EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP IN TEACHING AND LEARNING
Every Monday morning, every student at Marsden State High School – all 3200 of them – has a mentoring session with a teacher.
It’s part of an astonishing, in-depth and extensive focus that the Logan high school has on mentoring. It’s also one of the many reasons Deputy Principal Sean Curtis is a finalist for a prestigious state teaching award.
Mr Curtis, who played semi-professional soccer before first becoming a HPE teacher at Marsden State High School (MSHS), has helped increase students’ academic results and provided powerful opportunities for young sports stars across southeast Queensland.
Students at MSHS and in the Queensland Schools Premier League (SPL), which Mr Curtis chairs, receive coaching and player development from the Brisbane Roar FC as a result of a partnership the Deputy Principal helped clinch.
The inspirational educator is passionate about making a difference in Logan students’ lives, after growing up in the area and being inspired by his aunty, who taught at Woodridge State School.
“I just wanted to make something of myself, and I think every kid can do that, they just need support and good people around them … that’s why I was really passionate about the mentor program and academic coaching, and with the football as well,” Mr Curtis said.
Mr Curtis is a finalist for this year’s Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award.
Tasked a few years ago with increasing the percentage of graduates attaining a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE), Mr Curtis and a colleague put together a Professional Learning Committee, which met every fortnight for months. They came up with the @marsden.i.Coaching model, which involved every student being mentored by a teacher.
“We saw not just QCE attainment increase, but A to C results increase, attendance increase, and the big thing was the student ownership – senior students knew their Plan A and Plan B and were putting steps in place to ensure they were on the path to achieving success,” he said.
After a few years of all graduates attaining a QCE, Mr Curtis saw an opportunity to do more. He added in 21st century skills, teamed with universities to ensure students were hitting goals they were expected to at the end of each year level, and rolled it into a program called the Marsden Mako Mentors (MMM) program.
“Every single Monday morning the kids see their mentor and that mentor is the same person for three other lessons a week. So, every single kid is known and supported by a staff member for 280 minutes a week,” he said. “We had to change our timetable to support that.”
As a former Queensland National Premier League football player, Mr Curtis has also made a significant difference to sport at MSHS and across southeast Queensland.
The SPL has grown to over 1600 students under his chairmanship. He has also led the implementation of a Football Federation Australia (FFA) coaching course specific for teachers, and set up an all-star SPL student game against the Brisbane Roar and a team from the Queensland Academy of Sport, to highlight budding soccer stars.
“That’s our mission here at Marsden: it’s superior opportunities for our kids. We are doing that; we feel responsible for our community,” Mr Curtis said.
Winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on October 28, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day celebrations in Queensland. Finalists win $500, and winners $5000, for professional development.