RATEP graduate Jessica Addo dedicated to removing barriers for First Nations children
Jessica Addo is many things – a TAFE Queensland RATEP graduate, a proud educator, and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman.
“From my mother’s side, our family is connected with Yarrabah and I have family on my father’s side at Mornington Island, but my deepest contact with community is through my grandmother at Mapoon.”
As such, Ms Addoo knows the importance of removing barriers and creating positive learning environments for First Nations children.
RATEP gave her an opportunity to earn a Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education. The program provides a direct pathway for Indigenous people to become registered teachers, teacher aides or early childhood educators, and helps to bridge education disparities and ensure First Nations children thrive in nurturing environments.
“It has always been my passion to become a primary school teacher because I want to help make a difference in children’s lives,” she said.
First Nations educators, she continued, bring enormous value to the environments where they teach, through their deep-rooted community connections and cultural knowledge.
“These educators play a significant role in their communities because they have a deep understanding of the local context, languages, histories and cultures,” she said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children love seeing people from their own culture work in classrooms because they connect naturally – having a teacher who can speak their language makes a positive impact and creates close relationships.”
Enrolling at TAFE Queensland and participating in RATEP was one of the best decisions she ever made, Ms Addo said.
“Before enrolling, I was working a full-time job and did not have the capacity to study – but I was so determined to follow my goals that I resigned and found part-time employment so I could start my training,” she said.
“Sometimes you need to make sacrifices – it all comes down to how badly you want something and the belief that your hard work will pay off.
“I am happy I chose RATEP because I received full support, both professionally and personally, and through hard times in my personal life, my teacher coordinators were there for me.”
“During my studies, I went through Sorry Business unexpectedly and RATEP allowed me to take time off and I was able to continue studying when I was ready to return.”
She now feels confident to engage with children, and is thankful for the support she has received along the way. Ms Addo has gained credit through her diploma studies towards a Bachelor of Education at university and obtained a Pearl Duncan Teaching Scholarship.
“The scholarship provides me with financial assistance to complete my university studies, in addition to guaranteeing me an opportunity to gain a teaching position in a Queensland state school when I graduate,” she explained.
“I feel very honoured and grateful for this opportunity and I can’t wait to see where my degree will take me when I finish. In the future, I hope to relocate to work in a remote community, either in Weipa, the Torres Strait or the Northern Territory.”
Her dedication to her studies earned her a regional Queensland Training Award nomination in the Vocational Student of the Year category, with the winner to be announced on 7 July 2023.
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