FRASER Coast is a far cry from Peru, South Africa and India but for Associate Professor Elaine Sharplin this region is just as exciting and she’s eager to explore.
University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast’s newest academic is keen to immerse herself in the education scene and go kayaking, hiking, camping and off-road driving in local areas including Fraser Island (pictured).
“I live to travel and taking this position is part of my next travel adventure,” Associate Professor Sharplin (Literacies, Curriculum and Pedagogy) said.
“I’m really looking forward to working with new colleagues and students, exploring opportunities, meeting school principals, staff and students, and immersing myself in Queensland’s education system.
“This position gives me an opportunity to explore Queensland, which is relatively new to me. I’m looking forward to exploring the east coast and hinterland areas as far up as Cape York.”
USQ Vice Chancellor and President Professor Jan Thomas welcomed Associate Professor Sharplin to the University saying she was a valued addition to the team of academic and professional staff.
“Her expertise, particularly in rural and regional education, is highly regarded and we look forward to having her on board to enhance USQ’s range of programs and partnerships with schools, industry, government and the wider community,” Professor Thomas said.
Exploring education internationally
Associate Professor Sharplin was born in Victoria but lived most of her life in Perth.
She has worked in rural and metropolitan schools as Secondary English Teacher, been a Regional School Development Advisor, co-ordinated communications, workplace and women’s programs at TAFE in Port Headland, and conducted research as a consultant before spending the past 15 years at The University of Western Australia as Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) and Secondary Teacher Education Program Co-ordinator.
Her research interests include Rural and Regional Education, English and Literacy Education, Early Career Teacher Development, Pre-service Teacher Education, Curriculum and Pedagogy.
Associate Professor Sharplin has a strong record of supervising higher degree (Masters and Doctoral) students in a broad range of areas.
She also Editor for the Australian and International Journal for Rural Education.
“Because of my interest in rural and remote education, I’ve previously worked with Indigenous communities and am keen to get to know the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of the Fraser Coast and beyond.”
Associate Professor Sharplin said she hit the ground running as she arrived in Hervey Bay in late January.
“I arrived on the Monday, settled on a house in Urangan on the Tuesday and started at USQ Fraser Coast on the Wednesday,” she said.
“Before that I had been in India for a month and flew back to Perth the day before coming to Hervey Bay.”
Her travels last year took her to India, Tanzania and South Africa while on long-service leave, and also to a remote village in Peru where she conducted a study of parents and students’ education aspirations.
“In Peru I was billeted with a family, taught English to students and met with parents, staff and parent association members to collect data about the aspirations of the parents and children.
“I also explored what barriers may have been inhibiting the achievement of those aspirations.
“What was fascinating was that many of the issues in relation to Peru’s rural and remote education were very similar to the Australian context.
“There were similar issues around the attraction and retention of teachers and subsequently the quality of teaching, as well as issues of geographic and economic disadvantage.
“The similarities were quite astounding.
“In Tanzania I had an opportunity to visit some schools and look at the experiences of disadvantaged girls’ education.”
Associate Professor Sharplin has also travelled widely across to the globe to places such as Vietnam, Cambodia, South America, North America and Europe.
Her 23-year-old daughter, a primary school teacher, and 19-year-old son are still living in Perth.