Last month, upper school theater teacher Jeffrey Draper visited Australia as this year’s exchange teacher to St. Stephen’s College in Coomera, Queensland, located on the Gold Coast. Draper, who was notified of the opportunity by global education director Jennifer Walrod, said “[I’ve] always wanted to visit Australia and I’ve enjoyed having visitors from St. Stephen’s as guests in my classroom over the years.”
Draper spent much of his time at St. Stephen’s observing classes and noticed some similarities between the school and Harker, such as its record for academic achievements and high-quality extracurricular programs. “Where they have a house system as [Harker’s] middle school does, Harker’s upper school chooses to have competitions by class instead,” said Draper, who also noted that students at St. Stephen’s wear uniforms across all grade levels, and that its location in a tropical climate brings with it an array of birds whose calls make a nice soundtrack to the “very lush, green campus.”
Draper also appreciated St. Stephen’s emphasis on group collaboration, noting that a floor in one of the school’s central buildings is dedicated solely to team projects. He also enjoyed how the school dealt with student stress, “with the single counselor on campus assisting a large academic support program called Learning Enhancement,” he said. “The dedication of a large central space in the middle of the campus gives their Learning Enhancement staff a full-time space to focus only on academic support.”
Aside from his time at St. Stephen’s, Draper also enjoyed several sightseeing opportunities, visiting Cairns and its famous Great Barrier Reef, where he went scuba diving for the first time. The trip also included visits to Brisbane and Sydney.