Cerebral palsy is no barrier for new teacher

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Cerebral palsy is no barrier for new teacher


Published on 10 September 2012

10 September 2012

The physical limitations that come with having cerebral palsy never stopped Patrick Walden of Woombye in his quest to help others when he was a student at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

And that determination is now shining through for Patrick, 23, who recently completed his Graduate Diploma of Education at USC and secured a teaching contract at Coolum State High School.

Patrick is now teaching Business and Information and Communications Technology at the same school in which he did his final practicum placement last semester.

“My dream finally feels like a reality,” Patrick said. “I am thoroughly enjoying teaching my own classes and making positive contributions to the lives of young people and the school community.”

Patrick’s story is inspiring. He graduated from Mountain Creek State High School in 2007, having completed two university subjects though USC’s Headstart program.

He then fast-tracked his Business degree, but at the same time worked as a Peer Adviser for USC’s Student Life and Learning and volunteered as a member of the University’s Student Liaison Committee.

Patrick said he had never let the physical challenges of cerebral palsy prevent him from achieving his academic or career goals.

“It’s just a matter of working out the best way of doing things to suit my needs,” Patrick said. “As a teacher, it means that I rely heavily on technology and the use of electronic presentations to communicate written information.

“The students who I have taught have been very accepting of my disability. They have not treated me differently and have been very accommodating to the fact that I rely on their independence for us all to function well in the classroom.”

Coolum State High School principal Lee Goossens said he believed the school was fortunate to have had Patrick teach there during his pre-service training and now as a qualified teacher.

“From a public education point of view, if we are to be truly inclusive, then this needs to be seen and actioned in all aspects of our organisation, including our teaching staff,” he said. “There is strength in diversity.”

USC’s Student Service Director Dr Eva-Marie Seeto said Patrick had been popular at USC and she wished him well in his teaching career.

“Patrick really immersed himself in the university experience by being actively involved in extra-curricular activities,” she said.

“He was an inspirational mentor for new students as he had a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve and he made the most of every opportunity.”

— Michelle Widdicombe

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