This article was originally published in the fall 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Middle school art teacher Elizabeth Saltos headed to Australia this past summer for Harker’s annual teacher exchange with St. Stephen’s College, a PK-12 school located on the Gold Coast in the Australian province of Queensland. Her trip started in Sydney, where she visited the Royal Botanic Gardens, rode the Manly Ferry for a scenic view of the city and went kayak- ing at Sydney Harbor. Later, she traveled to Cairns to go snorkeling and kayaking at the famous Great Barrier Reef, calling the experience “a big bucket list highlight.”
After visiting Michaelmas Cay and Fitzroy Island, Saltos boarded a plane to Brisbane and rode a train to the Gold Coast suburb of Coomera. There, she stayed at the home of St. Stephen’s College headmaster Jamie Dorrington.
During her time teaching at St. Stephen’s, Saltos worked in the school’s visual arts department, teaching blind modeling in clay, doing clay relief projects and teaching grade 10 students about cubist perspective. She also gave presentations on her own work to grades 11 and 12, and collaborated with students of St. Stephen’s art department chair, Samantha Reynolds, to create a silk-screen.
Saltos said that she found the grading process at Australian schools to be very unique. “The school awards a grade and then the students submit their work to a panel of educators statewide and these professionals award a grade,” she said. “The two grades are then averaged and this is the grade looked at for entrance into university.”