Spotlight on Siena Staff is an ongoing series of short videos and articles capturing the reflections, motivations and advice from some of our amazing Siena College staff. Today, we interview Director of Students, Minna Jewell on her teaching journey and her passion for enhancing students' growth; academically, emotionally and socially.
How did you get involved in teaching/working as an educator? What do you love most about teaching/working as an educator?
I always knew I wanted to work with adolescents – they energise me. The adolescent stage is a really interesting time for both personal and community development. The way that adults respond to adolescents will influence what sort of individuals they become in the future – what they will stand for, how they will treat one another, what they will value. As adults, we have the responsibility to get this right for each individual, but also collectively for future generations.
How do you feel about the future of young people today?
Excited! Being young is all about facing challenges and creating spaces for development. They have faced some big global challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change – on both of these frontiers, young people have been strong agents of change and progress. They have platforms available to them that allow them to be inherently positive influences on their generations, and the ones to follow.
Where did you study / have you completed any further study since your Bachelor's degree?
I have a double Bachelor's Degree (Science and Education) from Deakin University and I also completed my Master's Degree in Education (Student Wellbeing) with Australian Catholic University in 2019.
I would really like to complete a Doctor of Philosophy at some point!
How has teaching/working in a Catholic single sex school influenced your own faith journey?
I grew up in a household that did not identify as religious. I was always taught to be respectful of all faiths and faith dialogues. Working in a Catholic context has allowed me to explore the Catholic Social Teaching Principles, which I feel are applicable to all persons, regardless of their faith (if any). Showing dignity and respect to others, as well as taking care of our common home, Earth, are pillars which I identity with, on how to live a just and fair life.
Do you remember your first day at work? What was going through your mind as a ‘newly minted’ educator?
Yes, very well. I actually had a ‘six on’ teaching day – a day without a free period of time. I remembered feeling like I had really been thrown in the deep end. I also remembered closing the door after my final class for the day and just exhaling – I had survived!
Things you would say to a parent who is looking for a secondary school for their child.
Look for a school that aligns with your values as a family and as parents. The right school will be one in which you can work in collaboration with school teachers and leaders to support your child’s growth; academically, emotionally and socially. I would also encourage giving your child agency in the decision. After all, it is where they are going to be spending the next six years, not you!