Meet Mrs Sonter, Head of Technology and Creative Arts

CCGS Kate Sonter, Head of Technology and Creative Arts

With over 21 years experience teaching Technology, Mrs Kate Sonter, Head of Technology and Creative Arts at CCGS shares how technology can help innovate, create and solve global real world problems.

How long have you been a teacher?
I graduated from the University of Newcastle with a BA in Industrial Design. I went on to gain a Diploma in Education and started teaching in 1999 at Northlakes High School right here on the Central Coast. I then taught at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield and then joined Pymble Ladies College as a Technology teacher. My last position before CCGS, which I started this year, was as Head of Technology at St Catherine’s School in Waverley.

What does a typical day for you look like?
Technology covers lots of skills – woodwork, plastics, metal, textiles, food technology. I could be teaching any of these classes in any one day so there’s lots of variety. This week I’ve been in the workshop with Year 10 building a deck chair, with Year 9 making a footstool and in Year 8 sewing wildlife pouches in textiles. 

We’re also in the process of looking holistically at a course from when a student started in Kindergarten all the way to Year 12. For example I’ve been working with my colleagues to map the knowledge and skills development students have in each year group. We’re looking at what is run in each course and how we can improve on that to ensure key skills and knowledge is built upon and grounded. This will help our students become independent learners in the future in Food Technology and in particular when they choose majors works for Visual Arts and  Industrial Technology. 

You’ve been a teacher for 21 years. What have some of the highlights been so far?
Last year I had a student in Year 12 who came seventh in NSW for Design and Technology. That was amazing. Her major work was a filter system to remove oils and fats from a household sink. It was very innovative, and I was so proud of her. I’d taught her from Year 7 to 12, so I’d seen her development and growth. I watched her grow into such a confident and innovative learner – that was a real highlight. 

Teaching is not about accolades or results. It’s when you teach a concept and you see the penny drop. It’s when a student walks away and is proud of what they produce or what they know. They are the real highlights.  

What’s a common question you get from students?
“Can you teach woodwork?”

We do have girls in the courses but the role of teacher in this area is often viewed as a traditionally male. It’s interesting watching the students and their reactions when they first meet their female Industrial Technology teacher.

So what do you say?
I say yes! We then get on with the class, they see me using the machinery and I share my knowledge while I teach them. I’ve taught Technology for 21 years and it’s great to see more and more girls choosing Industrial Technology now. I hope I can encourage more females to get involved.

What do you love most about your job?
At CCGS I love the students. They are friendly, open, not shy to ask questions, they are honest and inquisitive learners. The staff here are very welcoming too and completely open to new ideas which helps us bring more to students and our learning environment.

Students here at CCGS have a lot of respect. They have respect for leadership but they are also thankful and grateful to come to CCGS. They don’t take it for granted. 

Why are subjects like Technology so important today?
It’s all about innovation and thinking outside of the norm when we try to create solutions. When we innovate, we can change the world and society. This is what really drives me. 

I think we need more people in the world who can think critically and creatively to solve problems. We really need to ignite people’s thinking here! 

What do you like to do when you are not working?
I’m an avid photographer. I have taken a photo of every lighthouse along the east coast of Australia. My first ever photograph was of Norah Head during my own Year 10 photography course. 

I love landscape photography too. When I was on a tour with students, we walked along the old parts of the Great Wall of China and into some poorer communities. The shots I took here are some of my favourite. 

Tell us something about you that not many people would know.
My dad was a boy scout, so I was taught at a very young age how to tie different knots. I can tie around 30 knots – something that comes in very handy when you love camping, which I do!