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It’s fitting that Stephanie Wehmeier’s Year 1
classroom at Glenmore State School in Nor th
Rockhampton is painted azure; the sky is
the limit for her 19 boys and girls dressed
in their green or blue shorts and shirts.
They are gathered in front of the
class’s interactive white board for
their daily maths lesson.
The room is cool and the lighting has been
dimmed so the screen is easier for them to see.
Stephanie exclaims, “Hocus pocus!” and
the chorus responds, “Everyone focus!”
Bright-faced – almost gleaming, like
the classroom decorations, ever y child
is totally in-the-moment, sprawled on the
floor or sitting, pencils at the ready.
Together, they read instructions.
Teacher aide Karyn Temperley is on
the far side of the room with Tyran . He
likes to jump; it helps him learn.
It’s Tuesday, 12:30pm, in Term 4, a few weeks
shy of the end of the year. Stephanie’s first
year as a Teacher is also drawing to a close.
“One-two. Eyes on me,” says
Stephanie, in between questions.
“One-two. Eyes on you,” they reply in unison.
The former RGS students (Class of 2012)
and CQUniversit y graduate (2016) – who, as a
six year old in Year 1 told her parents without
any doubt that she herself was going to be a
teacher – is in her element. Those typical first
year teacher jitters have begun to recede.
“It was crazy at the start of the year because
I had so much to learn on my feet. It was
hard. I admit it was very hard. I got about
half way through Term 1 and thought this
is so different to what I had expected.”
Stephanie instructs the children, once, to put
their pencils and books away. They scurry over
to the reading nook, planting themselves on and
around an intricately patterned, cosy, comfy,
colourful wing chair. The overhead lights throw a
bit of a spotlight on the fabric, setting it ablaze.
“ It ’s Miss Wehmeier’s special chair,” they tell
me, a gift from colleagues at the Southside
swimming pool where she previously worked.
The chair, with its crocheted starbursts and
snowflakes, is an attraction all by itself; but it is
the children’s developing love of words and their
colourful teacher which are the real magnets.
“ We just love Miss Wehmeier,” a
little voice, Jackson, whispers.
Lunch and playgrounds outside beckon, but
the children want to tell me first about their
favourite books. Gabriella describes The Very
Cranky Bear. “He’s so cranky.” Carlos’ dark
brown eyes lift to the ceiling and he says he
loves books about Christmas and the snow.
Nikkitya, who loves hugs from Miss Wehmeier,
and Nha Ky are gleeful about The Three
Little Pigs, the “most special” fairy tale.
It’s approaching 1.15 and time to leave to
eat. Music class is after and the students
will practice a song called Yea r 1, set to
the tune of Summer Nights from Grease.
They’re anxious to perform for their visitor
so I am given a sneak peek of their end of
year concert performance before they go.
And the kids do have groove and meaning.
As the students hustle out, Stephanie
and I sit at a child’s desk, and huddle. She
exhales a little, run-down a bit from the flu.
We talked about Day 1.
“I got here super early at 6.30am as I was
so nervous and excited. I sat in my chair and
the bell had gone and they were just sitting
there looking at me and I thought, ‘Oh my
goodness, this is it, what do I do, what do I say?’
The first year of teaching can be like a
bull ride. Bruising. There was no better
way to learn, according to Stephanie,
than to just jump on, hold on and do it.
“I did not start with a lot of knowledge about
my children’s home life and social life. I had to
get out there. I had to communicate with parents
to get an idea of why their child was acting this
way or that way and to understand why he or she
may be down or what makes him or her happy.”
In Term 3, the class learned about insects
across the curriculum and decorated their whole
room, focusing on a different insect each week.
“ It was incredible. The kids were
engaged because they loved it. They were
interested and learned so much about
colours and math and more. We now
have insects hanging every where.”
Stephanie is confident. Now.
“ We are progressing. The kids have set tled. We
manage behaviour together. They are all going
to Grade Two, which is fantastic. I can see how
they have grown and I have made a difference.”
She glances at her reading chair.
“They like when we sit there together.
They tell me, ‘Now all you need
Miss Wehmeier is a crown.’”
RGS past student and
rookie teacher Stephanie
Wehmeier talks to Mike
Donahue about her
eager, bright, and loved are
words that equally describe
her and her students.
10 Rich Rewards: Read about another first year teacher compared to the exper iences of a seasoned professional on page 18
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