Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (11:40): I rise in support of the member for Newland's motion and give thanks to all teachers both past and present who have served in the South Australian education system. As a former educator, I believe that teachers are a strong influence in a person's life. The formative years of our lives are spent in the education system and a good teacher not only educates but guides and inspires. After a parent, they are one of the biggest influences upon a child's life. The right teacher can bring out the best in a student and have a huge impact on their aspirations and career pathways. You always remember the good ones; their words of advice and encouragement stay with you long after leaving school or university.
Let me tell you about a teacher called Scott Maxwell. Scott has been a music teacher at Mount Gambier's Grant High School for nearly 10 years. There was some pretty big news for Scott earlier this month after he was announced as a finalist for the 2018 ARIA Music Teacher of the Year award. He made the top four out of a thousand nominations across Australia, which speaks volumes about how he is thought of by his students and peers. Ironically, Scott told me that when he was a young muso he used to watch the awards on television and wonder if he would ever be up there on stage one day.
Scott uses the language of music as his connection to students. When he started teaching 15 years ago in the APY lands, one of the first things he did was introduce a music program. Suddenly, he said, senior kids wanted to come to school. What Scott has, and what resonates with students, is an energy for teaching and for inspiring his students. With fellow Grant High School teacher Mike Bakker, Scott has created two original high school musicals for today's generation, using current world events as themes. Scott says that it is a massive rush watching students bring the roles to life and perform songs he has written. 'It gives kids the liberty to create,' he says. 'Computers can never replace creativity.'
One of the nicest things to happen since he has been nominated for the award is that ex-students have been reaching out to him, telling him that his teaching inspired them and made a difference in their lives. There is probably no greater reward for a teacher than hearing those words. Not every teacher is lucky enough to get national recognition, so today let's give thanks to all those hardworking and inspirational teachers out there doing good work every day.