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Maddy found her calling on the ski slopes of Japan

This article appears in: Changing careers, Education
Teaching student Maddy on the slopes

Sometimes career inspiration strikes in the unlikeliest of places. After a couple of false starts at uni, it was finding a job as a ski instructor that encouraged Maddy move to the tropics to become a primary school teacher

CDU teaching student Maddy as a ski instructor

Maddy had what she describes as a “tumultuous time” after high school, playing trial and error with a few undergraduate degrees and battling an illness that had her in and out of hospital.

“At points I had almost lost all hope of ever being able to start, let alone complete, a university degree,” she says.

Taking some time off to travel and work, Maddy ended up as a ski instructor for half a decade across Japan and Australia.

With most of her skiing clients aged 4-12, Maddy soon realised why she loved this job so much.

“I always knew I wanted to work with young people, and this was a practical way of being able to do it."

She found herself thinking more and more about teaching in a primary school.

When COVID hit in 2020, Maddy took the opportunity to slow down and look at studying again—only this time she would be studying something she was truly interested in.

Finding an “open and welcome” university

Maddy enrolled in a teaching degree at a university in Melbourne, where she was living.

She admits starting an undergraduate degree later than her peers made her feel like she was playing catch-up.

“At the time, I think I felt embarrassed as many of my friends and family had already completed one, if not two, university degrees and were working full-time in various jobs and earning a good wage.”

Then Maddy moved from Melbourne to Darwin and transferred her Bachelor of Education Primary to CDU.

“I have found that there are many other mature age students who, just like me, have had their own stories of how they got here,” she says.

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, and I feel like CDU has been really open and welcome and flexible in that way, and I never felt silly or isolated for attempting my first undergraduate degree at the age of 27-30.

In fact, Maddy is now grateful that she waited a little longer to do her Bachelor of Education Primary.

“After waiting 8 more years and being a bit older at uni, I had invaluable life experience and insight that has been extremely helpful in my degree.”

Singing, studying

Specialising in music has been a particular highlight of Maddy’s learning experience.

She loved attending one-on-one singing lessons and studying musical theory online alongside her other teaching units.

Having the opportunity to do music subjects at CDU has given me the knowledge and passion to incorporate music into classroom lessons with my students.

Her passion and dedication didn’t go unnoticed. Maddy received an Academy of Arts award for outstanding academic achievement in music.

“The award was for high achievement and commitment to the music subject, which for me I think just came because I enjoyed the subject so much.”

She recommends other students don’t shy away from choosing the ‘fun’ subjects, like music has been for her.

“Don’t choose the subjects you think you ‘should’ do,” she says. “You want uni to be a little bit fun. It keeps you motivated and makes the course much more enjoyable.”

Teaching in the tropics

CDU teaching student Maddy

Maddy is now looking forward to graduating and teaching her own class of students in sunny Darwin.

She feels well equipped to venture out into the real world, but also knows teaching is a profession that can have a lasting impact.

CDU has taught me that in teaching, the learning doesn’t stop after graduating.

"You are constantly learning and developing and expanding your knowledge and skills as society evolves, and with more research informing our practice about how children best learn.”

Maddy even sees herself having a keyboard in the classroom to keep the kids engaged while they learn. It’s sure to hit the right note with her audience!

Inspired by Maddy’s story? Choose CDU for your teaching course and learn online or on campus, part-time or full-time.

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