With a supply shortage of Adventist teachers, Adventist Schools Australia (ASA), in conjunction with the education team from the various church regions across the country, has been creating new initiatives to encourage people to study teaching at Avondale University.
ASA created a Teacher Supply Working Party to develop strategies to enhance teachers’ retention and find ways to actively encourage people to attend Avondale University and pursue careers in Adventist education.
“The recommendations from the working party provide a valuable roadmap to ensure that we have a sustainable supply of well-trained, committed Christian teachers to staff our schools into the future,” Daryl Murdoch, education director at the Australian Union Conference (AUC), said.
In August 2021, the church’s National Education Council received the Teacher Supply Working Party report and approved the new position of a Schools Liaison Officer and a number of scholarships for students studying teaching at Avondale University.
The Schools Liaison Officer position will form part of the Avondale University marketing team to support Adventist secondary schools. The officer will connect students and staff to entry pathways to study at Avondale University. They will provide career advice, promote the benefits of studying at an Adventist institution, and maintain a one-on-one connection with interested students.
ASA has also introduced three new scholarships for young people wanting to study teaching or furthering their studies at Avondale University.
The Avondale University Changemaker Scholarship is available for students in their first year of studies and is worth AU3,000 (about US$2,150) for the first two semesters. The MTeach Scholarship is available for those enrolled in a Master of Teaching program, with a maximum of AU$6,000 (about US$4,300) over four semesters. The School Company Teacher Training Scholarship, which is not exclusive to those studying at Avondale University, is available to students in their second to fourth year of studies, with a minimum of AU$3,000 (about US$2,150) per year going toward university costs.
“We are extremely passionate about creating [high-]quality Adventist educators,” Murdoch said. “Our school system is the largest Protestant schooling system in the world, and our schools in Australia continue to grow and are sought after due to the level of education and care provided.
“We want to show potential students that teaching is an excellent and fulfilling career path. It is the reason we are investing in scholarships, the school liaison officer, and looking into other opportunities to encourage them, such as having an apprenticeship model of teacher training. We want to inspire them to continuously develop their skills and knowledge throughout their careers,” Murdoch said.
One of many inspirational stories resulting from the initiatives and programs implemented by ASA is the story of Tiana Song. She moved from China to Australia and came from an atheist background.
Tiana married, and after she and her husband had their daughter, the family started to look for truth in life, first examining an eastern religion and then Christianity. When they began looking for schools for their daughter, they came across Nunawading Christian College and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
They were impressed with the teachers and the principal, and their daughter thrived at the school. As Tiana became actively involved with the school, she and her husband began Bible studies and were subsequently baptized.
Tiana decided to become a teacher and commenced training via distance learning at Avondale University. She noted the potential of the MTeach Scholarship and applied for it earlier this year, and now she has been appointed to teach at Edinburgh College in 2022.
“ASA wants to invest in our teachers and our schools,” Murdoch said. “We want to attract the young people straight out of high school, but we also value the life skills that come from mature teachers.
“We are hoping that these initiatives will encourage and inspire people, no matter what stage of life they are in, to follow God’s calling and become an Adventist educator.”