Empowering cadets to bring faith into the classroom

By Josh Low

The St Thomas Aquinas Teaching Schools Institute’s Teacher Cadet Program is going from strength to strength in 2024, with some 50 cadets recently meeting with Archbishop Julian Porteous last month.

Most of the cohort gathered in Hobart in preparation for the year ahead, with others joining via video conference from Queenstown, Ulverstone and Launceston.

Archbishop Julian expressed his pleasure at meeting members of the program, adding that the work occurring in the program is one of the most exciting aspects of the development of Catholic education in Tasmania.

“The key focus of course in education is a child’s academic formation, but Catholic education is also concerned with and devoted to the formation of the whole person and nurturing of the soul.

Archbishop Julian encouraged the 50 or so cadets to embrace this wonderful opportunity over the year ahead. Photo: Josh Low

“It is a wonderful and exciting model which the St Thomas Aquinas Teaching Schools Institute offers – personal faith formation and practical experience on the ground in schools, training specifically for work in Catholic education.”

Archbishop Julian said nurturing the spiritual life of the students was very important.

“It is what we bring as a distinctive quality to our work in Catholic schools; an animation of their soul, an animation of the spiritual dimension to their life,” he said.

“Now that will come through helping them grow in faith, help them come to know Christ, helping them to know the scriptures, the vision of life that Christ revealed to us.

“I’m convinced that the approach we’re taking here in Tasmania is cutting edge – of a renewal of education, and really encourage the 50 or so cadets to embrace this wonderful opportunity over the year ahead.

Archbishop Julian was pleased to meet and speak to students of the cohort, and emphasized the need of nurturing the spiritual life of students in the classroom. Photo: Josh Low

“I look forward to the fact that what will emerge from these schools and from yourselves will make an enormous contribution to the advancement of education in our Catholic schools and ultimately benefit the whole of our society here in Tasmania,” he concluded.

Now in their final year of study, Josi Mamic and Simon-Pieter Doodeman are two cadets nearing the end of their involvement in the program.

For Ms Mamic, the opportunity to take part in the Teacher Cadet Program has enhanced her university experience.

She added that growing in knowledge of the faith and then living it through her work with students can hopefully inspire students to explore their own faith and follow the Gospel.

“The best thing about this program is that we can discuss the challenges we’ve had at school, be able to reflect on and have a debrief about our day, as well as get pointers and tips from the group on best practice in the classroom.

“It actually makes what we learn at university relevant, because the theories are just theories until you actually see them implemented in the classroom,” she said.

Simon-Pieter (left) and Josi (right) are both in their final year of study. Photo: Josh Low

Mr Doodeman believes that the Teacher Cadet Program is one of the best teaching models around.

“You are supported all the way through from both the Catholic Education Office, your school and everyone involved in the program – and everyone who wants to see a young teacher flourish,” he explained.

“From our experience on the ground we can see how experienced teachers are utilising their faith, while being able to show us their teaching skills as well.

“There is a lot of commitment you have to make towards the program, with a lot of us balancing full-time university studies at the same time.

“I could have just pursued a degree at university, but I feel there’s a lot more of a connection now between the faith and being able to teach properly in a Catholic school.

“I want to be able to connect my faith to my work, instead of having them as two separate facets.

“It’s a whole better framework to approach your work, which is centred in Christ, and then brought forth in the classroom,” he said.

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