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People's Choice Awards 2020



Category: Trainee of the Year

Monique Burns

Monique BurnsQualification: Certificate III in Education Support
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: St Joseph's College Tweed Heads

“My traineeship helped me understand the differing needs of students with a disability and how these impact them socially, emotionally and physically. By better understanding the difficulties they face, I’m able to support them in an inclusive classroom environment. This opened my eyes to a whole new area of education I hope to pursue in the future.”


Monique undertook a Certificate III in Education Support at TAFE NSW as her supervisors at St Joseph’s College knew she’d be supporting a diverse range of students within a school sports environment.

Monique had the unique challenge of starting her traineeship after having graduated from Year 12 at St Joseph’s College the year before.

“My mentor Shannon was extremely supportive,” says Monique. “She helped me transition from being a student to being a staff member. It was challenging as I had to ensure a professional boundary was maintained with students who’d been in the years directly below me.”

Monique gained valuable insight into the logistics of coaching, organising and managing sporting teams as well as the day-to-day life of a teacher.

“The team trusted me to take on jobs that are critical to the running of the department,” says Monique. “This gave me confidence to tackle more challenging tasks. I’ve gained expertise in mediation between students and parents and how to sharpen my problem solving skills to ensure flexibility.”

Monique BurnsScott Thomson, St Joseph's College Principal, says the rapport Monique has built with her students displays maturity beyond her years.

“Her approach is highly professional,” says Scott. “She displays care and compassion when needed, but also commands respect. She is highly efficient and has enabled staff to concentrate on the important task of educating students instead of organising equipment, completing administration and maintaining logs. I cannot compliment, commend and endorse her work enough.”

Monique expertly organised St Josephs swimming and athletics carnivals coordinating permission slips, busses, training sessions, and trials for over 50 sporting events.

Monique trains and competes with Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club where she also coaches the Nippers. Surf Lifesaving Queensland recently commended her initiative in saving the life of a female swimmer.

Umpiring netball since the age of 13, Monique mentors younger umpires. She coaches St Joseph's junior netball team and is an assistant coach coordinator for her local netball club, Saints.

Confirming her commitment to a career in education and exhibiting superior organisational skills, Monique completed her first year of a Bachelor of Arts/Education (Primary/Secondary) at Southern Cross University while completing her Certificate III.

St Joseph’s are delighted to have employed her in a new full-time role.

“During the year I struggled with some personal challenges due to illness in my family,” says Monique. “The teachers I worked with treated me with respect, professionalism, care, and kindness during this difficult time. I’m grateful for their support and will endeavour to model these behaviours when I become a teacher in the future.”