When there were big bucks to be made in the mining industry, Warwick Senior High School’s 2018 WA Education Awards Beginning Teacher of the Year finalist Ben Garnaut happened upon a nugget of wisdom that changed his life.

Ben, who had previously worked as a gold geologist for a mining company, was struck by a rich vein of self-reflection – as a devoted husband and family man he did not want to spend his working life living in a donger in outback camps across our north west.

“Teaching had never been on my radar,” he said, looking comfortable in his classroom during a lunch break.

Humbled and even slightly embarrassed by the attention, he has never regretted his decision and believes it has brought him rich personal rewards.

Ben enjoys interacting and helping students discover their own nuggets of knowledge and wisdom.

“My parents were both teachers – dad was the Mid-West District Director and mum taught special needs students – so it seemed the right career move,” he said.

“Being a finalist is very humbling…there are so many other deserving people at Warwick. I am just one person in a great team.

 “I had my choice of schools and I chose Warwick because of Johnno (Science Head of Learning Area Graham Johnson),” he said.

“He has it structured so much better than elsewhere, I just wanted to work with and learn from him.”

As a Science teacher, Ben is very much involved in Warwick’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education approach.

“Teaching is great. Our role is to provide opportunities for students to learn, not just the information, but how to work together and how to be a natural leader. Employers are also looking for the interpersonal skills and this is what STEAM helps to deliver,” he said.

In nominating Ben for the award, Warwick recognised Ben’s role in revitalising the Physics program and many elements of the science curriculum; coordinating the school’s Science Club; leading significant science outreach/extension initiatives; and supporting students in their applications to attend State, National and International science enrichment programs. He has also relieved as the Head of Science for two months.

As a relative newcomer to teaching, Ben is still learning himself.

“It’s important to be honest with the kids and to listen to them,” he said. “If you’re faking it, they will know.

“At Warwick, we work closely together as teachers.”