Lee Cunningham’s journey to employment as an IEU organiser is a bit different to the usual story, but she brings with her a skill set that should prove valuable.
Lee did a degree in Property Economics at Western Sydney University upon leaving school and worked as a valuer in the retail property world for five years.
“When I studied Property, being a valuer was sold as an honourable and respected role in the profession,” Lee said.
“But when I got into it I found it didn’t sit so well with me. I’d been told all my life I’d make a great teacher and I came to the realisation I would really love to teach.”
With some experience working with children as a swimming coach, Lee undertook a Bachelor of Primary Education and since 2015 has had casual and 12 month contracts in Catholic and Education Department primary schools in Sydney.
“Last year I had 29 kinders, so I feel I can do anything now!”
Lee said she was surprised to find beginning teachers were not mentored or supported well compared to young people developing careers in the real estate industry.
“I felt like my experience in property gave me insight in how teachers should advocate for themselves.
“My Year 12 history teacher had advised me to join the Union as soon as I got a job, so I got into the IEU straight away. I also had a great rep on my final prac experience.
“I became excited by the idea that I had skills from my property experience that I could use to help other teachers.”
Lee has begun work for the IEU because she wants to inform, educate and assist teachers, particularly early career teachers, to better know their rights and entitlements.
“Teachers are so busy and preoccupied that they don’t have a chance to find out what they’re actually entitled to.
“Sometimes they just don’t have the capacity to ask for help. That’s where I come in.”