Vincentia High’s Sasha Joura is one of two history teachers in the state to win the 2019 Premier’s Teacher Scholarship.
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The annual award provides 20 teachers with $10,000 for a five-week study tour to anywhere in the world.
Ms Joura’s interest in maritime archaeology will take her to Western Australia, Denmark, Sweden and the UK in April.
Films and literature have thrust shipwreck history into popular culture. Ms Joura said it’s only natural her students are drawn to stories like those told in The Titanic, Pirates of the Caribbean and Treasure Island.
“Everyone loves a good shipwreck story,” Ms Joura said.
“Shipwrecks can work really well as a tool for engagement. They’re quite unique in terms of archaeology, they capture a single moment in time.
“Most other archaeology is the leftovers or rubbish of generation after generation. A shipwreck is a single moment captured on the ocean floor or a rocky seabed.”
Engaging a classroom of teenagers can be challenging for the best of teachers and so on her journey Ms Joura hopes to collate marine archaeology teaching resources for her students and history students across the state.
“The UK is a world leader in maritime archaeology,” she said.
“That’s where I’ll be spending the bulk of my time.
“There are some of the longest-running programs in the UK, big projects involving raising ships and a lot of organisations that deal with maritime archaeology informing the public about the importance of it.
“I’m looking for hands-on activities. I want to see how other organisations are doing that, how they use education as a tool in Denmark and Sweden, and especially in WA, which has a rich maritime history.”
Considering Vincentia’s place on the map and the area’s naval history, Ms Joura, who is in her eighth year of teaching at Vinnie High, sees it as the ideal place for students to learn about marine archaeology.
“We are lucky we’re here in Vincentia,” she said.
“We have a rich maritime history, there are local shipwrecks, we have the maritime museum nearby (in Huskisson).”
Her proposal for one of two Premier's History Teachers Association History Scholarships was to research and identify resources for teachers of all high school aged history students.
After a failed attempt to secure the coveted scholarship last year, Ms Joura said she used the feedback to tinker with her application, and “got them (selectors) hook, line and sinker”.
She attended a presentation at the Mint in Sydney, where she met Premier Gladys Berejiklian and fellow award winner Michael Street, who will use the scholarship to research the Salem witch trials.
The new history syllabus allows for teachers to develop their own case studies, and it is more than likely whatever Ms Joura develops will to be used across NSW.
She keenly awaits the adventure.
“To be able to study something that’s of particular interest to me, as well as students, is very satisfying,” Ms Joura said.
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