Nurturing young scientists through representation – International Women’s Day 2022John Blois
Trinity Science Teacher Maryellen Ottaway started her Science career as a Research and Development Chemist, working with big name companies such as Johnson & Johnson. But having noticed a general lack of female Science graduates, and with education running in her family, Maryellen pursued a career in teaching not only to inspire future scientists, but also to provide students with an example of female representation in the industry.
Ms Ottaway began her teaching career at St Vincent’s College in Potts Point in 1997 teaching Science, Chemistry, and Physics before moving to Trinity in 2001 where she teaches Science and both HSC and IB Chemistry.
“When I first came to Trinity, I was very privileged to have been mentored by some highly experienced and professional colleagues,” Ms Ottaway says.
“Their ability to share their breadth of knowledge on pedagogy was so inspiring to me as a new teacher. The encouragement to try new things and reflect on them as teaching practice allowed me to grow in confidence and skills.”
This encouragement to constantly learn and adapt is something that Ms Ottaway has sought to pass on through active involvement in the growth of teaching and assessment practices to further enhance the students’ development.
“The idea that as teachers we are constantly learning is vital to share and model with both students and colleagues. We can all learn from each other – the moment that we think we know it all, is the day we stop growing as a person and as an educator.”
Ms Ottaway describes working with students and witnessing their lightbulb moments as one of the most rewarding feelings. She finds it especially encouraging to see students’ journey to that moment of understanding, and says that being a part of their everyday achievement and growth is what motivates her.
While teaching Science has been a big part of Ms Ottaway’s journey at Trinity over the past 21 years, she is also proud to have been one of the original Middle School Housemasters, particularly as it was one of the first instances of a woman being given a leadership role in the pastoral life of the School.
“There has been a continued increase in the number of female teachers at Trinity,” Ms Ottaway said.
“I think there were only two of us when I started. Again, this helps to provide a better example of real-life employment to the boys, and helps to remove the old idea of a scientist being a male with crazy hair and glasses with pens in their pockets!”