Students give Bingara “thumbs up”

June 24, 2009

A group of university students visiting Bingara last week were fascinated by the orange trees in Finch Street. “They wouldn’t last a day where we come from,” one told the Advocate.  The orange trees, and their school student guardians, have helped shape the students’ views of country life. 

The eight students were from Newcastle and Western Sydney, and were in Bingara for three days as part of the Beyond the Line program.

Student teachers, Kaylee Johnson, Isaac Flint, Amanda-Lee Hunt, Brigitta Brown, Rachel Miller, Katherine Gill, Jodi-Lee Jenkins and Scott King.

Katherine Gill, a primary teaching student, said she found the Bingara community to be “very nice and welcoming”.  She said she had always accepted she would need to work at first in the country “because it has always been easier to get jobs out here,” but after tasting life in the country, she will willingly ‘go bush’.  Katherine said her partner is from Tamworth, and is keen to move back to the country.

Kaylee Johnson admitted she was a little aprehensive about coming to Bingara, as she had never heard of the town, but was pleasantly surprised.

Fourth year student, Brigitta Brown, will be teaching drama to secondary students next year, and was delighted to find the Roxy Theatre. “I was impressed by the well behaved kids, and they all had lots of bounce,”  she said.  Brigitta said she had not considered coming to a country area to teach, but the warmth and welcoming attitude of the people she met have changed her mind.  While she was here, Brigitta took some of the students in a drama class, which she found very rewarding.

For Isaac Flint, the trip confirmed his intention to come to the country. Isaac finishes his studies in July, and will become a secondary teacher.

Fourth year student, Jodi-Lee Jenkins  has already applied for western area teaching.  Although she grew up on the Central Coast, Jodi-Lee’s family came from the Kempsey area. She is looking forward to becoming a primary teacher.

Amanda-Lee Hunt said she knew that to get a position, she would probably have to come to the country. “Until I came here, I did not realise there is so much more to enjoy,” Amanda-Lee said. “It has been a wonderful experience, the hospitality and extra curricular activities have been great,” she said.

Rachel Miller said that teaching in the country had always been an option, and she had already applied to go anywhere in the state. “I wanted to see what it was like out here. There are experiences in a rural community which you can’t get at the coast,” Rachel said.  While she was in Bingara, Rachel also discovered golf “my new favourite sport”.

Apart from golf, the students also travelled to Inverell to watch Bingara students playing in a rugby league match.

Primary teaching student, Scott King explained he has a young family, and is keen to move out of the city, “ideally to a place like this.” “This is a good place to raise a family,” Scott said.  Scott said he likes the country because the teachers see each other socially “hang out together”, and there are opportunities to be involved in sport.  He is a keen cricket and rugby player.

Mark Straney, co-ordinator of the NSW Department of Education’s Explore Your Future program, has been running the Beyond the Line program since 2001.

“Last year, 480 students took part in 17 school community visits, this year we have about 15 visits,” Mr. Straney said. Of those 480 students, he said, 47 per cent said before their trip they were considering a posting in a country area.  After the trip, the figure of those who would apply for a rural or remote posting jumped to 96 per cent.

“The program is essentially a taster of what it is like to live and work in rural and remote NSW,” Mr. Straney said.  All NSW Universities are involved in program.

Six in the group who visited Bingara are from Newcastle, and two are from the University of Western Sydney.  Fifty students were on the tour which visited the whole Moree area.