Refining a teaching career with Fiona Wright
Fiona Wright had four young children and was also juggling teaching when she decided to begin studying theology part-time.
“I just knew I really wanted something for me,” she says. “I knew that studying theology would be really helpful for my teaching.”
Fiona decided to run the idea past John McClean, Vice Principal of Christ College, who happened to be a member of Fiona’s church.
“He sold me. I didn’t actually look anywhere else,” she admits, “because Christ College had Tuesday night classes and that was something I could manage.”
Fiona ended up studying a Graduate Certificate of Divinity part-time over the course of two years. During the second year she was teaching while also studying and caring for her kids.
“It was a big year,” she reflects, “but it’s very hard to treat study at Christ College as purely an academic exercise, because it’s just so important and so interesting.”
For Fiona, the thing that really worked for her initially was the option of a weeknight class. She wasn’t expecting to be welcomed into a community, however.
“I went in thinking people would be cliquey, because they’re all studying together,” Fiona says. “But what I actually found was there were some like me, just doing Tuesday nights. There were some auditing courses just on Tuesday nights and there were some doing the full candidate procedure—but everyone just got on. Everyone was there for the learning and the discussion and it didn’t feel segregated at all.”
Fiona was also delighted by the faculty. In her words, they “punch well above their weight.”
“They publish regularly. They speak regularly at conferences. They really attempt to engage with current cultural thinking and address it biblically—but gently and thoughtfully,” she says.
“I remember with (Principal) Ian Smith in particular, that half my brain was listening to what he was teaching me and the other half was admiring his pedagogy, because he’s just such a consummate teacher,” Fiona says. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m learning as much about teaching as I am about the Bible.’”
Fiona raves about the way her study at Christ College has benefited her career.
“It’s more than teaching strategies,” she explains. “It’s refined and more deeply informed my worldview and my understanding of the whole biblical narrative. Which means that when we are thinking at school about, say, wellbeing programs, or when I’m trying to lead change in certain areas, there’s a really robust theology underpinning that.”
Fiona now sits on the Presbyterian Theological Centre Committee, so she attends Christ College Graduation services in that capacity. It would not be an understatement to say they are one of her highlights of the year.
“I sit in the back going, ‘Oh, this is beautiful,’” she says. “The warmth of relationships, the gentle banter. The fact that lecturers are known and loved and they know and love their students. It feels like a community you just want to be part of because it’s authentic and genuine.”
It goes without saying that Fiona highly recommends study at Christ College. She’s adamant that there are enough options to cater for everyone.
“You’ll never regret it,” she says.
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