As an elite athlete, Alicia Keir knows the value of a clear goal, determination and mindfulness.
These qualities have given the sports co-ordinator at St Mary’s Catholic Primary Georges Hall a strong start to her teaching career after completing her degree in 2017. They have also won the respect of students who were stunned to hear she had missed qualifying for the Commonwealth Games 800m running event by only 0.5 of a second.
Her next goal is a spot in the Australian team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
As a former student of Holy Family Catholic Primary and Aquinas Catholic College Menai, Miss Keir is very familiar with the representative sport pathways Catholic schools offer and encourages students to follow their passion in sport.
There are so many positive things to teaching.
– Alicia Keir
Along with sports lessons, she also facilitates the MindUP program at St Mary’s. The program teaches students principles of mindfulness for wellbeing along with how the brain works, and encourages social and emotional learning.
“Teaching mindfulness and being the sports co-ordinator has been great because it combines health and sport together,” Miss Keir said.
“In MindUP we’ve been going through mindful listening, mindful speaking, mindful seeing, and mindful tasting.
“It’s about getting the students to use their senses, to be more aware of their surroundings and to see how being mindful can help them to regulate their emotions.”
Her moral is to try your best.
– Georgia Parisi
“I love being able to share the different strategies like deep breath, positive self-talk and visualization that are all things I know I have to do as an elite athlete before my races to focus.
“I teach them different tools to be able to do that in different scenarios, whether it be out on the sport field, in class or before an exam.”
Miss Keir competed internationally in 2017 in both the 4 x 800m relay at the World Relays Championships in Bahamas and in the 4 x 400m relay at the World University Games in Taipei, where her team made the semi-final.
The journey started with Cross Country in Year 3 and continued in high school where she made national teams six years in a row.
“I came almost last in my first cross country race,” she said. “Then I started to do a bit more training and the next year I went on to compete at the NSWCCC (NSW Combined Catholic Colleges) event where I won a medal.
“Running is like a meditation for me, so when I am having a stressful day it’s something I go and do more for myself than for training.
“Even though I am in competitions when it comes down to it I run because it helps clear my mind.
“There are some challenges, but there are so many positive things to teaching. All of the teachers here have been an amazing support and I’m starting to find my feet.”
Year 5 students share their thoughts on Miss Keir as a teacher and role model.
Christian Moussa, 10:
“She’s a really good teacher. She’s very athletic and she makes everything fun when we’re playing sport. I like that she competed to try get to the Commonwealth Games. I’m going to try out for everything, because it shows you can definitely make it.”
Genevieve Gallemore, 10:
“She’s a very nice and generous teacher. I’m very glad that she is here teaching us because she makes the things that we learn fun. In MindUP we learn how we use our brains because our mind helps us with everything.”
Georgia Parisi, 10:
“It’s good having a teacher that knows about sport. It has made me more interested in what she is teaching. She doesn’t do games for no reason. Her moral is to just do it and try your best. When I play soccer we say ‘Let’s try be a fast as Miss Keir’ so we really try when we’re playing.”
This article was originally published on About Catholic Schools on 26 March 2018.