Sam Davies almost became a teacher on a few occasions. But after Year 12, a job in the film industry led him on a different path.
He worked on documentaries and dramas, and filmed cycling races on the back of a motorcycle. When further study beckoned, Davies enrolled in a Bachelor of International Relations, then worked for a crisis response organisation where he clocked up 250,000 kilometres a year travelling the world.
When Davies contemplated a career change, a lifestyle where there was a “strong connection to community” loomed large. “It got me thinking,” he said, “that there’s nothing more central to a community than a school.”
He started to investigate study options in teaching and discovered La Trobe’s Nexus program.
A first-of-its-kind employment-based pathway into Secondary teaching, Nexus prepares, mentors and graduates selected teaching candidates for economically, culturally diverse and high needs schools in Melbourne, regional and rural Victoria. Nexus students are matched with state Secondary schools as they complete a Master of Teaching qualification.
Davies was accepted into the program and placed at Wodonga Middle Years College. He says the experience gave him everything he required to become the best teacher he can be.
“The level of support was incredible,” he says. “The academic staff at La Trobe called me weekly throughout my degree, providing advice, upskilling and professional opportunities, and access to an exceptional peer network.”
Schools regard the program as a win-win; they provide the learning environment and are supplied with a pipeline of dedicated future teachers.
Executive Principal of Wodonga College, Mr Vern Hilditch, says the Nexus program is “the best form of teacher education” he has seen. The College was one of the first to join the program and is now hosting its second cohort of Nexus students.
“From day one, Nexus students are part of our teaching staff,” Hilditch says. “They are recognised as such in the classroom, and get a strong understanding of the challenges facing the school and the social dynamics that impact learning.”
“Teachers like Sam Davies have made a real contribution to student learning and become an integral part of our school community.”
While he concedes that COVID-related lockdowns were a challenge, Sam Davies has completed his degree and is eager to remain teaching at Wodonga Middle Years College for years to come. He is now working toward registration.
“I don’t think there is a better way to become a teacher,” says Davies. “The combination of work and study is great, and incremental progression in the classroom allows students to grow with their teaching responsibilities. It’s an apprenticeship-style model that works.”
“Schools need a range of teachers so that students can find someone they can relate to,” he adds. “Nexus delivers diversity and social justice in its future teaching cohorts.”