Tagai State College, Sabai Island Campus
After just one year of teaching on one of the state’s most remote islands, Krystal Flynn started a Masters degree focusing on languages in her local community.
Her analysis of Yumplatok – the Torres Strait Islander Creole – and Kalaw Kawaw Ya, a dialect of Kala Lagaw Ya, which is spoken on Saibai Island, is informing her teaching in the classroom.
Tagai State College (TSC) Associate Principal Ken Treasure says Krystal is already an exceptional teacher in her second year in the profession. This year she is the winner of the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award.
Krystal started her teaching career last year at the TSC campus on Saibai Island, which is just 4km away from Papua New Guinea and 150km north of Cape York.
She says her Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics, which so far has included a project analysing the differences between Torres Strait Islander Creole and Standard Australian English, is helping her teaching.
“Although we are primary school teachers, more than anything we are language teachers, because we are teaching children how to speak English right from the very start,” the Year 2 and 3 teacher says.
“The Australian Curriculum kind of operates under the assumption that kids come to school with a basic level of English, where as our kids generally don’t.”
Krystal says the Saibai Island community, which is visited daily by Papua New Guineans by boat, was very isolated, with just a local store, the school, a health centre and a church.
But Krystal adores the island, the community and the experience it has given her.
“The community is just lovely and the children, they make your time up here I think,” she says.
“I have got a really, really good bunch of children, and realistically the whole island has got great children. It is so rewarding teaching up here; because there are no cinemas, because there are no waterparks or anything, they are so engaged with what you do at school.
“To go back (to the mainland) with your transfer points you actually need to be here for two years. I have put my name down for a third year because I do enjoy it so much.”
QCT Director John Ryan says Krystal’s work highlights that outstanding teaching is taking place right across Queensland.