New teacher keen to finally meet her students - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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New teacher keen to finally meet her students

18 May 2020

Recent USC graduate Savannah Epskamp might have started her career as a school teacher during a highly disrupted period of education, but she’s taking it all in her stride.

Savannah, 35, of Sippy Downs began a contract teaching role at Christ the King Catholic Primary School in Deception Bay at the beginning of May when most of her students were learning online at home due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

In just under a week, however, her entire Year 5 will return to school for the first time in two months, and for some of the students it will be the first time they meet her face to face.

“Things are obviously a bit different currently, but the online learning is working well. All students are working from the online content regardless of if they are at school or not as this ensures equity in the learning,” Savannah said.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into the classroom and making it my own and having that interaction with the students. I’ve started to build some relationships with some of them already but that face-to-face teaching will be fabulous.”

Prior to studying education, Savannah worked in administrative roles for large corporations in her home state of Western Australia.

“I became disheartened with that line of work and went on to work at an all-girls’ school in Perth after completing an Education Assistance Certificate,” she said.

“The teaching staff at the school kept telling me I should do an education degree and it was the best advice I’d ever been given. I completed my first year at Edith Cowan University and received an achievement award for my grades, so I knew I’d chosen the right path.”

A move with her husband to the Sunshine Coast saw Savannah transfer her studies to USC, where she continued to excel.

Savannah, who admits she was not very academically inclined as a school student, shone in her Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) at USC and achieved a grade point average of 6.48 out of a possible 7.

She was awarded a prestigious Chancellor’s Medal – the highest award at USC for a graduating student – for her high academic achievement and for her extensive contribution to the University and the broader community.

While completing her degree, Savannah supported the USC Student Representative Council and other student groups through her administrative role as a ‘Student at Work’ with the University’s Careers and Employability team.

She was a presenter at a 2019 USC Explore event and helped promote the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) degree during various other marketing opportunities.

Savannah also assisted Education academics Dr Ali Black and Dr Gail Crimmins in a research project at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve at Maleny that focused on how young children connect with nature.

“I really enjoyed being involved with that process because it gave me an insight into what research is about in a university setting,” she said. “It was so different to completing regular course work, and has inspired me to do some further study at some point because I just love learning.”

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