It’s tempting to think that the arty, prosy, drama type who can shrewdly wax lyrical about anthropology, social theory and philosophy might not make the best school teacher. But add to the mix an absolute conviction to confront educational disadvantage in Australia, and fierce intellect, and actually, you have a lean, mean teaching machine.
Brigid Evans (2008) was selected to be a Teach for Australia Ambassador and Associate and as a result, is currently teaching History and English at Alamanda College in Point Cook in Melbourne’s South West.
The Teach for Australia program involves a rigorous selection process to place high achieving graduates from non-teaching backgrounds into disadvantaged schools. Selected candidates go through an intensive two year Master of Teaching degree, commencing with a six week in-residence program.
Having graduated with First Class Honours in Philosophy and receiving the Laurie Prize for Academic Excellence at Melbourne University, Brigid was well placed to be selected for the Teach for Australia program.
“I planned on going into law or politics when I left school but found out through experience that neither of these fields were for me.
“Having launched an action group in Bendigo protesting changes to Youth Allowance eligibility, we wrote to politicians and local papers, staged protests, appeared on local and national news and were invited to speak at State and National Parliament.
“It was a fantastic learning experience and we were successful in having the changes rolled back but the taste for high profile media attention, good and bad, changed my thoughts on career course.
“My experiences with the Youth Allowance protests showed me the huge levels of disadvantage that some students face, especially in regional and rural Australia.
“When I discovered the Teach for Australia program the choice of going into teaching to combat the social, economic and educational disadvantages that exist in our country seemed natural,” she said.
Brigid has also been a Training Leader for the Taskforce for Youth Parliament, overseeing 120 students writing pieces of proposed legislation about issues they are passionate about and guiding them on how to debate the legislation through Victorian Parliament.
“This program showed me that my passion lay in educating young people, and put me on a path towards teaching,” she said.
Brigid cites Mrs Carol Knowles as her favourite Girton teacher and still has her teacher’s artwork proudly displayed in her house.
“Carol Knowles is the type of teacher I hope to be.
“I so fondly remember her passion for art and enthusiasm for her students work.
“She always had time for each of her students and had high expectations for us, and pushed us to meet them.
“Her year 12 studio became a sanctuary during the stresses of VCE, filled with calm, creativity and Cat Power.
“I admired how much she lived what she taught, practicing and appreciating art and creativity inside and outside of school.
“I loved her artworks and the way they captured her quirkiness and strength, so much that I requested an artwork for my 18th and 21st birthdays,” she said.
In a gap year immediately after finishing school Brigid travelled through Africa and the Middle East and more recently to Germany and the Netherlands.
She has been nominated for the Bendigo Youth Citizen of the Year and been selected to attend ANU Philosophy Masters Conference, fully funded.
She still collects and creates art and spends most weekends visiting art galleries, which she will, no doubt, somehow manage to turn into an excursion for some lucky students.
Photo: Travelling through Berlin last year with partner Nathan Carter