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Above and Beyond

Completing a master’s degree is no easy task at any time but juggling a full time teaching job and family commitments on top of study makes it an extra commendable achievement for two of our teachers.

Senior School teacher of Agribusiness and Agricultural Science, Mrs Julie Brophy, has recently completed a Master of Science in Agriculture and will graduate from the University of New England (Armidale). Julie studied a range of high-level subjects that will benefit our boys’ learning as they progress through their agricultural studies.

Coordinator of Prep to Year 3 and Year 1 teacher, Mrs Jessica Galbraith, graduated last year with a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) from the Queensland University of Technology. Jessica is a member of the Junior School leadership team, and her studies will further improve the operations of the Junior School.

Although thrilled with her achievement, Jess hesitates when asked if she would do it again.

“Not at the moment,” she laughs.

“I was at a different stage with my family when I started studying; my life is much too busy now.”

Over the past three years, Jess would spend almost every Sunday studying. There were times when she felt like she was missing out on family life and thought, “I’ll just stop,” but a supportive husband, work environment and mentors kept her motivated. Finding time for the course was the biggest challenge, teaching all day, prepping for the next day and then accommodating her home life and two children. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit last year, the changes associated with online teaching added extra pressure.

“I felt like I was just staring at a screen all day every day,” said Jess. She persisted because she wanted to give herself the best opportunity to apply for higher positions when ready to take that step.

“There are so many degrees available these days; you need to be the best you can be if you want to get ahead,” said Jess.

The main focus areas of her degree included strategic management, policy writing and the effectiveness of different leadership styles. Electives included the Early Years Curriculum and emotional, social and behavioural needs of children.

Jess says it has already helped her understand why certain decisions are made within TGS and how they can be improved through strategic planning. She plans to refine her skills and try to implement them wherever possible.

“I was doing my assignments with TGS in mind which made it more real,” stated Jess.

“It made me feel like I was doing this for a purpose and in some way will be able to help the School in return for the support they gave me. It made my courses relevant and worthwhile.”

Jess said there were also many important lessons for her children, which was a good experience for them. They went through the highs and lows with her. She was able to show them firsthand the strong work ethic required for study and the hours you must commit. They also discovered independence and resilience and that they could manage without her. But most importantly, Jess said they learnt that parents are not perfect and cannot do everything. That parents have challenges too, but if you work hard, you will be rewarded.

“They’ve seen me do draft after draft after draft of assignments,” said Jess

“They also saw an epic fail when I submitted the wrong assignment, received a poor mark and then the process involved with proving my error and eventually being allowed to resubmit my assignment and getting a better result.”

She said the children resented the study at times but overall were incredibly supportive and excited to be part of her graduation day with the mortarboard, tassel flip and certificate.

Jess said she would encourage anyone who is considering further study but would advise them of the trade-offs. It is a huge commitment, very time consuming and can be challenging to juggle with day to day life whilst trying to produce your best work.

“I had high expectations of myself, and I had to be fully committed to it,” Jess said.

“Now I have my life back; I’m enjoying that I’m back to being a chef, a taxi, a sporting spectator, a teacher and a mum.”