Krystal turns teaching into a tool for change
The island of Saibai, just south of Papua New Guinea, proved the perfect choice for Bachelor of Education student Krystal Flynn when she turned her thoughts to life and work after university.
Guided by the advice of an Indigenous Education mentor at Griffith’s School of Education and Professional Studies, Krystal looked north rather than overseas and today finds herself working across 17 campuses spread throughout 48,000 square kilometres of islands in the Torres Strait.
“I think teaching remote is the ultimate teaching adventure,” says Krystal who graduated from Griffith in 2014. “Each island and each community have their own unique language or language situation. Having grown up bilingual, I really connected with teaching in such a linguistically diverse place.”
The Bachelor of Education graduate thrived in the Saibai classroom, while also developing her awareness about barriers to education. This prompted her to study a Master of Applied Linguistics, which now also informs her new role in the Far North as a teaching and learning coach out of Tagai State College. This work takes her into many different classrooms across the Torres Strait Islands.
“I think education is the best way to increase a person’s life chances, and I truly believe that every student, irrespective of their postcode, deserves the highest quality of education. Griffith’s vision that every student deserves a quality tertiary education matches my belief.”
As a child, Krystal did not grow up dreaming of becoming a teacher someday. Her love for teaching was a process that gained momentum once she immersed herself in her Bachelor of Education studies at Griffith. Her relationship with teaching evolved from teaching prac to teaching prac. “By the time I finished my fourth prac, I knew the classroom was where I was meant to be. And then going on to have my first class (in Saibai), it was just so special.”
Being a Griffith student had an immense impact on Krystal from the opportunities offered by the Griffith Honours College to the award of a Griffith Futures Scholarship. “When you do your practicums and internships, you don’t have time for a part-time job, so the scholarship really helped me to get through. You’re not just a number at Griffith. They knew me by name, they knew my story, and they wanted to help that story continue.”
Krystal has thrived since first arriving in the Torres Strait Islands, as have her students. So much so that in 2016 Krystal received the ‘Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award’ from the Queensland College of Teachers.
Her achievements as a teacher in the Torres Strait also reflect Griffith’s position among the best universities in Australia for education graduate success, with its education degrees designed to respond to demand and industry changes. “I got to experience quality teaching at Griffith and now I get to deliver quality teaching in the Torres Strait. I now get to make an impact through my teaching.”