“This place will truly make you a great teacher and person. It’s an opportunity like no other.”
Primary School Teacher
Now in her fourth year teaching at Kulkarriya Community School, Wiki has found she is most at home living and working remotely. Before joining KCS, she had been teaching in remote communities for 8 years. In fact, her last previous teaching role was just 50km away across the Fitzroy River.
“I’ve now been working in remote locations for a number of years in Australia and New Zealand, which is where I’m originally from. In New Zealand, I was on an isolated island for 7 months with only 5 other people. It took 3 days to get there by boat, so I guess you could say I am very used to working in these sorts of locations.”
It was the desire for a new challenge and a change of scenery that prompted Wiki to cross the Tasman. Originally planning on only living in the community for a year to gain a different experience, the weather, kids and lifestyle won her over.
“I really did think I’d only stay for a year but the Kimberley weather is beautiful, just like the kids I get to work with everyday. I love the lifestyle here. It’s slower paced which is perfect for me as I don’t like living in a busy place. The remoteness wasn’t a shock for me as I had experienced this in the past. But as you fly in and the plane lands, you do gain a true appreciation of how remote we are here.”
As a primary school teacher, Wiki works across a mixture of grades 2, 3 and 4 with approximately 12 students in her class. Every day when she comes to work, Wiki looks forward to the job she loves and what she can offer her kids that day.
“I love being a teacher. I never thought I’d end up in teaching, but all my sisters teach so it does run in the family! I love what I can give these children and what I can expose them to. I enjoy bringing them structure and routine to make their learning easier. As a teacher, I always focus on what I can give them and how I can help them succeed, no matter how big or small that success may be.”
In the time since she joined KCS in 2014, Wiki has experienced so much reward through watching students grow. It is what she describes as the best part of her job, and what she enjoys most as a teacher. With immense reward also comes challenge, and Wiki is never one to shy away from difficult situations – something that makes her, like all KCS teachers, an asset to the community.
“You get challenges all the time, but it’s important not to view these as negative challenges. For many, a big challenge would be the isolation. But being isolated makes me want to fight more for the children out here and for their education. Another challenge can be attendance. While I have 12 in my class, some days I may only have 8 show. When the children are in the classroom, whether that be every day or not, you are the most important person in their life for those hours. Education is so important and it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re getting the best education available so they’re able to blossom and have a bright future.”
Within the KCS team, motivation is never hard to come by. For Wiki, she believes it’s a work environment that allows for staff to easily be motivated and very focused, where everyone is always driven by the students and the success of the school.
“It really is easy to be motivated here. That comes from the improvements in each and every child, meeting our school goals and knowing you’re getting your students somewhere, even if it’s a little leap at a time.”
Wiki believes that a child’s early education years are vital in preparing them for their future learning. Preparing children for independence when they leave school is always in the front of her mind, and it’s KCS’s many success stories that excite her for each student’s future.
“I think that success for us is preparing children for the outside world and showing them the endless options that are available to them. Giving them the best start in life and education is key to that.”
For anyone considering taking up the challenge and reward that comes with teaching in a remote community, Wiki shares that people need to want to do it for the children. You also need resilience and the ability to adapt to challenges, as well as a strong work ethic and endless passion for teaching.
“If you have these things, especially the passion and resilience, this place will truly make you a great teacher and person. It’s an opportunity like no other.” Wiki believes so strongly in the joy that comes from teaching remotely that she even encouraged her own family member to make the move from New Zealand to Western Australia to take up the challenge.
“I got my niece over from New Zealand and she did some relief teaching in the area. She loved it so much she chose to stay in WA and now teaches full-time in remote communities. If you’re truly passionate you should ‘teach remote’. The children here need passionate teachers.”
Looking ahead, Wiki is excited to continue working in a role she loves and to dedicate her skills to the children in the community who need her most.
“My time at KCS is definitely not nearing its end! As much as I know my family would like me home, they love seeing me so happy out here and they know I really love my job. Continuity is so important in education, so I want to be here for the kids.”