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New teachers, and a familiar face, at St Ignatius


New teachers at St Ignatius Parish School - Sarah Ashleigh and Joshua Beer. Photo TWH

As the new school year gets underway, Bourke has welcomed some fresh new faces to the teaching roster at schools across the shire – and one familiar face returning to the place he once called home.

Josh Beer is a member of one of Bourke’s most committed families, who during their seven-year stint in the town contributed much to the life of the community.

Josh first came to Bourke as a fourteen-year-old when his family moved here from Sydney to take up various professional roles in the town.

Now, as a qualified teacher, Josh is once again giving back to the community, this time in front of the classroom. Josh is one of two new teachers at St Ignatius Parish school, along with Sarah Ashleigh who is starting in her very first teaching job away from her hometown of Canberra.

Josh said it feels like ‘coming home’ and said he was excited about returning to a place that had a significant impact on his youth - and his career.

“It feels really good to be back,” he said. “I grew up here. I was 14 when my family moved here from Sydney and I was 21 when we left, but Bourke gets into your heart and mind.

“For me, Bourke has so many great people and great memories, and when I saw the job advertised at St Ignatius School I thought it was an opportunity for adventure, so I thought I’d go for it - and here I am.”

The Beer family made a huge contribution to the community during their previous time here, with dad John working in financial counselling, and the family fostering disadvantaged children, a role they continue in their new hometown in Forbes. Josh moved to Sydney with his aunt Abbie and worked in disability support and returned to Bourke briefly in that role several years ago before once again returning to Sydney.

He had previously been a teacher’s aide at Bourke Public School and during the COVID lockdown decided it was time to look at a new career. His stint in the classroom had made a lasting impression and he decided that was where his heart was, and he is now working on completing his master’s degree in teaching.

Josh said he was used to new horizons and challenges. His family had lived in several places in the UK, including Cornwall and Devon, as well as overseas, before they settled in Bourke in 2008. His said his parents set an example of community involvement, and Josh and the rest of the Beer family were keen participants in ballroom dancing and line dancing, the Men’s Shed and many other activities in town.

“Just the other day I found out that line dancing is still happening and I honestly can’t remember how I started doing it, but I think it was just the family wanting to get out and get involved in what’s happening and they took me along as well. […]

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