Introducing Tia O’Carroll, PDHPE teacher

As our Remote Learning Program started up again after the Easter break, students in Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 noticed an unfamiliar face pop up on their screens at PDHPE time. It couldn’t have been a hacker – she was wearing a Santa Sabina sports shirt…It was Tia O’Carroll, our new PDHPE teacher!

New to Santa this term, Ms O’Carroll comes to us as a recent University of Sydney graduate who has nonetheless gained broad experience from teaching in diverse locations for the last three years. From the tough environment of Nagle College Blacktown where she was inspired by refugees who had endured so much to the regional fresh air of Red Bend Catholic College in Forbes, Ms O’Carroll is thrilled to have arrived at a school where a holistic education is not only available but also so highly valued.

‘Santa Sabina College has always been a bit of a goal really’, she says. The combination of a top sport program on campus, the social justice ethic and academic results have all played their part.

For Ms O’Carroll it’s Santa’s combination of education and personal development – the latter including wellbeing and social justice programs – that make up a great school experience. As a teacher of PDHPE this combination, the rounding out of a person, is especially important. ‘There’s so much more to a person than just being smart’, she says.

Growing up in Newcastle and attending a school without such a holistic approach, Ms O’Carroll took matters into her own hands. As a dedicated young sportswoman, in programs outside of school, she gained an elite athletics scholarship which brought her to Sydney where her speciality was the 400 m. Her current interest, shared with her father, is Touch Football.

Ms O’Carroll’s passion for social justice causes saw her recently join the program India Global Vision and spend her summer holidays volunteering in a remote region of India, teaching English and running empowerment programs for women.

She hopes to create a special environment in her PE classes for Years 8, 9 and 10 and her IB Sport and Exercise classes for Year 11. She loves teaching the content of these courses but she also cares deeply for children and would like her students to feel so supported that they will place their trust in her and come to her for guidance.  

‘I just want to help other people be happy’, she says. She also wants her students to jump in to try new sports just to have fun without taking it too seriously. She claims to be ‘not the most coordinated PE teacher but I love it’. Can this really be true of someone who has competed nationally in athletics?

Ms O’Carroll was motivated to become a PDHPE teacher because of two reasons. She always loved sport and her own father’s experiences growing up had touched her deeply.

‘My dad didn’t have a supportive background and I wished I could have been a teacher or role model in his life to give him what he missed out on’.

While holidays are spent pursuing social justice, Ms O’Carroll’s weekends are spent outdoors walking her dog and, when there’s no pandemic, swimming, kayaking, fishing, exploring, visiting her family in Newcastle and heading to her partner’s family farm in regional NSW. And when Santa’s weekend sport programs return to normal she’s ‘super pumped’ to get involved as a coach.