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Humans of St John’s

Wed, 17/01/2024Posted by:

Welcome to the latest edition of Humans of St John’s featuring DET Teacher, Chris Ralph, and his journey to St John’s 26 years ago.

Chris with his son Darcy

I’m the youngest of four children, born to immigrant parents. My father, a retired Major in the Seaforth Highlanders, dedicated his life to service and my mother courageously came to our new home from Lithuania after the Soviet occupation. Their experiences have significantly influenced my perspective, fostering a deep appreciation for resilience and cultural diversity.

Growing up in Moorooka on Brisbane’s south side with my three siblings—a brother and two sisters—I attended St Laurence’s College, following my earlier years at St Ita’s Primary in Dutton Park. It was at “Lauries” where I discovered my passion for education. The supportive teachers fuelled my desire to become a DET teacher, a goal I’ve pursued since the age of 13.

My parents separated when I was 10, and my father, never one to shy away from hard work, purchased a farm at Yandaran, approximately 30 km north of Bundaberg. School holidays were split between helping on the farm and enjoying the beach at Burleigh Heads, where my mother would set up a caravan for the eight-week Christmas holidays. These experiences offered a unique blend of rural and coastal living.

Between 1994-1997, my academic journey led me to Griffith University, where I completed a Bachelor of Technology Education with Honours. Balancing my studies with part-time work at Coles Sunnybank alongside my mother grounded me in honest physical labour. Graduating as the Dux of the Faculty in 1998, my thesis explored the alignment of conceptual knowledge through communities of practice.

My teaching journey began at Forest Lake College in 1997, where I responded to an advertisement for teaching roles at the growing College Avenue Campus. At just 21 and under the visionary leadership of Mr Tony Watt, the campus’s first principal, I embarked on a fulfilling career. These early days working with Wayne Pascoe forged lasting bonds.

Over the past 26 years at St John’s, I’ve dedicated my career to creating collaborative and innovative spaces for students. Pioneering the integration of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) alongside traditional methods, I introduced graphic design, drones, rapid prototyping, and 3D printing into the classroom.

In 2017, I presented at the World of Drones Conference, emphasising the endless possibilities of drone use in industry and its role in teaching 21st-century skills. My experiences have also extended beyond the classroom, including lecturing at Griffith University, co-authoring textbooks, and holding consultative roles in design and technology education with the Queensland Studies Authority.

I’ve always valued the joy and blessings derived from working with amazing professionals at St John’s. My teaching philosophy centres on understanding students, and recognising that excellence in technology education stems from knowing their interests, battles, and motivations.

Recently, I relocated to Forest Lake, and I’m enjoying the vibrant community. As a single dad to my two beautiful children, Darcy (18) and Matilda (15), I find solace in downtime, by a crackling campfire with a fishing rod or with a glass of red in hand on my friend’s property at Evans Head, in NSW.