Despite only joining the teaching profession four years ago, Emily Thomas has made it her mission to raise awareness of the benefits of Union membership with her colleagues.
Thomas graduated as a music teacher in 2014 and joined the small staff of 50 at Hills Adventist College, which is spread across two campuses at Castle Hill and Kellyville.
She loves her role teaching music to K-10 at the two campuses.
“I went into music teaching because of my love of music. But in my second year of my degree I realised how amazing music education was,” Thomas said.
Her father, a Design and Technology teacher and IEU member in Victoria, encouraged her into the profession.
He also encouraged Thomas to get involved with the IEU. Soon after becoming a member Thomas noticed density was not high at her school and began talking about it to her colleagues.
Even though she was a new young teacher, Thomas said she felt she had more knowledge about the Union than some of the more experienced teachers, due to her father’s influence.
“I was able to talk to them quietly about the professional development and growth they could gain from an organisation outside of the school. The awareness was not that high and when they understood the Union could help them address things like accreditation and workload and would give them somewhere they could ask questions, they were convinced. It also helped with networking and building professional connections so that teachers don’t feel isolated in their subject areas.”
Thomas became the joint Rep at the school, with Dinah McDonald, earlier this year and has continued her strategy of having “quiet conversations” with colleagues.
“Advice from my organiser about how to get things going and just talking with them was the main thing.”
Thomas said it was positive for staff in the small school to have another professional organisation they could turn to and assist in further development of collegiality.
“There’s more of a collegial feel now, there’s an awareness that every single person has someone there for professional back up and support if they need it.”