is assessed independently, so it is important to attach comprehensive evidence.

If a student is absent from class on the day of an ‘in-class’ assessable task, they should have a completed illness/misadventure form with them when they return to school and should expect to complete the assessable item on their first day of return to Aurora College lessons.

What’s coming up?

  • Year 11 academic reports issued by 5 June
  • Year 7-10 academic reports issued by 22 June
  • Year 11 parent interviews on Wednesday 10 June
  • Year 7 and 9 parent interviews on Monday 29 June
  • Year 8 and 10 parent interviews on Tuesday 30 June
  • Year 6 parent interviews on Monday 29 June

Carolyn McMurtrie | Acting Deputy Principal

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Masterclasses and professional learning

Dr Brad Tucker – Astophysicist and Cosmologist

The lockdown didn’t prevent amazing online events from happening at Aurora. We continued to engage a range of professionals to speak with staff, students and parents in various capacities.


Did you know that the moon has 4G internet? Astrophysicist and Cosmologist, Dr Brad Tucker, spoke with Aurora students via Zoom on Thursday 14 May to two groups of approximately 100 students each about an amazing array of space-related topics. Each topic was accompanied by equally fascinating images and videos. Students loved this masterclass and were highly engaged – they asked great questions too. Other topics included the future of space exploration, the composition of the universe, time travel, teleportation and alien life forms.

Another masterclass on Tuesday 26th May was delivered by Guy Webb, father of an Aurora student, who gave up his time to speak with year 7-10 students from his lab in Forbes.  He shared interesting information about climate science, graphs showing exponential changes in carbon dioxide levels and what his innovative start-up organisation is doing about it. With global investment and interest from various governing bodies, SoilCQuest 2031, is looking to store carbon in soils by using fungus and actively slow global warming. Guy inspired Aurora students to make a difference.

Professional learning

We continue to provide widespread access to high quality professional learning events online for government school staff across NSW. Recently, Lisa O’Neill from NESA addressed 200 teachers and leaders about changes to assessment during the time of COVID-19 restrictions. Feedback indicated that 95% or participants thought it was excellent, very good or good, with engaging delivery and relevant content resulting in three quarters of participants feeling much more confident in this area. One participant commented, ‘I always enjoy Aurora’s professional learning [sessions], they are always engaging

Dr Kristy Goodwin shared her expertise in raising kids in a screen world

Parent webinars

We have hosted a few parent webinars this year, one of which was accessing students reports. For a quick ‘how to’ guide on using Sentral, go to the Sentral Parent Portal Guide here: If you get stuck or have any questions registering for Sentral, please contact the wonderful IT team.

Dr Kristy Goodwin spoke with parents via Zoom on Tuesday 13th May at 7pm about ‘Raising kids in a screen world’. She shared evidence-based research, a few of her own parenting tips, answered questions and provided resources. All parents were sent a link to the recording, and below are links to relevant resources she recommended:

Kate Thompson | Head Teacher, Teaching & Learning

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Aurora College e-mentoring program

The beginning of Term 2 saw the commencement or Aurora College’s e-Mentoring program for 2020. The program allows students to pair up with professionals from the outside community based on their future career aspirations as well as their interests.

Our mentors give guidance on everything from how to enter the workforce in your interested field to stress and time management. Our students always look forward to their mentoring sessions which are typically conducted every 2-4 weeks, primarily in the iSee 3D virtual environment.

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If you are interested in becoming a mentor then please visit our website and submit an application. You can find this by following the link hereIf you are a student and wish to participate in the program next year (2021), please fill in an EOI found here.

Connor Boyko| Rel. Head Teacher, Teaching and Learning

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Faculty news – English, HSIE and Languages

Year 7

This term, the Year 7 assessment required students to write an original and imaginative narrative where they incorporated all the important elements of storytelling. Their stories also needed to convey a sense of a particular culture or subculture.

Students were assessed on their ability to construct an effective narrative that used elements such as setting, plot, character and narrative voice. They also needed to use appropriate language forms and features to write in an engaging way and write with clarity and control of expression. Year 7 produced some wonderful and highly creative pieces of work encompassing many different ancient and contemporary cultures and sub-cultures from around the world.

Enjoy this selection:

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Year 8

This term, Year 8 have been learning about ‘The Hero’s Journey’. For their Assessment Task, they wrote an original narrative which incorporated the stages and archetypes of ‘The Hero’s Journey’ in under 1100 words.

Students were also assessed on their ability to create a well-structured narrative and use language forms and features such as imagery, dialogue, and characterisation. Year 8 produced many creative and original work samples in a variety of settings both ancient and modern. Following is a sample.

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Year 9

For the first Year 9 assessment task, students were required to submit an imaginative response that was written from the perspective of one of the characters from their focus text – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Night by Elie Wiesel.

Students worked on developing a strong narrative voice and learnt to consider how events and experiences would shape a character’s point of view. Students were assessed on their ability to construct an effective narrative that used literary devices and stylistic features with sophistication. Please enjoy reading this selection of highly creative pieces that reflected the culture, issues and themes that were evident in their novels.

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Year 10

What makes non-fiction so compelling to read? It’s real life, told in interesting and creative ways. Creative non-fiction can range from the tragic to the comic and is compelling because we are connecting through shared human experiences.

Year 10 studied a range of creative non-fiction writing, looking at life writing, performance poetry, and satirical texts. Students examined the mechanics of these texts and tried to apply the techniques used by some of the most talented writers in the world in their own pieces. They had plenty of inspiration to draw from, whether the topic was drought, bushfires or social distancing! What you’re about to read is a selection of some of the most unique and compelling pieces our students produced.

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Year 11 Advanced English

What makes a great writer? This was the question Year 11 were asked at the beginning of term. All great writers have heroes they aspire to emulate, and our Year 11 students spent Term 1 exploring elements of quality writing. They also explored what inspires beautiful compositions and used these techniques for their own work.

Students undertook the intensive and close reading of quality texts to further develop their skills and knowledge necessary to appreciate, understand, analyse and evaluate how and why texts convey complex ideas.

What you’re about to read are excerpts of our students considered and thoughtful writing and judicious reflection of their developing skills and knowledge as writers. We’re immensely proud of their work.

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English Extension 1

The first module of work being studied in Year 11 Extension 1 English is Texts, Culture and Value. Students explore the ways in which aspects of texts from the past have been carried forward, borrowed from and/or appropriated into more recent cultures.

Throughout our study of the module, there is an emphasis on introducing students to different texts with the same conceptual focus. For our current 11 Extension English 1 cohort, the conceptual focus is on the ‘archetypal quest’. For their first assessment, students were asked to compose an archetypal quest narrative that demonstrated their understanding of the social function of quest narratives and their capacity for reinvention over time.

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Luisa McDiarmid (Simeonidis) | Acting Head Teacher English, HSIE, and Languages

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Faculty news – Science and Agriculture

The Year 10 classes of 2020 have recently completed an assessment task focusing on vaccination in science. Please click on the link below to view a sample.

We hope you enjoy watching these videos and learn some interesting facts and figures about vaccination.

Virginia Cluff | Head Teacher Science and Agriculture

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Faculty news – Mathematics, Software Design and Development

As we quickly approach the middle of second term, this is the first opportunity I have had to introduce myself as the Relieving Head Teacher Mathematics and Software Design and Development. As many of you are aware, Mrs Kathy Howard is currently working with for the Department of Education on a curriculum project with rural and remote schools.

Scott New

During the time as relieving head teacher, I will be based in my substantiative school of Belmont High in the Lake Macquarie area of Newcastle. I grew up in Wagga and Orange and completed my teaching degree in Bathurst. I taught for 12 years in country New South Wales in the remote and rural towns of Broken Hill, Warren and Yeoval, before moving to the coast for family reasons. After some time as a Deputy Principal I returned to the classroom. The opportunity to work with rural and remote students again was too much to pass up and I look forward to seeing our students both online and at residential school (we hope) later in the year.

Our Years 7 -10 students have just completed their second assessment task for the year and the Mathematics faculty are busy marking them to ensure we can utilise these results as part of our semester one reports. After 6 weeks in this role, I can honestly say I have never seen a school where the staff (of all faculties) work so hard to help students by providing quick quality feedback to assessment and class work.

Our Year 11 students will shortly receive their next round of assessment tasks. I look forward to seeing the results and the progress these students have made in preparing for their HSC year. In reality, we have finished half of the Year 11 course already. Year 12 students are now thinking about how they best prepare for their final sets of tasks and getting ready for the final run into their HSC. Despite the difficulties of the last few months, I am very confident in the quality of results the students of Aurora College will produce.

Scott New | Acting Head Teacher Mathematics, Software Design and Development

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Learning and support


According to the Cambridge English dictionary mindfulness is:

 “the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm”


 What is mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness training adapted from Buddhist mindfulness meditation.
  • Mindfulness is about being in the present moment, without making judgment.
  • It allows us to experience our body and feelings in each moment with acceptance, and helps free us of mental ‘clutter’.

When we are being mindful, we simply allow our thoughts to come and go. We don’t need to question or judge what’s happening in our thoughts. If we can cultivate this ability to observe our thoughts as simply thoughts without ‘buying in’ to them, we can free ourselves of our tendency to overthink and be critical of ourselves and others.

How does mindfulness help us?

Our lives are so fast and full of stresses and distractions, it’s easy to run on autopilot (mindlessly) and become agitated by all the conflicting thoughts and buzz in our heads. Mindfulness helps us stop getting caught up in thinking about the past or worrying about the future. It helps us slow down and be in the ‘now’.

Mindfulness can change the way our brain and nervous system function. It can allow our parasympathetic nervous system to take over and place us in a state of rest, healing and restoration. When people practice mindfulness, they are able to achieve lasting positive changes to their wellbeing.

 A fact sheet on mindfulness in everyday life can be downloaded from here.

Bite Back, the Black Dog Institute’s mental health and wellbeing site for youth.

This site allows teens to complete quizzes, explore mindfulness activities, and read real stories. Here you will find:

  • Mental Fitness Check-up – Are you getting the most out of life or letting good experiences pass you by?
  • Personality Quiz – Get the lowdown on your personality.
  • Thank Tank – Did you know writing down the things you’re grateful for can increase levels of happiness? Use THANK TANK to capture life’s awesome moments.
  • Mindfulness Quiz – Are you getting the benefits of living in the moment?
  • Snap That – Photography is an awesome way to practise mindfulness. It clears your head and trains your brain to focus!
  • Gratitude Quiz – Enhance positivity by being thankful every day.
  • Power Up – Modern meditations to help you tune in, chill out and recharge.
  • Connections Quiz – Having solid relationships with a few people that you can count on is important to your health, happiness and wellbeing.
  • Meaning quiz – Finding meaning is about having purpose in life.
  • Happiness Quiz- How happy are you right now and what does it mean?
  • Flow Quiz – Ever felt like you‘re ‘in the zone’?
  • Real Stories – Overcome adversity? Conquered a fear? Persevered through a tough time? REAL STORIES is a place for you to share your stories of resilience and strength and get inspiration from others.
  • Strengths Quiz – Are you playing to your strengths?

Did you know there are two ways you can practice mindfulness?


  • Formal Mindfulness
    • Formal practice is mindfulness meditation where you sit, usually with the eyes closed, and focus attention on one thing, usually either your breathing or the sensations experienced within your body.
  • Informal Mindfulness
    • With informal practice you bring the same kind of improved attention that you might get from formal practice to everyday situations.
    • This involves directing your full and non-judgemental attention to the activity you’re undertaking at a particular moment – it might be washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, chatting with a friend or studying.
    • There is even such a thing as mindful colouring! Click Here to see some free images.

One for the younger students

Please explore some of these resources and see how practising mindfulness may be beneficial to you and your family.

Cathy Groth | Wellbeing Coordinator

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Wellbeing tips and resources for senior students during COVID-19



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Library news

The Aurora Book Club launched in iSee this term! Students in Years 7-10 are trialling this space to talk about books and meet with other keen readers.

During Book Club time we talk about our favourite books, new releases, and what’s new in the Aurora College Digital Library for ebooks and audiobooks.

Students are to meet in the iSee lecture hall on a Thursday from 1.20 pm.

Microsoft Teams

Announcements related to the Aurora College Digital Library are being posted in the Aurora College Students Team. So far this term, there has been information shared with students related to digital resources we subscribe to, author readings, and writing competitions students may like to enter.

The Aurora Book Club meets in the iSee lecture hall on a Thursday from 1.20 pm

Please encourage your child to access the Aurora College Students Team to keep up to date with these announcements.

Aurora College Reading Challenge

The 2020 Aurora College Reading Challenge is open to all Aurora College students and staff. A total of eight (8) books are to be read, one from each of the categories listed here.

The Challenge concludes on Tuesday, 1 December 2020. All entries are to be emailed to our teacher-librarian:

Recommending resources

To recommend resources for our digital library, it is as easy as sending me an email (, with a subject, book title or author’s name: this is our school library – student and staff contributions are most welcome.

Kaylene Taylor | Teacher Librarian

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Bright lights

Makayla joins the NSW Youth Advisory Council

Makayla, Year 8

The NSW Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People advised Makayla (Year 8, Young High School) last week that she has been accepted to take part in The NSW Youth Advisory Council. The Council meets regularly throughout the year to discuss a range of relevant topics, as well as monitoring and evaluating youth-related policies and legislation which affect young people.

The 12 Council members, aged between 12 and 24, come from all over the state and are broadly representative of the diversity of young people living in NSW. Members of the NSW Youth Advisory Council:

  • advise the Minister and the Advocate on the planning, development, integration and implementation of government policies and programs concerning young people
  • consult with young people, community groups and government agencies on issues and policies concerning young people
  • monitor and evaluate legislation and government policies and programs concerning young people and recommend changes if required
  • conduct forums, approved by the Minister, on issues of interest to young people
  • collect, analyse and provide the Minister and the Advocate with information on issues and policies concerning young people.

Well done, Makayla!

Why saying sorry isn’t enough

Joseph (Year 10, Hay War Memorial High School) was selected by the NSW Department of Education to write about his feelings on National Sorry Day.

Joseph, Year 10

Published here on the Department’s website, Joseph explains why he believes National Sorry Day should have a higher profile in the community.

Joseph is a proud Wiradjuri man from Hay. In a very poignant article, he wrote “Reflecting on Sorry Day makes me think of my Elders and what they endured.”

Joseph was a welcome addition to our school in Year 9 in 2019.

Congratulations, Joseph.

Future Bright Lights

If your child has a passion outside of our virtual classrooms, please feel free to email us a few words and an image. It is always lovely to celebrate what our students are up to in their local communities! Please email:, marked: attention The Auracle.

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Spotlight on… Elizabeth Hooper

Where was your previous teaching appointment?

Most recently, I was teaching at Auburn Girls High School in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. It was a beautiful community with a lot of care shown for each other.

What is your local community like?

I have just moved to Lane Cove, where Mowbray Public School / Aurora HQ is based. I have only just moved here with my cat but so far I am loving how green it is and how easily I can walk to see the water. I rented my flat based solely on the beautiful gumtree I can see from my balcony.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

I love English. I have also had the privilege of teaching History, Geography, Maths, and Science which I love as well and studied each at university in some capacity, but English holds an extra warm place in my heart. I really believe that the richest thing in life is learning from other people’s experiences and learning to express yourself. English as a subject teaches both these things. I believe that it is so special to be able to teach about how films, books, poetry, and other media tell people’s stories as well as teaching the skills for students to express themselves. I feel very lucky that I get to teach about humans as my job.

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

I think it’s really special to be a part of a geographically diverse community. I have enjoyed the genuine warmth I have felt from all the staff and I think it’s exciting to get the chance to offer special learning experiences for students across all of NSW.

What are your other interests?

My favourite thing is to go to the movies. I love the excitement when the lights go down and the fun of getting to know some new characters and see how they develop and the anticipation of what could happen to them. My favourites are zombie movies and anything by Taika Waititi or Jordan Peele. I am also passionate about good pastry and love to go for a coffee and sweets.

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