11 October, 2022
Oakey State High School welcomes new deputies
Oakey State High School has welcomed its newest deputy principals, Emma Castles and Amy McAleer - two passionate and experienced teachers with strong ties to the Darling Downs.
Both deputies began their new positions at the school in early October and already have great things to say about the town and school community.
“It’s lovely here, the staff are beautiful and the students are fantastic,” Ms McAleer said.
“There’s a calmness about this place.
Ms Castles agreed and said she couldn’t ask for a more supportive and welcoming staff.
“You can feel how the staff want the best for their students here, that’s a real drawcard for coming here,” she said.
After spending the last eleven years at Centenary Heights State High School, she said it’s nice to be in a smaller school again.
“I used to work at a school in Nanango before Centenary, and rural schools just have a community feel to them.
“Because the kids live here in the town, the parents are very involved with the school.”
Ms McAleer, who worked alongside Ms Castles at Centenary Heights State High School, also has extensive experience working in rural schools and has travelled as far as Mackay to teach.
“Most of my career I’ve been on the Downs.
“The move to Oakey was about getting back to the Downs.”
Ms McAleer, who spent two and a half years working at a Brisbane school, said after noticing some big differences between rural and city schools she definitely wants to stay on the Downs for a while.
“As much as I really enjoyed that opportunity to work in metro, one of the things it really made me realise was the value that regional schools, as well as Toowoomba schools, have to offer students,” she said.
“Because the school is small, it is about knowing the individual child
opposed to larger schools where the identity of students just tends to
Ms McAleer said career progression in education is not a linear pathway.
“It’s all about the school’s needs,” she said.
Ms Castles agreed and said it’s more about the fit of the person to the school rather than how long you’ve been doing a job or where you’ve come from.
“All those things help because they build experience and knowledge, but it’s not the crux, it’s about the best fit.”
Both deputies said the only downside to their new positions is that they don’t get time to teach in their specialised subjects any more.
“I come from an arts background and taught drama, media and languages,” Ms McAleer said.
“We don’t really get to teach any more, not as much as we’d like!
“And I taught science, biology and maths classes,” Ms Castles said.
Ms McAleer, who is deputy to year 7s and 8s, and Ms Castles, who is deputy to year 9s, 10s and 12s, were both born and schooled on the Downs.
“I’m from Oakey originally and attended Oakey State School,” Ms Castles said.
“For me my drive is always family and community and my family and community are here, so I’ll stay within the region.
“I won’t go anywhere else.”
Ms McAleer grew up in Toowoomba but her father worked at Oakey army base.
“The Downs draws people back,” she said.
“It’s one of those places that if you grow up on the Downs, there’s always that sense of ‘I need to get back to the Downs’.
“I even felt that when I was in Mackay.
“As much as I loved it up there and loved the schools up there and the differences in society in Mackay, I was desperate to get back to the Downs.
“It didn’t matter where on the downs, I just needed to get back.
“It’s not necessarily a particular town, it’s about the uniqueness the region has as well.”