Lasallian connection inspires teachers to work in the Kimberley

07 Mar 2024

By Contributor

CEWA Executive Director, Wayne Bull, far right, with former students Aaron Haji-Ali and Zoe Sparkes and Brother Berkeley Fitzhardinge. Photo: Supplied.

Three generations of Lasallians experienced a joyful reunion at the Broome Commissioning Mass on 22 January.

Former La Salle Principal and La Salle class of 1972 graduate, and now CEWA Executive Director, Wayne Bull, with former students Aaron Haji-Ali and Zoe Sparkes, now working at St Mary’s College, Broome, were commissioned. Joining them was Brother Berkeley Fitzhardinge, former principal of La Salle.

Crediting their own Catholic education as the reason behind their passion and drive to work in the Kimberley, Year 4 teacher Zoe said her education at La Salle College heavily influenced her decision to return to CEWA and particularly to the Kimberley to continue her teaching journey.

“It was whilst at La Salle College that I was selected to go to Balgo to work with students in community and be immersed in their culture,” Zoe said.

Zoe Sparks, far right, with colleagues at St Mary’s College Primary Campus. Photo: Supplied.

“The values of my education at La Salle College can also be transferred to my role as a teacher at St Mary’s College as the messages through both schools follow similar paths and vision for their students.

“Giving back now as a teacher at St Mary’s College Broome really highlights giving back to the community as I am whole heartily devoted to my students and improving their education and faith,” she continued.

The pair recalled the joyful reunion.

“At one of our induction sessions, we were told that our Executive Director Wayne Bull would be joining us for the Commissioning Mass.

“I immediately recognised that it was the same Mr Bull who was my school principal from year 7 to year 12 at La Salle College. After the mass, I went up to him and he immediately remembered that I was a former student from 7 years prior,” Zoe said.

Three generations of Lasallians experienced a joyful reunion at the Broome Commissioning Mass on 22 January. Photo: Supplied.

“It was heart-warming to recall those memories all these years later, even getting a glimpse one of the ties that Mr Bull was so famous for wearing. After talking for a little while, Mr Bull introduced Br Berkeley who was his principal at La Salle as well. It was a special moment that we all shared because of the chance of us all being together in one place at the same time.”

Aaron added it was a surreal and ‘full circle moment’ to have his former principal and his principal present to welcome him and his colleagues to their new roles.

“Having graduated from a Catholic school, supported through my studies as a CEWA Cadet and now in my current role as a Teacher in a Catholic school, it is a way that I am able to contribute in giving back to the education system and the Catholic community,” Aaron said.

“The Lasallian values are certainly something that I can bring with me and can be used in my current role at St Mary’s.

Having been born in Broome and with family connections there, working in the Kimberley was always a goal of Aaron’s. Photo: Supplied.

“It was there that I was able to not only learn and grow as a student but also further develop my passion for Indigenous Education through numerous activities including an immersion to the remote community of Balgo.

“This passion for combining Indigenous perspectives, education and religion is something that I have drawn from my time at La Salle and am bringing with me to St Mary’s.”

Having been born in Broome and with family connections there, working in the Kimberley was always a goal of Aaron’s. The Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Religion teacher said he intends to utilise as much local knowledge to ensure that students are engaging in meaningful tasks that are both relevant and important.

“For example, incorporating local practice and Indigenous perspectives into the curriculum ensures the continuity of culture within our schools. I hope to be a role model for Indigenous students and be someone that they can relate to and feel comfortable learning from.”

St Mary’s Broome Year 4 teacher Zoe Sparks said her education at La Salle College heavily influenced her decision to return to CEWA and particularly to the Kimberley to continue her teaching journey. Photo: Supplied.

Zoe is looking forward to working with her colleagues to bridge the gaps within learning and scaffolding students to achieve their best while at school and beyond.

“My goals for the near future would be to continue learning more about the Aboriginal culture in the Kimberley and learn more from those around me. I am learning diverse ways of accommodating students’ needs and how I can be the best teacher for my new students. I hope to be in the Kimberley for years to be a strong member of the CEWA teaching community.”