Erin White’s career change pays off with excellence award


Erin White gave up a lucrative 12 year career in public affairs to become a high school English teacher.

As English Faculty Coordinator at St Mary MacKillop College’s Padua Campus, Erin is one of only two teachers in the ACT to have received an Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) ACT Growing in Leadership Award in 2024.

Growing in Leadership Awards recognise teachers in the early stages of their career who are making a significant contribution to education.

Erin joined St Mary MacKillop College as a graduate teacher in Term 4 of 2017. While this was her first teaching position, Erin is no stranger to Catholic Education Canberra Goulburn, having completed her final years of schooling at St Clare’s College, Griffith as a member of the Class of 2001.

Erin’s decision to become a secondary school English teacher was driven by a desire to help young people build strong communication skills.

When reflecting on her decision to change careers, Erin has no regrets.

‘Teaching for me is more than a job, it is a privilege to be in a position where you are able to instil a love for learning in students,’ she explained.

‘There are certainly challenges, and looking back as to why I chose to move on from 12 years in public affairs to teaching, it really comes down to the value that I have for education, and the fulfilment that teachers and students have when they see a student achieve something they may have thought out of reach.’

A champion of Catalyst, CECG’s evidence-based approach to teaching and learning, Erin describes herself as ‘a driver of change.’

Head of the Padua Campus, Jacklyn Bryant, agrees, saying:

‘Erin is a highly motivated, professional, and dedicated teacher who always strives to offer the students at the College with the best opportunities to learn and make academic progress.’

In nominating Erin for the award, Jacklyn described her as ‘an exemplary teacher of English at St Mary MacKillop College.

‘As the English Faculty Coordinator, she has taken an active leadership role in the implementation of Catalyst within her faculty. She has done this using a strategic approach, directing and supporting the collaborative creation of resources, classroom teaching and learning programs along with the translation of Rosenshine’s Principles into active and visible classroom practice,’ Jacklyn elaborated.

Erin’s passion for ensuring students are provided with the best opportunities to build effective communication skills extends beyond the classroom to her work with her peers, where the skills she cultivated in her previous profession are being well utilised.

She is proactive in sharing her knowledge and insights with staff in other faculties and, despite being relatively new to the teaching profession, has facilitated professional learning opportunities for teachers both within her school and across the system, enabling connections and influencing change.

Volunteering to co-present at the Sharing Best Practice professional learning day in September last year provided Erin with an opportunity to share her ideas for helping students to develop more effective communication skills with a broader audience.

Erin’s surprise at being singled out for her hard work, collegiality and commitment to improving the learning outcomes of students across the system was palpable.

‘I am very humbled by the recognition from both ACEL and my executives with this award,’ she said.

Erin’s dedication to continuing her mission to address literacy problems within her school and the broader community is unwavering.

‘What continues to drive my teaching practice is being able to help students to build their reading and writing skills,’ she said.

‘As a curriculum leader at the college, it is a privilege to work with an incredible group of teachers to help build our capacity to support our students.’

No doubt Erin’s students also feel privileged to have her as a teacher and faculty leader within their school.