Local teacher wins $45,000 award

MATTHEW Eyles is no ordinary registered nurse.

The Hobart College science teacher is one of two Tasmanian educators who received a $45,000 fellowship as part of the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards.

His background led him to develop an Introduction to Nursing course to give students a practical learning experience and enhance future pathways.

Mr Eyles said he was completely humbled by the award, which would open up a number of possibilities for the students.

“If I can give information to students from all different areas about everything that I’ve done, then you see that they engage more and see possibilities for themselves,” he said.

Mr Eyles set up a simulated five-bed hospital space in the classroom and an interactive website to guide learning two-years-ago.

Students are exposed to real-world hospital experiences and regular visits by local aged-care residents.

With constant support from the nursing students, the residents paint with art students, get pampered by hairdressing students and watch concerts by music students.

Mr Eyles said there was currently a big gap from high school to the workforce.

“It’s daunting, it’s scary, and you’re not really quite sure what’s going to happen,” he said.

“The importance of this course is it helps students to find and choose a pathway, it gives them passion and a practical-based approach in the hospital and work placement.

“It really helps their future so they can create a pathway that’s designed for them and ideally, it gets them future study and it gets them jobs.”

Student enrolments have more than doubled in three years and graduates have found health sector jobs or gone on to tertiary health courses.

“We’ve gone from 30 students originally to 70 students this year,” Mr Eyles said.

“We’ve also opened the course at Bayview Secondary College, which is really exciting.”

The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards are held in partnership with education not-for-profit Schools Plus to reward 12 distinguished educators and school leaders across Australia, encouraging their efforts in transforming student lives.

The prize money will benefit educational efforts at the school with $30,000 to fund a project designed to improve student performance and wellbeing, $10,000 for each teacher’s professional development, and $5000 for participation in a 12-month fellowship program that includes an overseas study tour.

Caption: Hobart College science teacher Matthew Eyles.