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Humans of St John’s

Fri, 05/04/2024Posted by:

Welcome to the latest edition of Humans of St John’s featuring Assistant Head of Junior School, Kimberly Samanes, and her journey to St John’s.

Kimberly with her children and husband

I grew up in the Far North Queensland city of Cairns “Where the rainforest meets the reef”. With family spread across Australia and around the globe, I developed a strong appreciation for international mindedness and a passion for adventure, making strong connections with people, places and other cultures. A curious and creative personality, my favourite subjects at school were Visual Arts and Biology and I enjoyed playing Netball and Tennis.  As a child with strong organisational skills, a passion for helping others and with formative experiences as a tennis coach, I would often hear the feedback “she will make a good teacher one day!”.

Leaving the nest of Cairns, and still too young to envision a lifetime spent in a classroom passing on experiences I was yet to gain, I attended university in Canberra with a focus on Communications and a passion for Media and Multimedia. Aspiring to join the animation and movie-making world, I then moved to London and explored the media houses of the famous. However, due to the accessibility of such vibrant and diverse cultures at my doorstep, I naturally preferred to satisfy my longing to travel and explore the globe. Returning to Australia I set up base in Adelaide and strove to feed my desire by becoming a Travel Agent. Completing my traineeship and working as a Travel Consultant opened the doors to many different travel opportunities. However, as I matured, I began to explore a career path better suited to my nature. I made the switch from sales to teaching, completing my Post Graduate Bachelor of Education in Primary and Middle School at The University of South Australia.

Starting my teaching career in a High School, I focused on the disciplines of English, Humanities and Social Science (HaSS), and Visual Arts developing my skills working in both the mainstream and the Special Education Unit. The school, being an all-girls public school, attracted a strong international clientele and I specialised further as an English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher. I taught mainstream ESL classes and ran focused support groups across the school.

I married, and as a Defence Member spouse soon moved to Melbourne, a city we desired to live in due to the diverse multicultural influences and vibrant city life. While teaching in a Middle School in a P-12 Anglican College I completed my Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) Graduate Diploma. My Husband, while Australian-born, is of Spanish descent and is fluent in Spanish, a skill which enabled his selection for an Air Force posting to Madrid.

Packing our bags, I returned to Europe. Making the most of my TESOL qualification I worked in a variety of different International and Spanish Schools teaching children from Grade 2 through to Adult Education. My native English tongue and unique Australian accent, paired with my educational experience, proved an asset and I was asked to conduct corporate classes with Political Ministers, supporting the Spanish Government’s drive to become a bi-lingual nation through the implementation of immersion classes.

With the arrival of my eldest son, we decided to return to Australia to be closer to family. In Canberra, we welcomed our second son a couple of years later. Having been absent from Queensland for almost 20 years we decided to return to the Sunshine State to be closer to our families and moved to Brisbane in 2019 just before the COVID pandemic closed the borders the following year.

I joined the St John’s community at the start of 2019 as a Year 4 teacher covering a maternity leave contract. The love and community feel of the College and the drive to implement better education through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) won me over and I returned the following year in a permanent capacity. To this day, although I have changed roles, I continue to support the development of inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people and value the building of critical thinking skills and nurturing curiosity in education.

Passionate about Pastoral Care and Student Wellbeing, I represent the Junior Campus on the College Wellbeing committee. The Wellbeing Committee focuses on building cross-campus connections and deepening the bond between families, the school, and the broader community. Central to the committee is the St John’s Wellbeing framework, embodying the Social and Emotional attributes of the learner profile.

In 2023 I undertook the acting role of Assistant to the Head of Junior School and IB PYP Coordinator, and became permanent the following year. Never too old to continue my own education and embodying the value of life-long learning I have again returned to further study through the University of Queensland to complete a Masters in Educational Studies, focusing on Leadership and the Science of Learning.