Palm Island teaching inspires USC student

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Alan Miles with Tim Fairfax AC

A placement as a preservice teacher at Bwgcolman Community School on Palm Island, off Townsville, has helped inspire USC student Alan Miles to pursue a teaching career in a remote part of Queensland.

Mr Miles, 44, who completed a Bachelor of Education (Primary) Graduate Entry this semester, has secured a job at Mt Isa starting in January.

“I’ll be teaching Year 3 at Barkly Highway State School, which is fantastic,” he said.

“I’ve never been to Mt Isa and my wife and three-year-old son are very excited too.”

The Beerwah resident was one of 39 Education students to receive bursaries of up to $2,500 this year through USC’s Tim Fairfax Family Foundation Rural and Remote Education Bursary program.

Former USC Deputy Chancellor Tim Fairfax AC congratulated all bursary recipients at a special function held at the USC Art Gallery earlier this month.

Mr Miles, who previously worked in sales and manufacturing, decided to stop shiftwork when his son was born. He enrolled at USC to pursue a teaching dream.

“Going to Palm Island for my recent degree placement gave me great insight into life in an Indigenous community,” he said.

“It opened my eyes to the beauty and challenges of the culture. The bursary helped me offset the costs so I could gain this experience.

“I absolutely loved my degree. It’s changed our lives for the better.”

Mr Fairfax said he and his wife, Gina, started the bursary scheme at USC six years ago and have since helped 396 students to experience what it’s like to live and work in rural and remote towns across Queensland.

“The reason we fund these bursaries is because we had a cattle station between Monto and Biloela, so we know what it’s like to live in the bush, and we educated four girls who had to do a 180km round trip every day to go to school.

“We know the importance of having good teachers in these rural and regional schools. What we do here (at USC) gives us a great deal of satisfaction because we see what the outcomes are.

“After having been in a rural town, you would have discovered the uniqueness of living in a rural town,” he said to the bursary recipients. “There’s a gain both ways.”

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