About Me

Visiting the King's Palace at Simanindo, Danau Toba, Indonesia wearing a beautiful hand woven ulos.

Visiting the King’s Palace at Simanindo, Danau Toba, Indonesia wearing a beautiful hand woven ulos.

I’m Steve, an indigenous teacher from north-west NSW of the Nganyaywana (Anaiwan) people. I grew up in the tiny town of Bonshaw (pop. 30) and went to primary school there in a 2 teacher school before taking the daily bus to Texas in Queensland to complete junior high school. Senior high school was completed at Inverell High School and Tenterfield High School in the mid-80’s. The trip to school started at 6:30am to arrive by 9 and I was very lucky if I ever made it home before 5pm. Winter was terrible, with both trips either beginning or ending in darkness.

I grew up speaking Aboriginal English at home, and speaking ‘good’ English only at school. To be honest I was embarrassed by how I spoke at home and as I grew older was determined not to speak like that again. At school, in the playground, we spoke an odd mix of English, Italian, Spanish and Maltese due to the many new migrants who had moved to Australia and our community to work on the tobacco plantations as share farmers. These days when I hear Italian or Spanish being spoken I feel like I’m right on the edge of comprehension, but never seem to be able to get there. Maybe I should study one of these languages next.

I completed my teacher training at Armidale C.A.E. from 1986-88 and set off to Goodooga Central School where I was variously required to teach Secondary, Primary, Library, L.O.T.E., STLA and Senior Secondary (access programme) to name a few. The time I was here finally made me realise how useful my Aboriginal English home language had been. I stayed at the school for 10 years and in that time I studied Indonesian at UNE. I travelled to Indonesia a few times in this period and ended up accepting a job with Intrepid Travel as a Tour Leader from 1999 until the Bali Bombing of 2002 in which I lost several Balinese friends.

Due to low tourist numbers, I moved home to Australia and taught casually at Collarenebri Central School for 5 terms before being appointed to Narrandera High School and Primary School as AERT in a position shared between the two schools. After 2 years there of being an outsider in the Aboriginal community, I applied for and accepted the offer of AP at Collarenebri Central School. This lasted until stress started to cause drastic health concerns so I resigned and moved to Singapore to teach English.

I stayed for 4 years and then moved to Jakarta, Indonesia as Curriculum Delivery Manager for an English Language teaching franchise for 2 years. From there I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as teacher again. However, the Malaysian government decided to revoke my visa due to my not having a full degree. I had already started studying with ACU but they only wanted full degree foreigners working there. So now I’m back in Australia, in Caboolture just north of Brisbane. I live with my brother and his wife and spend as much time as I can on my study.

I’m somewhat of a technophobe, but love learning new things. Saying that, I have and ipod, iphone, ipad and macbook. It’s not the devices, but rather the software that I’m wary of. I have difficulty completing tasks by following instructions. I find that, just as I have all my life, I need to be able to watch someone DO something to really be able to learn. I really want to get something out of this course. I’ve wanted to set up a blog for some time now, but never had anyone who could show me how to do it. One issue I have with this course is that I really don’t want to have a big footprint, but due to this course, I find that I will need to expand mine. As a male teacher, I am very much aware of the vulnerability I have if I make the slightest error in my online footprint as people are all too keen to condemn you for them.

Any other details? Hmmmm….I’m directly related to the British royals through my mother’s family, down the line of youngest daughters of youngest daughters. My dad’s family has the Aboriginal background. I’m trilingual….English, Aboriginal English and Indonesian. Currently I’m also working hard at getting fit and losing weight to compensate for all the years of being too busy (read too lazy) to be bothered. I tend to specialise in teaching very young children, especially in phonics and the basics of language learning.

I’m currently working on a reading programme suited to teaching reading to Aboriginal students. I used a prototype to teach children as young as 4 to become fluent readers in English who had non-English speaking backgrounds. It successfully taught mildly Autistic children to read as well. Now I just need time and finances to set the programme up properly….after I finish this 4th year upgrade, I guess.


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