The family calling
Laura Bruty did not have to look far for role models when pursuing her dream of becoming a primary school teacher. With four of her older siblings already educators, they inspired her to join the teaching profession.
“I did try to look at different things; I didn’t want to be seen as just following them, but nothing else really appealed,” Laura said.
“Do you call it a calling? It was just about doing something you are passionate about. If you do something you are passionate about, then you enjoy it.”
Teaching is not the only thing Laura has in common with siblings Tanya Kehoe, Claire White, Shane Bruty, and Hannah Knight: they all studied at ACU’s Ballarat Campus.
Attending the campus allowed Laura to achieve the qualifications she wanted, access nearby support programs, and make friends locally, all while continuing to live on her family’s much-loved cattle and crop farm.
“I’m really close to my family, so I wanted to stay in Ballarat. I had a really supportive bunch of lecturers and I still keep in touch with the people I went to uni with,” she said.
“There was a great support system in place for graduates through the Catholic Education Office of Ballarat where we could catch up with other new teachers.”
In addition to teaching at a range of local schools, Laura and her teaching siblings have also held several positions at ACU including being members and past presidents of local and national student associations and volunteer groups. She also currently works in campus ministry at Ballarat.
Guidance and support
The close-knit family of educators is a source of great support for Laura, who this year started her teaching career at Sienna Catholic Primary School in Ballarat.
“I call them all the time and ask them for advice. I feel lucky being the youngest because I get to learn from them – they’ve all made quite a big impact,” the 22-year-old said.
Four of eight kids - Tanya Kehoe, Shane Bruty, Hannah Knight and Laura. Photo courtesy of Lachlan Bence from The Courier.
“I look up to them. They’re also proud of me and they love the fact they can give me advice.
“We have lots of conversations around how to meet students’ social and emotional needs as well as learning needs.”
The recent graduate also has the support of brothers Darren and Jason, and sister Andrea, who is joining the ranks by studying early childhood education. Not to mention Shane being married to a teacher, and Darren being engaged to one.
Laura paid tribute to her mother Jenny and late father Geoff for their guidance.
“We are a strong Catholic family and growing up, mum and dad always instilled in us to do something that helps the world and makes it a better place,” she said. “If you are lucky enough to be in a position to give something, you should.”
Laura’s mother said she and her late husband were proud of everything their eight children had achieved.
After finishing her studies and working as a learning support officer for two years, Laura said it felt surreal to have her own class of Year 3 and 4 students.
“I have the responsibility for helping them to learn. I know it’s an important job and I’m making an impact,” she said.
“I love it. I feel really lucky with the school I’ve started in and the class I’ve got; they’re just beautiful kids.”
She said it had been a challenging start to the profession amid the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.
“It’s a tough job, but it’s so rewarding,” she said.
“Even when you get bogged down, you remember what you are there for. You realise how lucky you are to be responsible for teaching and caring for the kids.”
Laura said she was also enjoying opportunities to improve her practice.
“You realise you are a learner as well. You are learning to be a better teacher every day,” she said.
Interested in a career in teaching? Explore your options at ACU.