Vanessa Willets is the deputy principal at Braidwood Central School

The purpose of education is not just the learning of facts, says Vanessa Willets.

"We need to be teaching students to have a role in society, a voice in the community," says the deputy principal of Braidwood Central School (years K-12, co-educational).

"We've seen here that young people are passionate about social justice. They're confident and not afraid to speak out where they see injustice. We need to tap into that and help nurture and develop it."

She'll e apples: Vanessa Willets, deputy principal at Braidwood Central School after 10 years on the campus in a 20-year teaching career. Photo: Robin Tennant-Wood

She'll e apples: Vanessa Willets, deputy principal at Braidwood Central School after 10 years on the campus in a 20-year teaching career. Photo: Robin Tennant-Wood

Ms Willets has recently come into the role of deputy principal at BCS with about 20 years' experience as a classroom teacher. Now in her 10th year at the campus, she enjoys a great mix of teachers and atmosphere of a small school of 360 students.

"It's an attractive place to teach," she says. "There's a lot of diversity among staff and students and it's easy to get to know students here."

Ms Willets started her teaching career in Western Sydney, at Doonside and Elderslie, before transferring to Braidwood when her husband got a job in Canberra. They live between Braidwood and Canberra to make commuting easier for both.

One thing she noticed during her time in the big urban schools was the cost of stress among staff. "On average, teachers remained in the profession three years." She brings a concern for high burnout levels in the profession to her new role.

"I see the role as being able to work with teachers and making them feel supported. It's important to know where people are in their career and connect with them. I'm also passionate about diversity within the profession."

Over her two-decade career, Ms Willets has seen not only changes in the standards and accountability required of teachers, but also vast changes in how technology has impacted the profession.

"Technology and social media have changed how students interact," she said. "They don't switch off any more and are constantly in touch with one another.

"We see them arrive at school bringing their dramas with them if they've been texting one another all night and this changes the dynamics in the classroom.

"It's great in a rural area where kids might live distances from each other, that they can maintain contact, but there are positives and negatives. There's this inability to shut off that affects everything."

Ms Willets lists some of the big highlights so far for BCS in 2019 as being the success of the ag students at the Royal Canberra Show, which will see 10 of them travel to Sydney to parade their sheep at the Royal Easter Show; and the successes of the school's swimmers in reaching the zone finals and some going on to the regionals.

"One of the big changes this year will be the new HSC subjects, and we've also got new building work this year, which will be disruptive but when it's finished we will have what is called future-focused learning spaces, which are more flexible than the traditional classroom, and a specialist music-drama area."