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Shared values allows young leader to thrive and grow as a professional

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Teacher and head of junior school at The Essington School in Darwin, Renee Schultz, has had a slightly offbeat education journey.

When she first left school, she originally applied for a double degree in business and property.

Taking a gap year, she was visiting family when she first contemplated something different.

“…My auntie has six children and I was with her playing with one of the youngest children one day and she said ‘Renee I do not understand why you are not becoming a teacher’ so I stopped and reflected and thought ‘actually, that’s probably something I would love to do’. 

“So I enrolled into Early Childhood Education at the University of South Australia.”

“Right from the first moment I knew it was the right career for me,” she says.

That was ten years ago and Schultz has now stepped into leadership roles.

“I think it’s important for a teacher to find a school community that share the same values, and I believe in an environment where you feel that you do have that same value system, that you can really thrive and grow as a professional,” she reflects.

When Schultz was asked to consider a leadership position, she was also asked if she was interested in pursuing further study.

Beginning her Master of Leadership and Management in Education course at the University of Newcastle, Schultz recalls those early frantic days balancing school, family and study.

“I read a beautiful quote, which I have on my desk, which is ‘you can have it all, just not at the same time’ ... I thought that’s exactly how I need to balance my week. 

“I don’t necessarily have the balance every day, but over a week, I endeavour to balance my life as best as possible,” she says.

Having successfully completed her study, Schultz feels that the experience has enriched both her teaching and leadership. 

And while she’s now a school leader, she’s still very hands-on.

“I’m in the classroom every day … I relief teach, so I know what’s happening within the classroom.”

This article was written by Elizabeth Beattie and originally appreared in Australian Teacher Magazine and Education HQ Australia

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