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Finalist — Carly Bell



More students are going to university and beginning teachers are choosing to stay in Clermont thanks to teacher, and local women’s rugby league champion, Carly Bell.

As Head of Department – Senior Schooling at Clermont State High School (CSHS), Ms Bell has helped increase the proportion of the school’s students enrolling at university from 4 per cent in 2015 to 31 per cent in 2018.

She paved the way to keep CSHS at the forefront of the new Senior Assessment and Tertiary Entrance system, ensuring Year 11 students trialled external assessments and that staff were upskilled.

Ms Bell is also responsible for increasing the retention of beginning teachers, who are staying beyond the normal three-year cycle, by 60 per cent, and for the choice by final-year student teachers who undertake their practical experience at the school to stay in the community and teach there.

Ms Bell’s success has led to her being named a finalist in the Outstanding Contribution to School Community category of the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Awards.

Ms Bell, who is the first female rugby league player from Clermont to play for Queensland and was pivotal in establishing the women’s team in the town of about 3,000 people, believes the only way to truly live is to participate. She takes an active role in making Clermont a welcoming and positive place for beginning teachers, including setting up welcome dinners for new and visiting staff, picking up teachers from the Emerald airport when they arrive and helping them to set-up.

“Any of those types of little things can make a big difference. Quite often, it’s about connecting people and giving them opportunities where they can make a difference,” Ms Bell said.

Small actions are also part of building student confidence; for them attending university means leaving town and going into the unknown. So, Ms Bell has them attend leadership conferences at James Cook University to become familiar with the campus and make connections with people in Townsville.

Ms Bell’s leadership extends beyond the school. Under the previous senior system, she was a Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority District Panel Chair for Senior Physical Education. Under the new system she has been appointed as a Lead Endorser in Physical Education. She is also a vital member of Physical Education clusters and the Central Highlands school leader networks and was nominated to participate in the Queensland Government’s Lead4QLD pre-pilot leadership program.

She remembers making the move from Brisbane 16 years ago to work regionally and loving it.

“Out in the rural communities you strip away all the materialistic things and it comes down to relationships and opportunities. Those things that you can do in the metropolitan areas, you don’t have those same events here, instead what you really have is each other. So, you start to form really good relationships with people whether that’s at school or in the community and all of a sudden, a barbeque is the best event ever,” Ms Bell said. “Stripping away all those things means people start to get involved in the community a bit more. While you may be isolated regionally, you’re not isolated as a person.”

She encourages students to get active and involved in their local community and has driven the school bus to Emerald and Townsville to ensure students can participate in activities and events. She is enormously proud of her school, the students and staff, and the community as a whole.

“We’re always wanting to get better and we’re always getting better. Come out to our school and you’ll know it as soon as you walk through the gate, you’ll feel it, and that’s quite often what visitors will say, that they can feel our culture when they walk in. Just that positivity, and that’s something I’m proud of,” she said.

The winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on 29 October, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day in Australia.

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