2021 saw Heather Crothers start a teaching position at Woree State High School and in three short years has made a significant impact on their school community through their advocacy work.
After originally completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an interdisciplinary print media major, the 2023 Excellence in Beginning to Teach recipient’s passion for better representation of LGBTQIA+ young people and young people with diverse learning needs or disabilities in media led them to the teaching profession.
“The best part about being a teacher is sharing in the lives of these students, being able to celebrate their successes and support them through their lows. I want to support queer and disabled students to achieve their best and feel safe at school,” they said.
In 2022 WSHS student leaders invited Heather to join a small team tasked
with replacing the original 1986 school house names, originally names of
sugar cane grown nearby.
In collaboration with Gimuy Walubara Yidinji Elders of the local area and
extensive community consultation, the houses were replaced with important
animals to the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people: Wari Wari – the stingless
native bee, Ngawuyu - the sea turtle, Dumbul - the blue tongue lizard, and
Jinggaa – the small red hawk.
Heather then worked as illustrator with students and Elders to produce the four emblems which have since become part of the school’s community identity.
In 2023, WSHS was approached by local playwright and author Dennis McIntosh, along with Innisfail director Garth Edwards, interested in making a documentary about a literacy program at the school. Heather volunteered to research and develop a cultural safety protocol and through consultation with Screen Australia, as well as local stakeholders, delivered a careful and empowering protocol that has become an important part of the program itself.
Heather’s expertise saw them invited to the 2022 PAX video game conference in Melbourne, where they hosted and facilitated the Art and Science of Teaching and Video Games panel, leading the discussion of the use of video games to engage, connect, and empower young people with three other education and game media experts. Heather was also a panellist on the “Queer Coded; A History of LGBT+ Gaming” panel at PAX Australia in 2018.
“A good day in the classroom is one where I get to relate student interests like video games and anime back to the curriculum and skills that we learn in class.”