“We put our students’ wellbeing at the forefront of everything we do”

Three teachers from our independent high schools share their stories and insights into alternative education this World Teachers’ Day.
World Teacher's Day classroom

To celebrate the positive impact of teachers and their essential role in communities, three teachers from Youth Off The Streets’ schools share what inspired them to become teachers and why they were drawn to alternative education at Youth Off The Streets. 

Chandra Thete – Step Up Teacher, Key College 

Chandra has been a teacher for 17 years – nearly three of those spent at Key College. 

“My passion for helping students achieve their full potential inspired me to become a teacher. It’s fulfilling to support the education of the younger generation.  

“One of my favourite parts about being a teacher is working with deeply caring and passionate staff members.  

“Youth Off The Streets is an inclusive learning environment where, through programs such as Step Up, we are promoting integrative and meaningful learning.  

“I use yoga, meditation and maintaining a calm nature to help my students reach their full potential. 

“There is a significant focus at Youth Off The Streets on improving student engagement and encouraging students to participate in a safe learning environment.”

“One of my favourite memories has been supporting the robotics team – it was incredible to see how talented and dedicated our students are!” 

John Martin – Acting School Principal, The Lakes College, EDEN College and Craig David College 

John became a teacher in 2008 and has worked at Youth Off The Streets for 10 years. 

“I was working with an organisation that highly valued education. Over time, I became more curious about the role of a teacher and the importance of having a teacher who finds value in a student, no matter the challenges they face in the classroom. 

“I spoke with the organisation, and they supported me as I retrained to become a teacher.  

“University required that one of our school practicals was to be spent in an alternative education setting. I went with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation to work for a week with an Indigenous community. 

“The approach was different to anything I had experienced in a mainstream classroom. It piqued my interest, and I began to explore doing school differently.  

“At Youth Off The Streets, we put our students’ wellbeing at the forefront of everything we do. 

“When I speak to colleagues at other alternative schools, we discuss what makes each other’s school setting stand out. 

“My colleagues always say that Youth Off The Streets’ education offers students flexible ways to be supported and achieve their best. 

“We have the autonomy and expertise to adjust and modify when we need to. 

“One of my favourite memories throughout my career has been the opening of The Lakes College on the Central Coast. 

“I was able to take our experience and bring it to my local region to offer support and guidance to our youth. I appreciate that Youth Off The Streets took the chance to open in an area outside of Greater Sydney. 

“I am proud that the community has embraced the fantastic work done by the staff at The Lakes College. 

“Like all of our schools, it has shared in sadness with the community. It also celebrates with them while the students achieve success and feel a positive sense of belonging. 

“I believe if you are genuine and consistent in their lives, students find the motivation to give themselves a chance.” 

Michael Bowen – Teacher, EDEN College 

Michael has been a teacher for 16 years and just entered his 10th year working with Youth Off The Streets. 

“In a past life, I was a chef. The only thing I enjoyed about being a chef was working with the apprentices and teaching them skills. I decided to apply to university to study teaching. 

“At first, I worked in mainstream schools. I didn’t appreciate how students were penalised through detentions or suspensions, things that were outside their control.  

“They didn’t want to hear the students’ issues; they only seemed to care about why they weren’t completing the work in classes.  

“Youth Off The Streets’ schools focus on things that I believe are more important to creating a healthy, whole person – not just someone who can use Pythagoras’ theorem.  

“My favourite part about the job is getting to work with young people on a deeper level about where they want to go in life. At Youth Off The Streets, we have the ability to think beyond the classroom.  

“An example is when a student left our school and moved to Melbourne before he could graduate and attend his presentation day.  

“Youth Off The Streets flew him back to Sydney so that he could attend his presentation day. It’s all about connections here. 

“The easiest way to inspire students is to tap into something they enjoy or are passionate about.”

“I don’t do my job just to teach content or outcomes. I’m here so that when students  have what I call ‘aha’ moments, I can guide them to where they want to go, using those moments to assist them on their journey.” 

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