Spotlight On: Ray Smithers

Posted September 13, 2017 in Interviews & Spotlights, Teacher Spotlights By Community Relations

Meet our newly appointed Boarding Year Coordinator Ray Smithers, who will be taking up the position as the Year 9 Coordinator in Term 1 2018. Ray joined Wesley in 2013 as a Resident on Duty in the Boarding House, before going on to teach P.E. across all three Sub-Schools. More recently he can be found off campus teaching our Katitjin program to Year 8 students and coaching various AFL teams for the College. Ray is looking forward to his new leadership position in the Boarding House and starting his journey alongside our Year 9s in 2018.

We asked Ray to share a bit of his background with us.

How long have you been teaching?

I finished my university double degree, a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Science, at the end of 2006 and I have been teaching ever since. Although I completed a (secondary) Physical Education degree, I have taught various age levels in my nearly ten years of teaching. My first three years of teaching was as a secondary P.E. teacher at Rockingham Senior High School, a government school in Perth’s south. My wife Jasmine and I then moved to the UK in 2010 and I was fortunate enough to get a job as a P.E. teacher at St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School in London. This was a great experience for many reasons, especially as London hosted the 2012 Olympic Games.

After returning to Australia at the start of 2013, Jasmine and I became Residents on Duty in the Boarding House at Wesley, whilst I worked as a special needs teacher at Kensington Secondary School for nearly two years. During this time, I also spent two terms in the Wesley Physical Education department covering long service leaves. Kensington Secondary School was an eye opening experience, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

For the past three years, I have had the privilege of teaching the Katitjin program at Wesley College – a unique, experiential based program focused on individual growth, understanding of how teams work effectively and broader community concepts. When I finished my university degree at the end of 2006, I never imagined my teaching career would have led to so many amazing and diverse opportunities, and I am very grateful that it has.

Tell us about your career highlights, prior to joining Wesley.

A career highlight would have to be when I took a group of students who were in the cricket program at Rockingham Senior High School to Brisbane to compete in a national cricket tournament. The boys played some great cricket, winning many games and really enjoyed seeing the sights of Brisbane. I found the entire experience amazing.

Another highlight for me would be creating and implementing a physical education program from Years 1 to 6 at St Teresa’s school, as prior to me joining the school did not have a program in place. Physical education is a passion of mine, so I really enjoyed the freedom of writing these programs and I even included bike riding and swimming! I also am proud to have started St Teresa’s involvement in inter-school sporting competitions. In my time at the school, two teams won the equivalent to state championships – girls football (soccer) and mixed touch rugby.

In 2012, London hosted the Olympic Games. Teaching P.E. in a city hosting the world’s biggest sporting event was really special. There was definitely a buzz in London in the lead-up to the Games, and sport in general was a real focus. As part of this Olympic year, St Teresa’s campaigned to raise 10,000 pounds (through sport related initiatives) to support our sister school in Chinamora, Zimbabwe. As part of this campaign, I along with the Headmaster and a parent from the school cycled from London to Paris in four days to raise funds.

A huge learning experience for me was teaching at Kensington Secondary School for approximately one and a half years. Even though I am not qualified in the area of special needs, after doing some relief at the school, the Headmaster and deputy saw potential in me to offer me a contract when a position became available. Although teaching outside of my qualification (especially in the area of special needs) took me out of my comfort zone, I took great confidence from the belief shown in me from the school’s leaders. I loved teaching at Kensington Secondary School where the curriculum was primarily focused on life skills, to enable students to develop skills to function as independently as possible. Helping students achieve their driver’s licence, learn to swim and gain real work experience were definitely career highlights for me.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I have always enjoyed working with people and I love sport, so the obvious career choice for me was a physical education teacher – a combination of the two! Even in school my favourite subject was always P.E, so the thought of doing P.E. all day every day was a dream of mine when I was younger. Although, I realise now that there is a lot more to P.E. teaching than playing sport all day.

Also, as a child I was fortunate enough to have great role models in my life, both male and female, including some fantastic teachers. The thought of being in such an influencing position, where I can look to provide positive guidance to young people is exciting, and definitely a contributing factor in my decision to become a teacher.

I also believe that learning to play sport provides students with more than just the tactics of the specific sport – skills and traits such as sportsmanship, communication, resilience and confidence are just a few examples of how learning to play sports can impact a student’s life off the pitch.

Why did you choose to join Wesley? 

When Jasmine and I returned from living in the U.K. at the end of 2012, we were looking for a new home and to resume our professional careers. A good friend of ours (Mr Leon Felton) who knew our intentions, put us in touch with Wesley’s Head of Boarding, David Bourne. We were fortunate enough to secure an available position as Residents on Duty, where we stayed for almost three years. Since then, I have worked in the P.E. department across all three Sub-Schools, become a Katitjin teacher and coached various teams/years of AFL.

Outside of school life, what are your favourite things to do? 

Recently my life has changed for the better as Jas and I welcomed our first child Georgia, who was born in October 2016. I am also fortunate enough to have a great network of friends so I very much enjoy socialising with my mates – usually on the weekends going out for dinner or watching the footy. I like to spend time outdoors, specifically at the beach. Every opportunity I get, especially in summer, I enjoy relaxing and swimming in the ocean.

I also like all kinds of music! I play the acoustic guitar (very badly) and I love getting time to strum a song or two when no one is around. Jas shares this love of music so we like to attend concerts and events when the opportunity arises. We also enjoy getting away for family holidays whenever possible and often go down south in school holidays.

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