CoRE Coordinator/Earth and Environmental Science Educator
Suzy graduated with honours from ANU in 1988 and started work as a geologist in the Great Sandy Desert, WA at the Telfer Gold Mine. She transitioned into the classroom, teaching science and promoting geoscience literacy, in 2004. Suzy maintains her industry networks and her role as Chair of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, WA Branch, helps promote this association.
In 2016, Suzy won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. She was featured on SBS program “A Teacher Changed My Life” in 2017 and in 2018, was among 14 women inducted in to the WA Women’s Hall of Fame. Most recently, she was featured on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes to discuss NAPLAN and the importance of having fun in the classroom.
She has received national and international recognition for the CoRE (Centre of Resources Excellence) model she developed at Kent Street Senior High School.
Hi Suzy! Tell us a bit about yourself.
“My name is Suzy and I love rocks and climbing volcanoes in my spare time! I did not want to be a teacher, but a personal situation of forced change meant that I had no other choice than to enter into education to support my three sons and myself. Since moving into the classroom, I believe I have successfully married my two passions of geology and the Earth with education.
I have developed the CoRE (Center of Resources Excellence) learning model based on my own experiences as an industry trained geologist combined with the need to produce home grown talent to service our resources industry. I developed #therealclassroom based on CARMA (Contextual, Authentic, Relevant, Meaningful and Applicable) learning which is an extension of my industry experiences – I was STEMming long before the STEM acronym was adopted and infiltrated into the community. I brought industry into the classroom and took the students out into the real world to meet with industry personnel. For me, it was about the relevance, purpose and meaning of learning and how it applied to potential career pathways; more specifically, the resources industry.”
What’s your teaching-learning philosophy?
“My teaching-learning philosophy is founded on two principles; the first being derived from my observations and experiences as a 21 year old when I started my journey as a geologist. I stood in that costean at Telfer Gold Mine and looked at it and thought to myself, ‘Why did I go to school?’. I knew all the theory about South African and Siberian geology, but I didn’t know how to be a scientist, I didn’t know how to be a geologist.
When I embarked on my teaching career and went back into the classroom, I noted that nothing had changed! What I saw was not science! Science is doing, science is being creative, it is about thinking, problem solving, investigating and inquiring; it is not about text books, worksheets and arbitrary tests! Secondly, as an Eastern States migrant, I noted that in the resources industry, very few (a small %) of employees within the professional areas came from Western Australia. Why, in a resources hot spot of the world, were students not aware of resources career pathways and the opportunities that they presented? From these observations, the CoRE prototype evolved and 13 years later, it is on the cusp of being expanded across the state.”