Life after Radford with Tilly Stanier (Class of 2020)
Since mid-January, Tilly Stanier (Class of 2020) has been living on a cattle station 90km south of Winton in remote western Queensland. Recently she re-connected with Assistant Principal Claire Melloy and shared the challenges and rewards of her decision to head to the outback.
After leaving Radford, Tilly was planning a great adventure in Europe, as well as volunteering in Africa. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 she had to come up with a different plan. Tilly sought Claire Melloy’s advice and decided to become a governess in rural Australia.
‘As a governess my role is to teach two kids, Stella (six) and James (nine), through distance education. I’m normally woken before dawn to the sound of James mustering his 10 pet sheep into the yards on his motorbike, followed by bright-eyed and bushy tailed Stella chasing the straggling sheep in her thongs.’
As you can imagine, school in the outback is extremely different to conventional schooling. Stella and James complete one or two hours of on-air lessons a day through the Longreach School of the Air and Tilly teaches the rest.
‘As a young adult with little to no teaching experience it can be tough, (especially when you have to relearn your times tables!) I am a Science, Maths, English, Drama, PE and Art teacher all in one, as well as a cook extraordinaire at lunch.’
For these children, Tilly adds, the separation between home and school is little to none, which can affect their attention, especially when there is something going on outside on the property. She has also found that being a governess of a multi-age classroom can be overwhelming, as the children have different skill sets and capabilities, strengths, weaknesses and curriculums. However, she discovered that the beauty of this role and distance education is that you know exactly what the capabilities of each child are, and consequently you can cater their education to their needs.
Tilly’s teaching ends at 3pm, when the children leave the classroom as fast as they can. It is not uncommon for them to jump on their motorbikes or horses and tear around paddocks and build fences, as well as ‘lovingly terrorise’ the family pets.
‘As a young person, life on a remote cattle station is unpredictable and a lot of fun. In the first five months I have driven head-on into a cyclone, been woken up to a joey being thrown on me, caught a flight with the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Mount Isa for a false appendicitis, been sold in a bachelorette auction, seen Daryl Braithwaite play at an outback concert, and think nothing of driving six hours when I get a hankering for a Zambrero burrito. (And each time it was totally worth it.)”
Further, Tilly describes living in rural Queensland as spontaneous and full of adventures – one minute she could be teaching in the classroom, and the next she is at the races, a camp draft, mustering cattle, digging for opals or swimming in gorgeous national parks!
She also adds:
‘I have travelled all over Queensland, putting a whopping 25,000km on my car in five months. And despite the bottom of my car falling off and numerous flat tyres, it has all been worth it. It has taught me how to be strong and independent, and to not freak out when I am sitting in the middle of nowhere, in a sweltering car, waiting for help to arrive. Life in a small country community and on a rural cattle station is something that will be hard to leave, if I ever do!’
When reminiscing about her school days, Tilly believes she would not be where she is if not for her education at Radford College.
‘At times I found it hard and stressful, and all I wanted to do was to graduate. But on reflection, if I had not been challenged, I would not be where I am today. I have surmised that Radford teaches you ambition, so use it! Find something that excites you and that you are passionate about and see where it leads; however outlandish and radical it is.”
Tilly’s advice to current students:
- When you find something, you love doing, or want to do, and set your mind to it, nothing will stop you. So, stand up, move your legs and open the doors you want to.
- At Radford you are extremely privileged. In light of this, I encourage you to take up all the opportunities you are offered because they will not be given out so freely in the outside world.
- Do not learn about the world through a screen, get out there and experience it for yourself! In doing so, make sure to stay open-minded and resilient when faced with new situations, because change is the best thing you can do for your brain.
- Finally, I strongly encourage you to have fun in school! You will not remember your year 10 physics mark or what maths class you were in, but you will remember the adventures, friendships and fun you had.