Teacher wins hearts in NT
TEACHING in a remote Aboriginal community can be a tough place for a young teacher to cut her teeth, but for Dunoon-raised Rachael Muller the experience has brought lifelong rewards.
Ms Muller's achievements during a three-year Northern Territory teaching stint saw her decorated with the Top End's highest accolade for a young person on Sunday night - the Northern Terri- tory Young Achiever of the Year.
"It's pretty humbling; I was just doing what I normally do and I never expected recognition," a modest Ms Muller, 25, declared.
A Southern Cross University teaching graduate, Ms Muller was the sole teacher at the isolated Imanpa community,
200km from Alice Springs. The dusty and drought-ridden community had experienced a revolving door of teachers prior to her arrival in 2010.
"The kids weren't really sure who was coming next and how long they would be staying," Ms Muller said.
"They asked me how long I was going to stay and they said 'you won't last - no one lasts'."
But their assumptions were to be proved wrong.
"I was up for a challenge and I decided if I was going to make a go of it I had to really put everything I had into being a part of the community as well."
And one year later she was still there. And the next year, and the year after that.
One of her crowning achievements was to oversee two 16-year-old girls who completed a unit of the NT's high school Leaving Certificate - a feat never before accomplished at the school.
"They're quite bright students, they just needed someone to support them," she said.
She also arranged the school excursion of a lifetime for six of her highest attending students, taking them to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Rd.
Now back home in Dunoon for a new chapter in her life, she's looking forward to being a "normal 25-year-old again" - until the desire to return to the NT strikes again.