Community Papers

An Australian teacher in Prince Rupert

Maureen Murray with her Grade 1 students.  - Martina Perry photo
Maureen Murray with her Grade 1 students.
— image credit: Martina Perry photo

Australian exchange teacher Maureen Murray  said if she had to use one word to describe Prince Rupert it would be friendly.

Murray is from Wodonga in Victoria, the southern Australian state, and has been teaching in Australia for six years. This year she is trading places with a teacher at Annunciation School.

Murray came to Prince Rupert through the Victorian International Teaching Fellowship, a program where educators switch teaching positions and housing for a one year period. The aim of the program is to bring new ideas into both systems.

"I'll see what differences there are from Australia and what good ideas I might take home with me," she said.

Murray began her time in Prince Rupert just before the new year, switching positions and homes with Annunciation Grade 1 teacher Beth Armstrong-Bewick. When she applied for the program, she said her first choice of country was Canada.

"I've always wanted to come to Canada. It's one of the places that's really hard to get to when you're in Australia," she said, adding when it's summer holidays in Australia, it's winter in Canada.

"The lifestyle interested me, but more importantly was the wildlife and environment. It's completely different from the southern regions in Australia," she said.

"The mountains and scenery [were intriguing for me]. I love anything natural. That's a big draw card for me."

The Aussie says she's enjoyed her time in Prince Rupert so far.

"Friendly is the word that comes to mind when I think of Prince Rupert. I've been absolutely welcomed with open arms by everybody. The school, the children in the school, and the community. I can't go anywhere without smiling faces," she said.

Murray says the weather is the biggest change, followed by the different landscape full of hills and mountains.

Another change for Murray while teaching at Annunciation has been the inclusion of faith in the classroom. Murray said she's a Catholic, she works at a public school overseas.

The school Murray taught at in Australia had approximately 700 students, but her Prince Rupert class has more students than she's use to. She calls her Annunciation students organized, interested and says they are amazing singers.

"The kids I'm teaching are very advanced. They're really well behaved and excited about everything," she said.

Murray says she's loved teaching the students bits and pieces about her home country.

"They've really jumped in on it. They think it's great fun. They've enjoyed learning about the country and the animals," she said.

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