Jack McPhee

Expedition Fellow: Plasticseas

I am currently a Science, Mathematics and STEM teacher at St Spyridon College (Sydney, NSW). In 2009, after completing my Bachelor of Science in 2008 (majoring in Environmental and Marine Science at the University of Newcastle), I commenced my Honours research on the ecological importance of mangrove and saltmarsh vegetation in marine environments, while simultaneously beginning my career as a University teacher for courses such as Biology and Statistics. By 2015, my Ph.D. project (also on ecological roles and functions of the marine environment) was well underway and my University teaching had extended to other courses such as Ecology, Environmental Science, Sustainable Resource Management, Microbiology, Education Science and Education Technology. It was towards the end of my Ph.D. that I came to the realization that, although scientific research was an important part of my life (e.g. conducting original studies and publishing my findings in the international literature), my true passion lay in the day to day teaching of science. Seeing the lightbulbs of my students switch on. Encouraging in-depth class discussions on traditional and contemporary scientific research and understandings. And feeling content with the fact that a new generation of scientists had a sound scientific knowledge and skill set, along with an awareness of the delicate beauty of our planet. It was also this realisation that led me to make the decision to “teach for life,” in addition to “learning for life,” and so I commenced my Master of Teaching in 2015 (at the University of New South Wales) and made the switch from teaching University students to teaching our following generations – Secondary students.

For the past two years, I have been a full-time teacher at St Spyridon College, where I have been lucky enough to follow my passion for teaching and assisting teenage students in their learning and development of important scientific skills and knowledge. In collaboration with other staff and teachers, we are also implementing a series of environmental awareness campaigns with our students, such as partaking in “Plastic Free July,” introducing recycling bins into the playground and installing bicycle racks for students.