For many, leaving the office for the day guarantees a break from professional conversation.
Not for this family.
The Mepham siblings, Rhiannon, Lara and Tom all chose to become teachers, so sometimes the conversation comes back to school.
Rhiannon is a relief teacher at Berry St School and Tom works there full time.
Lara works part-time at St Brendan Primary School and Bourchier St.
“It’s not always the topic of conversation, but it comes down to it,” Lara said.
Rhiannon said she noticed similarities between her and Tom as they taught together at Berry St School.
“I think we share a calm demeanor,” she said.
Coincidentally, Lara and Rhiannon both married teachers, Matthew and Adam respectively, bringing the total number of educators in the family to five.
Adam is the acting principal of St Georges Rd Elementary School, while Matthew teaches at Bourchier St.
“I guess it’s hard sometimes to get out of this,” Matthew said with a laugh.
“We leave with the mindset that we are not going to talk about school, but we care a lot about our work.”
All five teachers agree that they have an almost collegiate support system, with so many family members.
“We have a lot of ideas from each other and we don’t care what happens at school,” Tom said.
No wonder the family is so devoted to the profession. A recent study conducted by Monash University found that 76% of respondents believed Australian teachers care about the well-being of their students.
The study, released on World Teachers’ Day on October 5, asked a nationally representative sample of people what they think of teachers.
Principal investigator of the Monash University study of Australian teachers’ perceptions, Dr Amanda Heffernan, said the results showed a better understanding of the impact of teachers in classrooms.
Some 74 percent of those surveyed agreed that teachers had an impact on their lives, which inspired the Mepham siblings and their partners to become teachers.
“The results of the study reflect a high level of public trust in Australian teachers and an awareness that teachers care about the well-being of their students,” said Dr Heffernan.
“I had positive and negative experiences in school, and I remembered the positive experiences I had with some teachers,” Adam said.
“I wanted to be a model. “
Tom completed an apprenticeship in electricity but was not satisfied with his job and therefore changed careers to become a teacher.
“Seeing my two older sisters as teachers made me decide to go to college,” he said.
As with other members of his family, Tom said he enjoys being a positive role model for his students at Berry St School.
Lara and Rhiannon said they always try to pay a little more attention to underprivileged students.
“For those with more difficult family lives, I try to show them that someone cares,” Lara said.
“When you can see that you’ve made a difference or helped them understand something and see their little faces light up, it’s really rewarding,” Rhiannon said.
The study reported that the increase in teacher appreciation was in response to the implementation of distance learning during the pandemic.