From Santa Maria to Singapore: Laura’s Next Adventure

Laura Agostino, Santa Maria College English teacher and alumni, is set to embark on an international teaching adventure in 2024. Lisa is excited about teaching at an International school in Singapore next year.  In this blog, Laura reminisces about the impact of her schooling at Santa Maria, shares insight into her career, and discusses her new position. 

Did your experience as a student at Santa Maria College influence your decision to become an English teacher?

Attending Santa Maria as a student definitely fostered my love of learning and my love of school in general. I always looked up to my teachers and felt that they really cared about me as a student. I loved school and thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student here. When I was in Years 11 and 12 I put a lot of effort into my study of English and it became an area of passion and a talent of mine. My friends used to say that I would be an English teacher one day as a joke! I didn’t think anything of it at the time. By the time I finished high school, I knew I wanted to continue studying writing, and I didn’t yet see myself as a teacher. I originally pursued journalism. But I know my time at Santa Maria shaped my view of education as a positive experience and something to be valued.

What inspired you to pursue a career in education, specifically as an English teacher?

When I was studying my undergraduate degree at UWA, I started tutoring high school students in English, and I found it really rewarding. That’s where I first had the idea of studying teaching. I knew I wanted to work with teenagers, and I was studying a double major in English and Cultural Studies and Media and Communications at the time, so this allowed me to enrol to study secondary teaching with an English major and Media studies minor. As soon as I started my first teaching prac at South Fremantle Senior High School, I knew it was the right job for me. I loved being in a school setting and being able to help students.

Was there a memorable moment from your time as a student at Santa Maria College or any specific staff that has influenced you and your career as a teacher?

I was, of course, very inspired by Ilse Morey – my Homeroom teacher from Years 8-12 and my English teacher for Years 11 and 12. Her lessons were always filled with such amazing stories, and she really allowed me to experiment with my writing and foster my passion for English. Her wisdom and talent as an educator is something I can only wish to have in the future as a teacher. Being able to come back to Santa Maria and work with Ilse as a colleague was such a unique and special experience and felt like a ‘full circle’ moment in my Santa Maria journey. Ilse was the main influence for my love of English, and I’m forever grateful for that.

I also have such fond memories of competing in IGSSA swimming and athletics as a student here. I really enjoyed participating in a range of sports and being able to challenge myself in this way. I felt very inspired by my PE teachers, too. PE was always one of my favourite subjects.

As a past student, are there specific challenges or rewards you’ve encountered teaching at Santa Maria College?

During my first year working at Santa Maria, I found the flashback moments quite challenging. It felt very strange to be teaching in the classrooms I sat in as a student and working with teachers who taught me. I had constant flashbacks  – from sitting at lunch with my friends to staring out the window on the third floor at the view of the city. It all felt very strange at first, and took me a while to adjust.

However, now the unique sense of familiarity with the school culture feels like a blessing and allows me to connect with my students easily and share stories of when I was at school that they can easily relate to. It’s a special experience that has made my teaching practice more rewarding and fulfilling.

What motivated your decision to transition from teaching at Santa Maria College to pursuing a position at an international school? 

I grew up down the road from Santa Maria, and I currently live in Fremantle. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working at Santa Maria and being so close to where I grew up, but I’ve always been in Perth, and I’ve had the goal of teaching and living overseas for a while now. I feel so grateful that the teaching profession allows for that.

What are you most looking forward to about living in Singapore? 

I’m looking forward to the big city lifestyle, endless tropical summer weather and the safety in Singapore. I’ve travelled to Singapore many times, and I always felt that I could see myself living there. The lifestyle is so different to Australia, and it’s quite a futuristic place. I’m really excited to experience living there.

Are there any specific places you want to travel to or things you want to experience?

I’d like to go to Japan and Vietnam during the school holidays while I’m there. Singapore is such a great base for travel as it’s usually the stopover between Australia and other international travel. I will try to take advantage of the shorter flights to other countries and being a ferry ride away from Indonesia.

What skills or insights from your time at Santa Maria College do you think will be most valuable in navigating a teaching role at the international school in Singapore?

I think my adaptability will be valuable, I am hoping also to transfer the skills I have developed in being able to cater my lessons to students who are driven and motivated, as the students are at Santa Maria. I hope to be able to take a similar approach to students in Singapore, as I think they will have a similar level of academic drive.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Laura. We wish you all the best for your adventure in Singapore and look forward to hearing your stories on your return to Santa Maria.

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