‘Country girl’ says best practice can save regional school
ZOE Stewart always knew she wanted to be a teacher, even as a young child growing up in Barcaldine.
"It was just a passion... it was a calling that I just knew I was going to be a teacher," Mrs Stewart said.
The self-professed "country girl" started her teaching career in Longreach, after graduating from university.
It's a career that took her from there to Clermont and onto Mitchell, and now has led her to Laidley where she has taken on the role of new principal at St Mary's Catholic Primary School.
Even in her short time at the school, Mrs Stewart already feels at home.
"I love it. It's so good," she said.
"It's really got that community feel to it. We've got amazing kids, so it's been a really good journey."
And it's not just the school that has made an impression, with the township also welcoming her.
"The move here has been really good for me - I really do like the country feel and I think Laidley does provide that for you," she said.
While she wanted to bring new ideas to the school, she also wanted to maintain the sense of community it had while working to achieve success with all the students at the school.
Despite concerns country schools can't offer the same level of education as their city counterparts, it's an argument Mrs Stewart wholeheartedly disagrees with.
"City schools can provide different things because they have different resources," she said.
"But I guess when you talk about academic success for students I think that's a totally different ballgame … any school can have quality education if you have best practice.
"I really don't think that it's about a city versus country school in the way of providing academic success."
With a long year ahead, she said she was excited to be a part of both the school and the community and looked forward to getting to know the town.
"I think it's really important that people know that I'm here, I'm in the community, and I really want to be a part of the community," she said.