She is known as the ‘Mother of Wisdom’ by students and staff.
Now she is a finalist in state teaching awards.
Wisdom College teacher Canan Coskun’s deep care and concern for her staff and students, and her history at the school even before it opened, has earned her much-loved nickname and a finalist place in the Outstanding Contribution to School Community category of the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Awards.
Ten years ago, Mrs Coskun was involved in gaining the school’s accreditation, looking at the potential site, getting council approval, establishing resources and writing the school’s values. The following year she was its first teacher, with a composite class of Years 2 to 4.
The college is a small, non-denominational, independent school, which has a community in which 45 national and ethnic backgrounds are represented amongst 305 students and staff members. Every morning Mrs Coskun is on a mission to have all of them share a positive experience there.
As part of her pastoral care goals, she visits families’ homes, which also provides invaluable information as to how to best teach the children.
“One year a refugee family arrived from Somalia, and I knew they were struggling. The lady had ten children. I’ve got three adult daughters, they’re 19, 21 and 23. My oldest one, she’s also a teacher in high school. I said, ‘Let’s go and visit them. Let’s take some nice gifts for the mum and see if they need anything or if the school can assist them any further’,” Mrs Coskun said.
“It goes beyond education. It goes beyond the Maths and English that their daughters are learning in the classroom. I wanted to make sure that those girls were happy … that they don’t have any anxieties about being in a new country.”
Mrs Coskun said the experience was an eye opener for herself and her daughters. Since the visit she and the mother have grown close and Mrs Coskun has assisted where she can. She said the generosity of the families she meets is lovely and they display an innate kindness, something she highly values and tries to practise.
“Just be kind. Model kindness. Show kindness. To embrace everyone and have a heart so big that everyone fits into it,” she said.
Her generosity and skill at building positive relationships is reflected in gestures big and small. Whether it be asking a relief teacher how their day was, or creating the ‘Fabulous Friday’ breakfasts where staff come before school and have breakfast arranged by Mrs Coskun and the Wellbeing Committee, it has built morale and connections, with people working together more.
“It sounds really insignificant and small, but I noticed something happening and I noticed that teachers were actually happier. They would thank me, and they would tell me that they were really looking forward to Friday for the breakfast,” she said. “Once we’ve got those relationships right, the rest will come.”
Mrs Coskun is very humbled to have even been nominated. She said she feels privileged to do her job.
“I tell my students, ‘Deep down in my heart I want every one of you to be successful. You might be engineers, entrepreneurs, managers, teachers, one day’. I say that one of the greatest things you can do is give back to the society you are in,” she said.
As a finalist, Mrs Coskun received $500 for professional development.