Closing the education gap

ANU alumni and high school educators WILL LUTWYCHE, BA '12, and AMELIA GREEN, LLB '14, B Asia-Pacific Studies '14, discover teaching doesn't always mean referring to text books.

The remote town of Tennant Creek lies five hours north of Alice Springs and 11 hours south of Darwin. It truly is the red centre of Australia.

There is something about the Tennant Creek community that pulls you in. It's a combination of the welcoming nature of the locals, our colleagues, the town's love of AFL and the energy and resilience of its young people.

A total of 85 per cent of the local high school's students are Indigenous Australians and come from within a huge 500-kilometre radius of the school. The cultural and linguistic diversity is phenomenal and the opportunity for learning is limitless.

We're fresh out of ANU and working at the high school as part of the Teach for Australia program. Canberra seems a long way away.

We came to remote Australia because we believe educational disadvantage is an urgent issue and we wanted to do something about this at a grassroots level.

Being a high school educator is challenging.

There is nothing that compares to the adrenaline you experience as a teacher standing in front of a classroom of 20 students on a 40 degree day. It requires immense resilience, persistence and grit.

By embracing the chance to learn, adjusting to context and understanding your students, you recognise the impact that teaching has on the life trajectories of young Australians.

In this town, the significance of Indigenous Australians and their cultures cannot be overstated.

Having the opportunity to learn from and reconcile with the traditional owners of the land, the Warumungu people, and other Indigenous groups in the Barkly region has been invaluable.

As high school educators, we are passionate about working with Indigenous students, staff and families. One in two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults did not finish high school and we want to contribute to closing this gap.