MAREE Timms inspires students every day and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The Galen Catholic College maths and science teacher has been teaching for more than 30 years in schools across the world including Melbourne, Turkey, Darwin, Northern Territory and Wangaratta.
“In kindergarten I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, in primary school a primary school teacher and in high school a high school teacher, but I didn’t want to do a solid teaching course,” she said.
“I had always had an interest in maths and science so I went to university and did a Bachelor of Science and majored in maths, astrophysics and meteorology.
“I then did a Diploma of Education after my bachelors because I’d always had this dream of being a teacher but I also had a fear that it wouldn’t be what I wanted to do, which is why I had the science degree as back up.
“I had a teaching round at Westall High in Clayton and once I did that I knew I was on the right path; the school was 80 per cent refugees and they were so respectful and grateful to be in our country getting an education that discipline wasn’t an issue so for those first three years I was able to focus on actually teaching.
“After that I did the backpacking thing for two and a half years in Europe working in an outdoor education centre and teaching in a Turkish school which was a real experience.
“I came back to winter in Melbourne and decided to move to Darwin to work in a place called Humpty Doo.
“After that I lived in the remote Indigenous community, Koombooloomba, for 10 years and I learnt more than I could ever teach; it was amazing.
“After 14 years away, I thought I’d take a year off and come back home to catch up with family and friends and I ended up staying and I’ve been teaching here for 12 years now.”
Ms Timms has been heavily involved with the Galen VEX Robotics program, which has played a part in her being awarded the Sandhurst Education Office Educare Award.
The award acknowledges long and consistent commitment to high levels of teaching practice in Catholic education through outstanding contribution to classroom teaching and curriculum innovation.
“The Galen Parents Association nominated me and I had no idea,” Ms Timms said.
“At the award ceremony they told me I was the first nominee to have been nominated by parents, which makes it extra special because the parents are the ones who see the impact I have on their kids.
“As a science teacher there’s all this talk about STEM skills, but what are these skills?
“I saw a twitter post on this vex robotics and a video of a student interview and all the student spoke about was the teamwork, collaboration, design thinking, problem solving and resilience; he didn’t mention the robot he’d built.
“The more I thought about it I thought…that’s STEM; the robot is the tool but all these other skills are STEM.
“In the beginning we had five kids and one kit, now we’ve got five teams, 30 kids and it’s in year nine now as an elective but next year it will start in year seven as a mainstream curriculum subject.
“It’s just grown and to have Galen going to world champs, not once but twice, is amazing.
“For a teacher who doesn’t know robotics or programming or coding, the kids have taught themselves, they’ve had the success themselves, they’ve done this.
“It’s pretty humbling and is a real honour to get something like this and knowing it’s come from the parents makes it super special.”