Name: Sarita Lawler
Sarita Lawler has been teaching for only 15 weeks, but already she’s been making an impact at Katherine High School in the Northern Territory.
After completing her teaching degree at the Queensland University of Technology last year, Sarita found it tough going trying to find a good job in her home state. But when a job came up for a physical education (PE) teacher at Katherine High, Sarita realised it was just the job she was after.
“It’s been really good,” says Sarita of her first term and a half. “It’s been challenging but I like a challenge. It’s certainly not boring, like the Catholic high school I went to as a girl.
“And every classroom that I walk into, the kids all greet me with a big smile!”
Because Sarita is teaching students who have different levels of literacy and numeracy within the one class, she has had to find new ways to inspire and encourage her students.
But whatever problems some kids might have in the classroom evaporate once they hit the sporting field. Sarita says she’s in awe of the some of the students’ sporting prowess. “You feel like there’s nothing more you can show them – they’re so talented!”
But there’s more to physical education than just sports and games – Sarita also teaches her students important life skills that focus on nutrition, fitness and drug and alcohol abuse.
“A lot of the kids say that they’ll never use the things they learn in maths class in their real life,” says Sarita. “But these skills that I’m teaching them are something they can take with them and use for the rest of their lives.”
Sarita also includes a lot of Indigenous games in her classes as a way to educate her students about traditional and contemporary Indigenous culture.
“You can teach the kids about where the game comes from, and what they used to play them with,” she says.
“The kids love it, and some of them have even taught the rest of us games that they play in their own communities.”
Sarita is passionate about bringing Indigenous awareness to all kids, not just at Katherine High but at schools all over the country.
“There are so many ways that you can bring this knowledge to the kids – through history, physical education, health and social science,” she explains. “People just need to be open to new ideas.”