Reflections with Foundation staff member, Nicola Britten
09 February 2023
In our 20th year, Foundation staff member, Nicola Britten, reflects on her time at the College.
Before starting at St Andrew’s, I was working as a Teacher Aide at Noosa District State High School in the Special Education Unit. I heard from one of my colleagues that she had enrolled her son at this new school called St Andrew’s Anglican College at Peregian Springs opening in 2003 and that I should try to get a job there. I put in my application and hoped for a permanent position. I was successful with the application and asked if I would like a permanent position of 19 hours a week and six months in, the hours were increased to 38 hours.
Back in 2003 there were two teacher aides - one in Prep and me for Years 1 to 7. This meant I was very busy helping all the classes. As well as in the classrooms, I organised stationary, readers, did all the photocopying and laminating, took photographs. Some of the off-campus adventures were – a bus trip to Hervey Bay on a whale watching excursion with Years 2 and 5, music performances in Brisbane, visiting a farm at Gheerulla and surf awareness at Noosa Beach.
Moving through the years I continued working as a teacher aide but moved around - to Learning Support and then back to the classroom. During this time, I fell into organising the Textbook Hire. Then there was the move to Educational Support Officers which saw me moved into the Copy Room. My passion was working with the children so once again I was applying for a job in Learning Support at St Andrew’s. This role took me into Secondary for a couple of years, but my preference has always been Primary. We had many teacher aides completing their placement at St Andrew’s and I was there to guide and assist them through their placement.
My biggest achievement is working with children who struggle with their schoolwork. These children work so hard to make a small improvement. It is a beautiful moment to watch them have that lightbulb moment, to see the improvement in their reading – from individual words to stringing a fluent sentence together, writing a few words to writing many sentences, able to complete their times table grid. I’m grateful to be a part of one of our student’s journeys who struggled with reading in Year 2 and graduated with amazing grades. She thanked me at the Walking Out Ceremony for helping her in Year 2 with her reading.
A couple of memories from the first year was the school purchased a roll laminator to do posters etc. Steve Robson came into the room and was very excited. His Year 5 class had each made a poster and thought we should test out the laminator. He starts putting them through and leans over to see them come out the other side. Fortunately, I saw his tie about to be laminated and got him out of the way. Very close near miss.
Another memory was when I helped organise an excursion to a friend’s dairy farm in Gheerulla for Prep. The students had never been to a dairy farm before. They were to see the cows being milked, help bottle feed some calves and then have scones with jam and cream with fresh milk.
Anyone who was at the school in the early year would know that our pioneering spirit was strong. Everyone had to help each other and it was a very tight team. My children were too old to go to school at St Andrew’s, but they were a great age to help. If there was an after-school event they were there helping. On occasions when they weren’t at school, they even came in to read with children in the classroom.
I love working with my colleagues and with the students. It is what has kept me here for 20 years. I feel proud to be a part of the growth in the College from 161 students, 16 staff and 4 buildings to what we have today. I look forward to seeing the completion of the College campus knowing that I was there at the very beginning.
It will be interesting to see where the College will be in another 20 years. What subjects will be taught? How will classes be delivered? I wish it all the best.
At the end of 2002, I was hoping to get a job at St Andrew’s and thought that I could work there for maybe 10 years. Present day, I have completed 20 years at the school and looking forward to retirement one day.