Attending school & completing school

Teacher swaps chalk for wax

Name: Margie Mills

Teaching is one of the most important and challenging professions around and few people understand the pressures many teachers face. After 15 years of teaching physical education, Margie Mills has found that the perfect way to unwind after a hard day’s work is to get down to the ocean and escape into her favourite pastime – surfing.

Margie did her schooling in Brisbane and then began a traineeship with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. She went on to study teaching and then moved to the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland for the customary three years of country service. While working there, she spent time working at primary schools from Malanda, Ravenshoe, Yungaburra, Milla Milla and Butchers Creek.

“I was always good at sport and was competing at the State level for netball, athletics, swimming and softball while I was at school,” says Margie. “It was one of my teachers at the time who suggested that I give teaching a go. I also tended to always be helping the other kids in the class.”

After deciding to get into teaching, Margie couldn’t have asked for a bigger challenge to kickstart her career

“My country service was really challenging because I was teaching at a primary level but had been trained at a high school level,” she says. “It was eye-opening as well as nerve-racking but overall it was a really good experience.”

Margie, 36, has spent the past four years teaching physical education and social science at Southport State High on the Gold Coast. She is also completing a graduate certificate in TSOL (Teaching Students of Other Languages)

“I know from my own background that there are many people around the Torres Strait who speak English as a second language and it’s good to try something new,” says Margie. “I’ve been teaching physical education for a long time so it will be a good change.”

While she is looking forward to a new challenge, sport remains one of the most important facets of Margie’s life both at work and outside of work.

“Coming from a sporting background, I enjoy the fact that my work allows me to experience different kinds of games and sports with the students,” says Margie.

“I also enjoy teaching social science because I get to discuss social issues, history and geography with them.”

Outside the classroom, Margie loves nothing more than surfing, a pastime she has enjoyed for more than 20 years. She has even competed in various Indigenous surfing events, travelling from North Stradbroke to Wollongong and Newcastle.

“I’ll get down to the surf three or four times a week if I’m lucky,” says Margie, who is extremely proud of her Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.

“I just enjoy being in the ocean and surfing is a sport that’s always different and changes all the time – it really helps me. If I have a bad day at work, I’ll just head down to the surf and enjoy myself.”

To other Indigenous teachers just beginning their careers, Margie has this advice.

“I’d say to just keep in mind that you’re a role model not only for Indigenous students but also for non-Indigenous students,” she says. “You may be the only contact many kids will have with an Indigenous person and we can prove that we are capable, professional people who are also great teachers.”

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