Real and relevant learning
Ms Rachele Rugiero, our Gifted Education Coordinator, believes that catering for the needs of individual learners is not just a job, but a vocation.
‘I have a passion for what I do; I really believe in it’, she says.
Ms Rugiero has taught Science at Santa Sabina College for more than 16 years. Since last year she has coordinated the many activities we provide our particularly talented students, across all disciplines, who need enrichment within and outside the classroom.
‘In 2017 we embarked on an important joint research project with the University of Sydney – “tea composition”. Some of our Year 7 and 8 talented students carried out experiments testing the quality of our soils as part of a bigger global study on investigating climate change. The soil samples from Santa are currently being analysed by university research scientists.’
This is real and relevant learning at its best!
As a Science student majoring in Medical Sciences at Sydney University, Ms Rugiero was offered Honours in Cardiovascular Physiology but although she loved laboratory work she realised that her people skills needed some expression.
Teacher training via a DipEd followed her science degree and ‘once I had a taste for teaching, I never looked back’, she says.
‘Being immersed in an environment where I was working with people all the time was exactly what I wanted’.
A tough practicum in a difficult school sealed the deal for her, confirming her ability to connect with students. ‘It was the sort of school where if you could form a relationship with the students there you could do it anywhere’.
In her day to day work Ms Rugiero is forging relationships with the community as well as with the students.
‘In my role I am constantly seeking to establish and strengthen relationships between our gifted learners and the community whether it be ex-students as mentors to students contemplating entering a particular field or using the expertise of generous Santa parents to create diverse learning opportunities either at school or beyond.’
A parent of a former student, Ms Rugiero taps into the skills of parents who are university research scientists and academics, industry professionals from technology to astrophysics to writers and poets.
‘Even creative collaboration and philosophy days with other local schools help students meet other like-minded students. We staged many of these in 2017.
‘Recently our Year 8 gifted “tech girl coders” presented their animal conservation app at an International Women’s Day conference to a room full of industry professionals from the company Accenture’, she says proudly.
Her sights are set on a Masters in Gifted Education one day, but in the meantime Mrs Rugiero keeps redeveloping herself, taking advantage of the professional development offered at Santa. ‘Santa invests a lot into developing pedagogy in its teachers – it’s a trademark of this school’.
Ms Rugiero believes in enriching her life through personal development too. She recently qualified for membership of Sydney Bushwalkers, a serious bushwalking club with a long history and a 12-month qualifying period of overnight hikes with heavy backpacks. As Ms Rugiero has tweeted, ‘advances in Science, soothed by nature’.