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Alumni News

Teacher, Wife, Leader of Women - Marika Brown (nee Schrinner)

Class of 1985

Marika Brown (nee Schrinner) graduated from Christian Outreach College (COC, now Ů) in 1985. She loved studying teaching at Mount Gravatt College of Advanced Education as it was called in those days, now known as Griffith University. Her first teaching job was at COC. She had a yearning to teach upper primary students after doing practical placements in upper primary classrooms, but her first job was in Year 1, alongside Ruth Gravestein, now Head of Primary, and Kay Gagliardi, another long serving staff member. “We were a pretty awesome team. Those years were filled with creativity!”

In 1997, she gave in to the travel bug, moved to London and experienced two extremes of teaching conditions. She recalls, “I was in one of those North London schools you see on TV shows with 12-foot-high barbed wire fences, not a blade of grass in the school and parents who would have screaming matches outside the classroom in the afternoon. The placement following this was like something out of an Enid Blyton storybook: sixteen angelic little girls with straw boaters, ties and black and yellow blazers.”

Marika returned to Australia and COC in 1998, but soon felt God stirring her to go back to England. When she read in her daily devotions: “Go back and finish what you started last year,” she sensed that God was talking to her. She packed, sold and shipped her belongings, and arrived in London where things promptly fell apart. “There’s a reason that Old Kent Road is the least valuable property on the Monopoly board and that’s where I was working.” The conditions were untenable so she had to resign. However, this led to an unexpected position as an assistant to an aristocratic English lady. Marika was now chief dog walker, driver, chef, shopper and companion. This time allowed for some healing and restoration that led to a wonderful teaching position at a girls’ boarding school for the next three years.

In early 2001, God prompted Marika to read the Book of Ruth which she describes as a story of “somebody returning to their homeland where God took control of every aspect. The amazing thing is the Book of Ruth is a love story and God used those months to allow my relationship with Derek (Brown) to flourish.”

Derek and Marika had been great friends since meeting at Youth group. After a four month telephone courtship, Marika returned to Brisbane at the end of July and within three weeks they were engaged and three months later they were married. They have now been married for 19 years.

On returning, Marika settled at Groves Christian College, teaching her beloved Year 6, and then became the Head of Upper Primary. She missed the classroom so much that she landed back at Citipointe in 2010.

Marika’s other love is ministry, so teaching extension students part time and coordinating the women’s ministry at her church offered wonderful balance. She also completed postgraduate study in gifted education which was “absolutely life transforming for me. It opened my mind to so many new ways of being able to reach these students.”

Marika explains the needs of learning extension children: “We find that students who are super bright will react in a number of different ways to schooling. Some will just continue doing the best that they can with everything they do, but others start getting bored because they already know the work. This can cause them to either underachieve in order to fit in with other students, to switch off and disengage, or they may become the class clown.”

“I find they do need a different approach. They need to work much more quickly and require considerably less repetition in terms of reviewing work. But they can also bring a raft of other characteristics such as perfectionism and high anxiety in their desire to do well. I find the pastoral side of what I do crucial because I’m helping them individually, not just to do well academically, but to be able to develop the skills that they need for life.”

Marika knew she wanted to be a teacher from her early teen years. “After a brief work experience stint, I knew that being a teacher was what I was going to do. And here I am 31 years into teaching, feeling more inspired now as a teacher than I did when I first started with all that youthful energy.”

“In my experience, Christian education doesn’t force students to think or act a certain way but offers them choices. It provides an environment for the seeds that are planted to flourish.”

Marika recalls her own school days with fondness. The only piece of play equipment back then was a trampoline and she remembers the day a boy crashed straight through it. The whole school was in A Block, with only one wall in there. “The Year 1s had their own class, but the rest of us were all in one big open space. There were no floor coverings in those first few months. We had port-a-loos and I vividly remember being asked to guard the door for a little girl.  I had locked the door but got distracted and ran away, leaving her locked in the toilet!”

“We got up to a lot of mischief because we were allowed to go to the oval across the road at lunchtime and used to all nick down along the creek,” she recounts with the cheekiest of grins.

Marika says that her English and Music teacher, Mrs Faye Crane, captured her imagination with her ability to tell stories in a way that made her want to experience those things for herself. This led to some wonderful travel dreams that became a reality.

In regard to teaching at Citipointe, Marika says, “When your values are aligned with where you work and the people you spend time with, you actually have the opportunity to be the most effective that you possibly can be.”

She also loves interior decoration and has a side business staging homes for real estate sales. She loves experimenting with beautiful furnishings and artwork. But her biggest passion outside of work is travel. She particularly enjoys Europe – a wistful look comes into her eyes at the mention of the Mediterranean.

Marika encourages anyone interested in a career in teaching to pursue it, stating that, “It is the best profession in the world.”  She loves the energy of being in the classroom; the laughter, the engagement and the problem-solving that goes with finding the best way to present something. “The students themselves are the best part about teaching.”

Whether she has been working with school students, lecturing at university or teaching Bible College subjects, whether she is speaking to a large group of ladies or writing a blog post for a select few, Marika is guided by the call to teach that she believes God ordained from a young age. She is grateful for the opportunities that Citipointe has given her, both as a student and as a teacher. “The College has opened up so many things for me in life and enabled me to become who God has called me to be.”