Taking on the outback and loving it

Isolation takes on a special meaning at Koorabye.

Located deep in the outback of Western Australia—400 kilometres to the east of Broome—it is one of the most isolated communities in the world.

And it is the place that captured the heart of Notre Dame graduate Taryn Russell where, as one of only two teachers in the community’s school of just 11 students, she has earned her own special place in the record books.

Taryn fell in love with the concept of teaching in the outback during a field trip as a second year student. Along with other students and lecturers, on a visit to the remote town of Tjuntjuntjara—500 kilometres east of Kalgoorlie—she developed a fascination for the ‘great beyond’.

“That experience made me ask why I ‘want’ to teach, not just the ‘what’ and the ‘how’,” says Taryn.

“Notre Dame helped me to really think deeply about the practices and perspectives of teaching as a profession and as a result I was able to make clear decisions about how I wanted my career to unfold.”

With “a mix of trepidation and excitement” Taryn arrived at Ngalapita Remote Community School to meet her students— ranging from Pre-primary to Year 7—and the community’s 50 residents.

“I ended up loving every minute. Despite our remote location, the internet has brought the world to our doorstep. The students all have access to iPads, laptops and interactive whiteboards and they have a thirst for learning that is really refreshing,” says Taryn.

“As a teacher, building and maintaining relationships is really the key to the success of the learning experience. Knowing that you have gained the complete trust of young minds is the ultimate reward for any teacher.”

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In the Federal Goverment's Quality indicators for Learning and Teaching 2018 -  compared.edu.au