Most of us like to live a simple straightforward life. We do not accept or be the change unless it is crucial unless it is threatening our existence. Some of us however don’t wait for the pandemic global or individual. They are continuously striving for change and challenges to excel. It is their pursuit of excellence that makes them successful leaders.
And when it comes to leading an education institution one has to go beyond the duty on paper to challenge the status quo and create great minds of tomorrow they have envisioned. Jason Smith, the Principal of Tamborine Mountain State School (TMSS) is one such persistent influential educational leader who attributes his growth to his students’ excellence.
What inspired you to enter the noble field of education?
The first encounter of every person with a teacher happens in school. My inspiration for entering the education field came from my time experience in primary school. During my school years, both positive and negative experiences and circumstances happening around inspired me to be the type of educator I always wanted.
I was inspired by my sense of wanting to influence young lives by providing them a space to speak their minds and inspire them to be curious, creative, and dreamers who shape their destinies by empowering them to be better than good, to be excellent.
How your knowledge and experience have contributed to the growth of Tamborine Mountain State School?
Through my research and teaching experience over the years, I realized that reshaping our curriculum at Tamborine Mountain State School aligns with the changing needs and interests of our students. It was also crucial for our faculty to upgrade their skillset and bring in a positive approach to improve student engagement and learning outcomes.
This was easier said than done. However, my curriculum leaders felt challenged enough by this which inspired them to join and work towards this shared vision of an open and viable curriculum. The team created such a curriculum that not only aligned to the Australian Curriculum standards but also extended the scope of subject teaching and learning experiences and encouraged students to voice their ideas through a collaboratively planned learning approach.
I have been a firm believer that learning is a lifelong journey and want my students to be lifelong learners. I also keep telling you that your subject matter knowledge and expertise will make them college and job-ready.
Thus, designing the new curriculum also ensured that the platform provides enough space for students to tap into their abilities while taking control of their learning. This was done to ensure that our students evolve into critical thinkers, problem solvers, and leaders of tomorrow.
What strategic decisions did you make to improve the quality of education at Tamborine Mountain State School?
As I mentioned above, designing a traditional curriculum into an open and viable one was the major decision we took to support and encourage children to exceed their potential and inspire a shared positive vision.
To achieve the same I took the initiative to establish a unilateral partnership with Tamborine Mountain Learning Academy (TMLA) in collaboration with Griffith University and Swinburne University. I also created a Young Scholars Program (YSP) to provide a platform to enhance student learning experience alongside high-performing students beyond their chronological age.
The program that was the result of collaborative efforts of my faculty, staff, Principal Mrs. Tracey Brose, and on my part was recognized as the “Game Changer” for TMSS students by Queensland’s Director General of Education Dr. Jim Watterston.
What advice would you give to fellow educators?
Being a part of the education field is a responsibility itself, and one has to carry this out with a pure heart authentic mindset. Be original, be yourself. Embrace your talents as well as flaws.
Don’t be afraid of failures and mistakes as they will be your major sources to learn new perspectives and gain new experiences.
When you have experienced something firsthand is when you can share it with your students and ask their opinion on how they handle their mistakes. Teaching students to embrace their flaws and accept mistakes is essential to nurture sensible and responsible citizens of tomorrow.