To celebrate the teachers within our Catholic education system, Melbourne Catholic will be running a series of interviews with teachers from Catholic schools all around Melbourne. Ms Laura Mason teaches Religion and Drama and is Social Justice and Community Service Coordinator at Catholic Regional College Caroline Springs. We got in touch with Laura about COVID, and her teaching journey.

How has the COVID pandemic affected your work and your students?

It has been a hectic start to term 3. The pandemic has affected my work and consequently the students in two ways: As distance has dominated in these last few months with students studying at home, it has been hard to form deep relationships with my students. I have felt that there has been a very big gap in this aspect of my work life. The students have found it difficult to remain focused and on task, not surprisingly as there as so many distractions at home.

On a brighter note though, upon returning to school, students have come back with a new appreciation for the school setting and teachers in general.

What do you love most about teaching?

The students. I am in awe of the way they grasp new knowledge and how passionate they are about making a difference in our world.

Who were your favourite teachers growing up? Why?

My Drama teacher, Ms Melissa Latham. She showed me that teachers are human beings with very big hearts. She had so much faith in me and her encouragement was endless. My parents, they epitomise what it is to be good people, they never see a need without doing and always take time to reflect. And my husband, as he constantly teaches me patience and kindness.

Do you remember your first day in a classroom? What was going through your mind as a ‘newly minted’ teacher?

It was 2008 and I was a year 7 Home group teacher on an all-boys campus. I remember being so scared, but then I looked at their faces and realized that we were all in the same boat. I remember telling myself to take one day at a time. Twelve years on, I still tell myself that.

How has teaching RE or teaching in a Catholic school influenced your own faith journey?

It has strengthened my faith in a way I can’t fully describe. Teaching Religion has enabled me to revisit old understandings and discover new ones, it allows me to see how faith is understood through the eyes and hearts of our youth and it gives me endless opportunities to express my faith outwardly.

What appeals to you most about teaching in a Catholic school? What do you see as the ‘point of difference’ of Catholic education?

Values. We are graced with the values instilled in us through Jesus and it is through our faith, the Church and Catholic Education that we pass these values on to our Communities.

The theme for this year’s Catholic Education Week was ‘The future is listening’. How do you feel about the future of young people today?

After attending ACYF 2019 I can truly say that our young people are listening and they are ready to act. I think that we need to enable them with the tools to act upon what they hear and what they are feeling in their hearts.

Having been a teacher now for 12 years, what advice would you give to your younger self starting out in the system?

God gives you nothing you cannot handle.