Joel Ar­mitage

Alpine Observer - - News -

What is your job?

I am a teacher at Ta­wonga Pri­mary School. I teach grades 4, 5 and 6 – a group of 10 kids. It’s a re­ally small school of 26, and I am teach­ing to a wide range of abil­ity lev­els.

Is it some­thing you al­ways wanted to do?

I grew up in Gee­long and Torquay, and be­came a builder straight out of school – that’s what I al­ways wanted to be. Then my boss told me he was go­ing around Aus­tralia with his fam­ily, and I needed to find a new job. A friend from Torquay told me he was do­ing a sum­mer camp in Amer­ica, and I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a go. I was about 19 at the time, and at the camp I was work­ing with up­per pri­mary aged kids. I took moun­tain bik­ing and I did life guard­ing at the pool. On a build­ing site it’s just you and the boss and a few tradies, and at the camp I re­ally en­joyed work­ing with peo­ple with a sim­i­lar mind­set as my own. My dad and brother are both teach­ers and I think I had been try­ing to find my own path. When I came back to Aus­tralia I went to Victoria Univer­sity to do teach­ing and I worked at the lo­cal surf school in An­gle­sea all through uni. My first job was at Brim­bank Se­condary in St Al­bans, then we bought a house at Jan Juc and I worked at Lara Se­condary for 11 years. Dur­ing that time we did quite a bit of trav­el­ling in Europe. We went to Hol­land for my brother’s wed­ding and trav­elled through Si­cily, Sar­dinia and Malta. Dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days we’ve been to South Amer­ica and Asia. We’ve been to 20 plus coun­tries so far.

How did you come to be in the Kiewa Val­ley?

We moved here af­ter vis­it­ing my brother who has been here for 10 years. We loved the area. I’ve al­ways wanted to do an ex­change in an­other coun­try like Canada, but with a young fam­ily it’s not all that easy, so this is my sub­sti­tute. I’ve taken leave with­out pay from Lara – 12 months ini­tially, but I asked for an­other 12 be­cause it has gone so quickly. My wife is a speech ther­a­pist, work­ing with all the lo­cal schools. I ap­plied to all the lo­cal schools for CRT work and got a job at Ta­wonga.

What do you love about the job?

I love be­ing in a school with such a small num­ber of kids. It al­lows us to do some fun and ex­cit­ing things. We have done roller blad­ing, and con­structed a cross coun­try and moun­tain bike track – things you just wouldn’t be able to do in a big school. With a small num­ber of kids, it is much eas­ier to ex­tend them and it’s great to see the level that some kids can work at – kids that might get lost in a big sys­tem. I also re­ally like the ski pro­gram. It’s so dif­fer­ent from grow­ing up on the coast.

What do you do in your spare time?

Mt Beauty is heaven be­cause I love moun­tain bike rid­ing, snow­board­ing and kayak­ing. I have two boys who love sim­i­lar things and our fam­ily loves do­ing things to­gether. The only thing miss­ing is surf­ing.

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