It has been an eventful journey – taking seventeen years, a career change and faith journey to lead Rachel Stephen to primary teaching in a Catholic primary school within the Diocese of Broken Bay.
Initially studying high school teaching at university after leaving school, her stop-gap job within a bank while studying, became a successful banking career of seventeen years progressing to the role of branch manager for twelve years.
With the arrival of her daughter, Rachel began to reconsider her career options. Exploring the area of training, Rachel completed two years as a Service Quality Manager within the same bank but she felt that a career teaching children was beckoning.
“My exit strategy from the bank was a couple of years in the making. I was working full time and studying a .75 load at university. My holidays for a couple of years were spent doing teacher practicums. I had to do three practicums while working full time which was a nightmare….. but I had to do the right thing for me,” she explained.
Rachel’s first teaching role was at St Bernard’s Catholic School in Berowra.
“I had done a prac at St Bernard’s and the school offered me an initial short teaching stint. I asked when I needed to start and they said the next day. So I left the bank and started my teaching career!”
Coming from a corporate environment where she knew the systems inside out, it was a challenging career change for Rachel.
“Teaching is definitely where I should be but I have found that I am out of my comfort zone. As a teacher you are always learning, and that’s the appeal, yet a challenge for me.”
Rachel found the Primary Mentoring Program run for early career teachers in the Diocese of Broken Bay to be of great support. Initially she felt torn leaving her new class for half a day twice a term to focus on her own professional development however with her group negotiating areas for focused support she found the sessions of great value.
Rachel’s journey didn’t end there. Having only just concluded her teaching studies she decided to enrol in a Masters of Theology.
“I converted to Catholicism a couple of years ago, having enrolled my daughter in a Catholic school. It has been a whole journey – a career change, a faith journey – the whole thing,” she said
“I believe the more we understand, the better the gifts we give the children. It is a big family commitment but a very worthwhile one.”