Wendesday 15 May 2024

Emily Graham

From TA to registered teacher

Emily Graham's dedication to Indigenous language education began as a teacher aide in a rural Queensland community.

In her second year of studying education, Emily became a TA at Eidsvold P-12 State School.

Formerly a Sunshine Coast local, her time at Eidsvold left a positive mark on her teaching journey and sparked a passion for teaching Indigenous languages.

"I learnt so many invaluable skills in my time in Eidsvold. I was lucky to watch multiple teachers and their teaching styles from Prep to Year 12."

"It was in this time that I drew on and noted the values I wanted to have in my future classroom and the type of teacher I wanted to become," she said.

Becoming involved with Eidsvold’s Wakka Wakka Indigenous language revival program showed her the power of teachers bringing reconciliation to their classrooms.

"I worked alongside an amazing community and Principal who opened my eyes to what reconciliation means. I was so blessed to be involved with and watch as the language of the region was revitalised by utilising linguists, local Elders, and community members."

A visit to a career fair in her final year of study offered Emily an opportunity to complete her final placement at Tagai College on Darney Island in the outer Torres Strait.

Emily could not have predicted where this decision would lead her.

"After this placement I was offered a Permission to Teach at Boigu Island. I was taken by the beauty of the Torres Strait, the amazing community, and students who are so eager to learn."

Preservice teachers who are granted Permission to Teach (PTT) are generally in the final stages of their education program and are continuing their studies while they are teaching under PTT.

Now a registered teacher, Emily had the chance to experience several islands of the Torres Strait before arriving on Thursday Island where she currently teaches.

Emily’s teaching journey was recognised last year when she was shortlisted for the TEACHX Awards’ Excellence in Beginning to Teach category. Her colleagues commended her dedication to literacy in an EAL/D context, her commitment to the profession, and improving culturally informed practice, even before having a classroom of her own.

Emily continues her work to promote Indigenous languages. She has collaborated with Torres Strait business Athe Threads to distribute a series of flashcards teaching traditional language words to schools in the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast regions.

Her work with this small business also saw over 50 pencil cases and school resources donated to the local students at her island.

Emily is currently studying for her Masters; researching ways to teach English and literacy skills to First Nations people. She hopes to continue into a PhD field of research.

"I know as a teacher, I am a forever learner, and I am so grateful for every island and every new challenge that has enabled me to become a more resilient and capable educator."


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