Developing the whole child

Jack O’Toole was thrilled when he was appointed to St Aloysius Primary School in Chisholm.

“Being a foundation teacher at a brand new school in only my second year out of university was a very exciting experience for me. It has been a unique opportunity to help create a school from the ground up,” said Jack.

Asked what is unique about being a teacher in a Catholic school, Jack points to faith development, social justice and service to others.

“We instil gospel values and place Christ at the centre of all that we do. I strive to create an environment based around respect. Students have the opportunity to develop their faith in a supportive environment.

“Catholic schools are about developing the whole child by integrating gospel values into the educational experience. I feel a real responsibility to help students recognise their potential to effect positive change within the community,” said Jack. While Jack is relatively new to teaching he brings “lots of ideas” and real “passion” to his work.

“I have always been passionate about learning and the way in which education can empower people and influence change. As a teacher I am enthusiastic about encouraging my students to find creative and innovative solutions to problems. The best part of my day is when a student is proud and excited about their learning,” said Jack.

St Aloysius has been formed around contemporary learning methods which focus on collaboration, with students encouraged to be visual learners. The open plan classrooms, glass walls and unique learning spaces of St Aloysius encourage these teaching practices, which are based on research and evidence.

“Students are encouraged to take risks with their learning and to challenge themselves to reach high expectations. The staff empower their students to become reflective learners through individualised, student-centred learning,” explains Jack.

While Jack concedes that teaching can be challenging, he knows that it is also deeply rewarding. 

“Great teachers are lifelong learners and they produce lifelong learners,” said Jack.

Article originally published in the the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Year in Review 2015

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Joanne Isaac

Joanne is a Communications Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and a regular columnist for Aurora Magazine.