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Hedland Senior High School Teacher in Focus: Natalie Whiteside

Natalie Whiteside’s career has included making coffees in San Francisco, coordinating a major interior design project for Google in Silicon Valley and working at a language school in Mexico.

Now she is an English teacher at Hedland Senior High School, where she is simultaneously completing her Master of Education through Teach for Australia.

“I’ve been here just since the start of the year, and so far, I love it,” Natalie said.

“I volunteer with an organisation called FairGame on Monday nights, providing dinner and playing sports with local young people, and I am part of Hedland’s first ever women’s footy team with some of my students.”

Natalie was born in California and grew up in Sydney and Perth. At 21, after earning her Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Western Australia and working for a time at an architecture firm in Perth, Natalie booked a one-way ticket to the United States.

There, she backpacked across the country, winding up back in her home state of California, where she ultimately landed a job at the same architecture firm she had worked for in Perth. One eight-month design project for a Bay Area heavyweight later, Natalie moved to Mexico’s pacific coast, earned her TEFL qualification and began teaching English at a local non-profit education project in a small community called Volcanes, Puerto Vallarta.

“That made me realise my passion was in education,” Natalie said. “Ever since working in Mexico, I’d wanted to be part of bridging the gap, and giving back to kids on home soil.”

On her return to Perth, Natalie continued her love of teaching at an English school in Northbridge, educating adults from all over the world. It was during this that she applied to Teach for Australia, and soon scored a position in Hedland.

“With Teach for Australia, you learn to teach by teaching. In my experience it is the best way to learn, and Hedland Senior High School is a perfect place to make this happen,” she said.

“I’ve always been a people-person, and I think you have to be in this job. I love getting to know the kids and the way they learn and as a high school teacher, you get to experience them really progress throughout the year.”

Natalie said she hoped she could teach her students to be curious about the world.

“I want them to get out there and explore, ask lots of questions, and I hope my experiences might be able to inspire them towards that even a little,” she said.

Thank you, Natalie for everything you bring to the students at Hedland Senior High School and to the broader Hedland community.

Hedland Senior High School English Teacher Natalie Whiteside. Photograph by Bobbi Lockyer, 2021.