Michael Osborne is a teacher at the support unit of chatham high school.
Name: Michael Osborne.
> Age: 50.
> Star Sign: Aquarius.
> Did you grow up in the area / how did you come to live in the area?
No, I was born in Sydney, moved to Albury for my primary school years, then went to Grafton for high school. Both my parents were teachers, so we moved around a bit. I then went to teacher’s college in Newcastle, where I met my wife Sandy, who was from Taree. We moved back to Taree in the late ‘80s, bought some land and built our house at Wallabi Point, where we still live.
> Profession: Special Education Teacher.
> How did you become involved in teaching students with special needs?
I think I sort of fell into teaching students with special needs. I trained as an industrial arts teacher, but didn’t get a job in a school when I first graduated; so I took a job at a large rehabilitation centre in Sydney, working with adults with physical disabilities. I realised that I liked this type of work, but being a keen surfer I wanted to stay near the coast. So when a position came up in a Special School in Dee Why, I decided to give it a go.
I had six great years there before transferring to Manning Gardens Public School, which was one of the first primary schools in the state to have a purpose built special education facility as part of the whole school. This was an exciting time to be part of this initiative to integrate students into a regular school.
Previously, the only option for schooling for these students was in more segregated special schools. In 1991 as the Manning Gardens Support Unit outgrew its facility I, along with three other staff and two classes of students, moved to Chatham High School. Since then the Support Unit at Chatham has grown to be one of the biggest in NSW. It is a great place to work, with wonderful staff and a great school environment to be part of.
> What has been the most rewarding and challenging part of the journey so far?
The most rewarding part of the job is seeing the students fulfil their potential and make progress throughout their time in the support unit. Also, the great relationships that I have developed with students and parents over the years and knowing that I have made a difference to someone’s life.
The challenges are many and varied, but a few spring to mind; like pushing a student in a wheelchair through the snow on an excursion to Perisher and taking the support unit girls singing and dancing group this year – because according to the girls, I’m no Michael Jackson and I can’t sing like Taylor Swift.
> Are the students easy to get attached to?
Yes, I think all teachers get attached to the students they teach. In my situation, where I am working with a small group of students and I am playing a major role in their day to day life, you do get quite emotionally involved.
> Who would you like to thank for being a part of the process?
My wife and son Sam, who have to listen to me talk about my good and bad days; the great teachers and teachers aides whom I work with each day at Chatham High, and the families of the students that I teach who put their trust in me.
> What else do you enjoy doing in the community?
I really enjoy running my martial arts school in Taree and Old Bar several nights a week, teaching Tae Kwon Do (a Korean martial Art). I have been doing this for over 25 years now, and it is a huge part of my life. I have a passion for Ducati motorbikes and enjoy riding my classic Ducati 750, that I restored.
I love living near the beach at Wallabi, where I can walk my two beautiful Huskies, Sasha and Keeper, surf, ride my mountain bike in the bush and relax with family and my friends.
> How does it feel to be called a Local Legend for all the hard work you do?
It is wonderful to be acknowledged for the work you do, but I am just one of many staff doing a great job at Chatham High School.
I’m not sure about the ‘legend’ part, but after living at Wallabi Point for over 20 years, I think I might nearly be called a ‘local’ now!
> Thank you Michael.