Amy Miers began her association with Fintona in 1988 as a student in the Junior School. After completing her teaching degree and working in a variety of educational settings, including two years in an International School in Shanghai, Amy returned to Fintona in 2012. She spent a few years teaching Year 5 in the Middle School and is now teaching Year 4 in the Junior Campus.
Who inspired you to teach?
I suspect I was always destined to be a teacher as many of the women in my family are either teachers or have chosen careers in other care centred professions such as nursing and psychology. The value and importance of education has been part of our family story for generations. My mum has recently retired from over 40 years as an educator, 17 of those as a school principal. Her dedication to her vocation and the care she genuinely felt for each student, each family and each staff member was awe-inspiring. She has the rare ability to balance strength in her convictions with compassion for others, and high intellect and professionalism with a sense of fun and humour. This is absolutely the model to which I aspire.
What do you enjoy about working at Fintona?
There are many qualities of the Fintona Community that make working here enjoyable. A common theme amongst them is the relationships with the people. My colleagues are a passionate group of educators who inspire, encourage and support. The non-teaching staff members are equally passionate about their areas of expertise. I am deeply grateful for all the ways in which they support me personally and create such a warm and collegial workplace. The families throughout my time at Fintona have all worked in partnership with me to create a vibrant learning environment for their daughter. Of course, the best part of working at Fintona is the young women I have the privilege to teach. The joy they find in exploring, testing, discovering and learning, and the fun we have while engaging in this together makes this a wonderful place in which to work.
What is it about working in girls only education that attracts you?
We know that there are distinct differences in the way that girls learn. We also know that in spite of improvements in recent times, issues of pay parity and equal opportunity are still relevant today. Perhaps it is the Old Fintonian in me, but I believe that working in girls only education is my way of contributing to the development of strong young women. My aspiration is that an education at Fintona results in our students finding their voice, finding their place in the world and finding ‘success’ in whichever way is authentic for them.
In your experience, what do you believes has the largest impact on successful learning outcomes for girls?
There is a saying along the lines of, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I believe it may have been paraphrased from Theodore Roosevelt. This has always been the central tenet of how I teach and how I believe optimum learning occurs. Creating a trusting working relationship with students allows one to push them outside their comfort zone, celebrate with them in their successes and encourage them to persevere even when they experience failure. I believe that knowing ‘who we are’ when things go wrong and ‘what to do’ when we hit hurdles and challenges facilitates a strong pathway for ongoing success.
What is the best advice you can give students?
Say ‘Yes’ to as many of the opportunities provided here at Fintona as possible. Evidence from a Hewlett Packard research study found that women are more likely to apply for positions when they meet more than 90% of the qualifications required, whereas men are confident to apply when they have met 60%. With that in mind, my advice is to, ‘put your hand up, volunteer your time and take part in a broad range of activities’. Even if you are only half interested, have a go and see where the opportunity may take you. This should hold you in good stead when you are considering whether to submit that application to start a career in business or one of the health professions, whether to audition for that role in Theatre or the Arts, or whether to apply for positions in government. The possibilities are endless.
Who is your inspiration?
I am not particularly prone to idolatry and so choosing one person is quite difficult. A quality that I find inspirational is courage. To consider multiple perspectives on a given issue and then respectfully stand in one’s truth is what courage looks like to me. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who know who they are, pursue their goals with steadfast determination and persist even in the face of doubt and criticism.
How have you found online teaching?
I think it is evident to everyone in our community that this has been an extremely challenging period of time. However, in years to come, I do not think I will recall the late nights and myriad of ‘technical difficulties’. What I will remember is the ways in which I was challenged professionally to innovate and create, and the ways in which I developed my ICT skills at record speed! I will remember the depth of gratitude I felt from the parent body and the close partnerships that were forged as a result. This helped to create a rigorous learning space for their daughters. Most of all, I will remember the absolute delight in seeing my Year 4 students rise to each challenge. They have grown through this experience, surprised me with their insights and capacity to learn independently and above all kept me laughing each day.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Working full-time with a three year old at home, the notion of ‘spare time’ is quite a novel idea! When I do have a moment to myself, I enjoy taking a Pilates class, exploring the local nature reserve near my home, gardening, baking and reading. I also enjoy excursions to the Zoo and museums with my little one and I regularly frequent the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with family and friends. I have also become quite the Thomas the Tank Engine expert and I now know the difference between flatbed and curtain sider trucks as a result of raising a beautiful little boy.