ET Australia’s annual student & community magazine.
From Way out West Meet the Teacher – Jasmyn Du Plessis. From South Africa to the scenic Central Coast and everywhere in between. Whenever someone asks me where I‘m from, I never know how to answer the question. I was born in Pretoria, South-Africa in the season of spring and was named after the jasmine flowers blossoming at the time. We moved east closer to the coast when I was four. I grew up in a different environment than most people. My school was covered in high barbed wire fences, not to keep students in but to keep us safe and unwanted guests out. Our pets were police trained German Shepherds and a cute little Vervet monkey called “Aapie”. My Dad has always been an adventurous person and I certainly inherited his genes. My brother and I were taken spear fishing, jet skiing and deep sea fishing in Mozambique and on paragliding adventures early on in life. I have swum with a whale shark, dolphins, sea lions and touched a whale in the wild. My brother and I would visit my cousins on their game farm and by the age of 10 we would take the land rover and hunt small game without adult supervision. One of my dad’s favourite games was to get very close to the hippopotamus bulls and quickly speed off when they began to charge. Growing up in Africa was an amazing experience! I had to leave my country of birth by the age of 12 as the stability and safety of my hometown began to crumble. My Dad could see there was no future for my siblings and I if we were to stay. I am now proud and happy to call Australia home, however, I will always feel a deep emotional connection with Africa. We arrived in Australia in 1998, bought a car in Perth and drove the 2200km to a small little town in regional South- Australia called Wudinna. Leaving all of our family behind and starting in a new country where we had tp speak a new language was made so much easier thanks to the wonderful people who were now to become Jasmyn and her ETASC colleagues My Dad has always been an adventurous person and I certainly inherited his genes. My brother and I were taken spear fishing, jet skiing and deep sea fishing in Mozambique... Jasmyn handing out RoSA awards I had to leave my country of birth by the age of 12 as the stability and safety of my hometown began to crumble. our support and extended family. The town organised a party for us with large banners saying ‘Welcome”. They would repeat this kind gesture on our return from South-Africa after our yearly holidays as my dad was the only doctor within 250 km and the first they had stay in 5 years. During this time there were two occasions where we were given short notice to vacate the country due to visa constraints. The town respectfully told the immigration department they would block the only major highway connecting West to East with their tractors if we were not allowed to stay. Thanks Wudinna! The people of that town were a large part of my upbringing and have contributed to the person I am today. My Year 7 teacher would repeatedly tell me “you need to become a teacher” so that’s what I did. From year 9 I went to boarding school in the Barossa Valley. Dad was known as the flying doctor and on route to visiting other remote towns would drop me at school. Although difficult to be away from home I enjoyed being in a school where my academic and sporting abilities were fully engaged. My parents 4
then moved to a larger town called Whyalla and again I had to move schools to complete year 11 and 12. Although I excelled in my sport, I was bullied and isolated by other students due to my nationality. Whyalla was not as welcoming to outsiders and shortly afterwards we made the move to the Central Coast, NSW. Unfortunately as I was in my final year at school, I had to stay behind. Due to my excellent skill of avoiding school my grades dropped significantly. However, I still managed to enroll in a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education double degree. I learnt in those last two years what a significant difference good teachers make. I had a gap year and worked as a medical receptionist on the Central Coast and at the start of 2006 I packed up my little car and drove to Adelaide to attend Flinders University. I loved being able to spread my wings and have the ability to test boundaries. I knew from my first school practical experience that I had chosen the right degree. I enjoyed interacting with students, watching them learn and grow. My first teaching job was in a small town in the Flinders Ranges and recently engaged I had to live 250km away from my fiancé, I put many kilometers on my car in that year. I loved working in the country, the people were friendly and very supportive. That first year was a big one for me; I was married in October 2011 and expecting my first child by November. We then decided that it was time to move back to NSW as I wanted the support of my family. With two cars and a small truck packed to the roof we relocated to Lake Macquarie. I went back to working as a Medical Receptionist trying to find work while pregnant. Jasmyn and ETASC English teacher Kim enjoying the ETASC Taronga Zoo excursion late last year I eventually got a temporary contract at Glendale High and was ecstatic to be back in the classroom. It had taken a year and a half to find a position as a teacher. When my contract expired I was fortunate to land the Mathematics teaching position here at ETASC. My first year, which included a brief break for the birth of my second daughter, was a positive experience and I knew that this was where I was meant to be. I had never worked so hard in my whole life, but also never enjoyed my job as much. The support of my fellow ETASC colleagues is like none I have ever experienced, and the relationships I have built with students will stay with me forever. When the role for Student Development Coordinator became available I was very quick to apply. As well as being important for my own career path, I am greatly looking forward to guiding students through their Pathway Plans and ensuring they are well taken care of when they leave us. I am proud to be part of a team that are so dedicated to changing young people’s lives for the better and I look forward to the future development of our school. Jasmyn with her two daughters The support of my fellow ETASC colleagues is like none I have ever experienced... Jasmyn passing on feedback to Year 10 students 5