A powerful sporting program, which connects high school students with Olympic athletes, state of the art sporting facilities and dozens of community organisations and activities including dragon boat racing and wheelchair basketball clubs, is driving up student outcomes and school pride. Maroochydore State High School (MSHS) HPE teacher Tamika Megawatt has won this year’s Queensland College of Teachers Outstanding Contribution to School Community TEACHX Award for her extraordinary work at MSHS, including creating, developing and managing the Sports Development Program (SDP).
Under the program Years 7 and 8 students work with around 25 community organisations and the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) to participate in different sports, including rock climbing, the Special Olympics, football, AFL, badminton and gym fitness. They also study nutrition, biomechanics and equity in sport.
Students must submit a written application, undergo a physical trial and participate in an interview with their parents to join the SDP, which has three lessons a week, including one that is held off-campus. They also have to maintain excellent or very good behaviour and effort across every subject to stay in the program.
“This year we had almost 70 applicants for 26 positions,” Mrs Megawatt said. “I think our students recognise the privilege, they recognise the fun and excitement of the program, so we have zero truancy and a dramatic decrease in behavioural incidences for students who are enrolled. We’ve seen increases in grades in core subjects, as well as NAPLAN, across the board for the majority of students in the program. The SDP has also received 100 percent parent, student and community stakeholder satisfaction since its implementation. The pride students feel in their own school is also reflected in how students represent themselves within the wider community,” she said.
The program also links students to the USC’s High Performance Student Athlete program, a flexible program for aspiring athletes. “Representatives from USC come and visit us once a term with either an Olympic athlete, or an aspiring Olympic athlete, or we have the privilege to use their multimillion-dollar biomechanics lab and other facilities,” Mrs Megawatt said.
“I’m so passionate about the field of education and bettering our system, delivering engaging curriculum and involving the community because I honestly believe they’re the most powerful way of connecting our students with real-life opportunities,” she said.
Mrs Megawatt is also Chairperson of the Local Chaplaincy Committee, which recently had 150 students sleeping in cardboard boxes at school overnight to raise awareness of youth homelessness.
She said one of her proudest moments had been to set up the LGBTIQ+ support group Prism. “I initially spoke to two students that identified – one as gay and one as transgender – and we had sixteen students show up to the first meeting which was just a planning meeting, so our school community is certainly ready to embrace all students,” Mrs Megawatt said. “We’re in a unique position – my partner works at the same school – to normalise gay relationships and to be able to support our students through that, in awareness of the statistics of suicide and depression, especially with gay and transgender youth.”
The HPE and Science teacher has also recently completed a Master’s degree in Education in Leadership and Management and her roles at MSHS seem endless. She even attained her bus driver’s licence to take SDP students to their offsite activities.
“I am incredibly lucky to be involved in curriculum development, I’ve helped out with the ICT consultation group, I’m in the Positive Behaviour Learning team, I’m the Professional Learning Community Coach for the HPE Department, I’m a profiler and I have preservice teachers (teacher education students) coming out of my ears! I love it,” Mrs Megawatt said.
Mrs Megawatt was announced as a TEACHX Award winner at a ceremony at Customs House, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day in Australia. Mrs Megawatt has also won $5000 for professional development.