HARRISDALE Senior High School has been open two weeks yet one of its teachers has already attracted attention.
English teacher Christie Simpson was the only Australian picked for the TED-ED innovative educator, a year long professional development program.
TED ED is an education platform where teachers share ideas and support other students and teachers across the world in finding new and creative ways to engage young minds and shape the future of education.
Coming to teaching after a 13 year career in banking, Mrs Simpson said life experience had definitely benefitted her in teaching.
“As a parent of high school aged kids I’m not scared of teenagers,” she said.
“They’re just younger people with lots of hormones.”
While studying a commerce degree her husband noticed she kept choosing literature subjects for electives.
“He said why don’t you study a degree that interests you?”
She completed an accelerated Bachelor of Education at Murdoch over two-and-a-half years.
Discovering TED ED as a teacher, she found its resources, including animations explaining teaching concepts and problem solving, really helpful.
“I followed them on Facebook so when they announced they were looking for applications for the third cohort of innovative educators, I applied.”
The application process was long and tough, including an essay as to why candidates loved teaching, a video conference call and an interview where they had to pitch their innovation project.
Mrs Simpson designed a living documentary, where students filmed, photographed, blogged and wrote about their experiences and interactions with the local community.
Mrs Simpson was asked if she would be free to visit New York in December last year.
“I was like…um, yeah.”
The applicants had two minutes to present their idea on stage in front of top teachers and education experts.
Harrisdale High School has one year seven class which will expand to a full, year 7 to 12 high school year on year.
“I haven’t asked kids to register for the program yet but I want them to become responsible for the detail,” Mrs Simpson said.
She plans to get the school involved in the community by setting up rotary clubs, bush cadets and a soup kitchen like program.
These extra-curricular activities would form part of the documentary and show how to engage children outside of school hours.
Mrs Simpson checks in onece a month to TED ED, with the project planned to be student run by August.
“Hopefully we can roll it out perpetually across the years so each year gets their own experience.”
She said the students were loving their new school.
“They’re ridiculously happy, rather than being in an established school they’re the oldest and youngest here so instead of disappearing in the daily grind they’ve all got the space to shine.”