Every student can learn if you can just find the thing that drives them.
That is the deeply held belief of Lorraine Gaunt, who got her first teaching job in 1990 and has been in education for 32 years.
Lorraine, 54, was a teacher at Beaudesert High for about 12 years from 1996 before setting up the Special Education Unit at Flagstone Community College in 2008 and then working in universities.
In the midst of working and raising her children, Lorraine also completed her Masters and PhD, focusing on mathematics and numeracy for adults with Intellectual Disability.
These days, she teaches the teachers as a lecturer in education in maths and special education at Charles Sturt University.
“I tell my teaching students, when you see that ‘ohhh I’ve got it’ from your students, that’s what floats your boat as a teacher,” she said.
“All students can learn; you’ve just got to find that thing that drives them.”
When Lorraine and husband Adrian’s first son Christopher was born with Downs syndrome, special education felt like a natural path for Lorraine.
“I think I’d have to say Christopher is probably the driving force of why I do what I do both in teaching and research, and just seeing the change in community attitudes from when he was born to now,” she said.
“There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a much more inclusive and accepting community now, in general, than it used to be. One of my biggest beliefs is the access to education for everybody, and 30 years ago when Christopher was born, expecting that he would go to the local primary school was not a given.”
These days, Christopher has a team of support workers and delivers the Beaudesert Bulletin. “He’s just brilliant, he gets in and does the job, delivers it and has a chat with people along the way. He’s just part of the community and that’s really important,” said Lorraine.
Lorraine, Adrian and young Christopher moved here in 1994 for the space and the quiet.
The walls of their family home are now filled with pictures of the life they’ve built here, centred around their family.
Christopher, now 30, Daniel, 25 and Stephanie, 23 all went to Beaudesert State School, they were all in the Beaudesert Swimming Club and Stephanie remains involved with Beaudance Academy.
They remain a tight knit family – Christopher lives at home with Adrian, Lorraine and Oakley the dog and Daniel and Stephanie both live nearby.
“I see Christopher’s positive impact on our other two children, as well, in how they approach life and how they automatically just accept people for who they are and include them in whatever it is they’re doing – it’s nothing unusual and just comes naturally to them,” she said.