Diversity of roles within a teaching career

04 Dec 2023

Senior Education Officer Shannon Brehony

Shannon Brehony

Senior Education Officer, NSW Department of Education
Bachelor of Arts and
Master of Teaching (Primary), Western Sydney University
Graduated in 2017

Shannon Brehony didn’t always know she wanted to become a teacher. Even as a Year 12 student, she was undecided and tossed back and forth between teaching, law and psychology.

To keep her options open, Shannon initially completed a Bachelor of Arts, which gave her a wide range of subject areas to choose from. Shannon majored in psychology and while she was studying she began working casually as a teacher's aide. Working with students, Shannon was able to see the impact she could have, inspiring her to enrol in and complete a Master of Teaching (Primary) at Western Sydney University.

'I always knew I wanted to embark on a career path where I could help create a better world. Choosing a career in teaching meant I could be someone who fostered the next generation of minds.'

While completing her Master of Teaching, Shannon completed two professional placements at public schools in Western Sydney. Putting theory into practice within the classroom was an invaluable experience and she was supported along the way by a teacher mentor who provided encouraging feedback and advice.

Career progression as a teacher

After graduating, Shannon worked in a casual and temporary capacity before gaining a permanent position with the NSW Department of Education.

‘Teaching is a profession that has opened a number of doors both personally and professionally for me,’ says Shannon. Working for the department, Shannon taught an opportunity class catering for academically gifted Year 5 and 6 students with high potential.

It was amazing to help these students unlock their potential and take their learning to new heights.

Shannon set her sights on expanding her experience and pursued leadership roles within the school. As a member of the school executive team, she supported student learning outcomes and helped to deliver professional learning to staff on mathematics, digital technologies, and high potential and gifted education.

‘Pursuing leadership allowed me to collaborate on the strategic direction of the school as a whole. I loved being part of a team and having input on decisions that were whole-school focused. Leadership at a school level allowed me to mentor beginning teachers and share knowledge about curriculum and evidence-informed practice.’

Education roles beyond the classroom

Shannon’s next role took her beyond the classroom. She successfully applied for a position within the support staff sector of the NSW Department of Education as a Senior Education Officer.

‘I work alongside the Teach NSW team to support pre-service teachers in accessing a range of scholarship and employment opportunities offered by the NSW Department of Education,’ she says.

One of her key projects has been to lead the Beyond the Line Program that supports second- and third-year Bachelor of Education and Master of Teaching students to travel with the department on an expenses-paid, week-long study tour to experience teaching at selected regional, rural and remote NSW public schools.

‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be leading a team that provides such a valuable and life-changing experience to pre-service teachers,’ says Shannon.

‘The various roles I have undertaken within the department have not only allowed me to make a difference in the lives of so many young people at a classroom level, but I have been able to achieve personal goals and have an impact on change at a school-wide level and now at an external stakeholder level.’

Thinking about a career in teaching?

If you are someone who enjoys fulfilling work where you feel you are making a daily difference, then Shannon thinks teaching is most definitely for you!

An initial teacher education degree can open the door to a variety of roles, including:

  • primary or secondary school teacher with the NSW Department of Education: There are a wide variety of school settings you can work in, such as central, community, selective, hospital, single-sex, sporting, agricultural and schools for specific purposes.
  • leadership roles within NSW public schools: Throughout your career you will have the opportunity to apply for positions such as assistant principal or head teacher and lead teaching and learning practices within a stage group or key learning area. From there you can progress to higher level school management positions such as deputy principal, principal and executive principal roles.

Benefits of a teaching career (plus how to get paid to study)