Deputy leaps at exchange opportunity

LEAP TO LEARN: Jeena, Andrew, Aisha and Kylie Thomas leave on Wednesday for a two-week stint at the Westview Centennial Secondary School in Toronto, Canada.
LEAP TO LEARN: Jeena, Andrew, Aisha and Kylie Thomas leave on Wednesday for a two-week stint at the Westview Centennial Secondary School in Toronto, Canada.

Andrew Thomas is travelling half way around the world to teach during his holidays.

The Narooma High School deputy principal applied to join the Leading Educators Around the Planet (LEAP) program and will head to Toronto, Canada, on Wednesday.

His wife Kylie, a school learning support officer, and daughters Jeena and Aisha will be going too.

“My twin girls are in Year 9 here at Narooma and they are going into Year 9 over there,” Mr Thomas said.

”The school in Toronto is only Year 9 to 12 but has over 1000 kids – it will be interesting for them.”

The LEAP program was formulated by previous Batemans Bay Public School principal Warren Marks.

“It has been running for 10 years,” Mr Thomas said.

“LEAP is endorsed by the Department of Education but not supported by them – this trip is self-funded. You teach on the other side of the world in your holiday time.”

“I’ll be going to Westview Centennial Secondary School and I’ll be having a look at how they operate and comparing that with how we operate,” he said.

Mr Thomas’ trip will reciprocate Jeff Caton’s visit from Toronto to the Narooma High School at the start of this term.

Mr Thomas intends to do some additional work while he is at Westview.

“I’ll be running a research project while I am there,” Mr Thomas said.

“I want to see what level of engagement in normal in their system, how engaged are mainstream students, and how closely is student well-being tied to engagement,” he said.

To get the data he needs, Mr Thomas will interview students and staff, comparing their perspectives of the same lessons.

“Usually teachers and students have similar perception of how engaging the lesson is,” Mr Thomas said.

“That is well-being comes in.

“Perceptions of engagement are different when well-being affects the mindset of the student or the teacher.”

Mr Thomas said Mr Caton was impressed during his visist with the level of engagement the Narooma High School had, both with feeder-primary schools and people in the community.

“That is what he wants to develop at his school in Toronto,” Mr Thomas said.

And will the trip be all work and no play?

“We do two weeks at the school then, as a family, we are doing a little study tour of the US,” Mr Thomas said.

You would expect no less from a teaching family.