For the past few weeks, we have been featuring interviews with Australia’s Career teachers. It’s been an interesting and insightful exercise, but this week I would like to tell you a little about myself and why I am so passionate about what I do as a Publisher.

From childhood my future career was never in doubt. I loved everything about books. The weight of a book in my hands. The smell of the ink and the feel of the pages as I eagerly flicked through. The fact that between the covers existed worlds of adventure, discovery, and learning.

I started writing and self-publishing craft books at a young age

In a publishing career that has spanned nearly 40 years, I can boast that I have published over 3 million books and magazines for the Australian and international publishing industry. My publications have included adult craft, children’s craft and activities and educational books.

For the past 20 years my focus has been the young adult genre specialising in career education and equipping young adults for their future. Such varied experience and exposure over the years has given me the opportunity to get to know the people who read and use my books. I attribute part of my success to my unique knowledge of speaking to young adults on their own level and spier of understanding.

Creativity is my forte in life

My friends and family know me as an extremely creative person who is always either repainting furniture, redecorating or handmaking gifts. It was no great surprise to them that I started out writing craft books, and it’s only natural that my style of publishing is communicating through practical, hands-on activities and advice. My style is also one of the reasons I have embraced educational publishing so successfully. This, and the fact that I am a visual learner, as are so many of the young adults I have spoken to.

Gaps to be filled!

I made the decision to specialise in publishing for careers education after exploring the resources that were already available. I found there were gaps to be filled, and many resources were failing to connect with students on their own level. My aim has been to fill these gaps and provide something better.

Most career resources offered a specific job or industry focus. That’s great if students have a clear vision of what they want to do. I was lucky. I always knew that I wanted to create and publish beautiful books, but many young people have no idea what they want to do or where to begin.

I came across many programs where the focus was the ‘Career Quiz’. You know, take the quiz – here’s the career that suits you and here’s a link to that industry. These can be fun (I have placed a few in my own programs), but on their own they are only briefly engaging on a superficial level. They’re not always accurate and are often quickly forgotten.

For a career quiz to be anything more than superficial, it needs the back-up or extension activities and resources to encourage young people to identify, explore and discuss their own interests, skills, and motivations on a deeper level. My team and I put our heads together to develop these resources, and it has been so satisfying to get positive feedback from schools.

Very few career resources address life skills, aspirations, work/life balance, and the importance of identifying and working towards a purposeful life. I can say with confidence that we do.

You can’t rely on technology alone to deliver hands on, quality learning!

Several years ago, schools were actively encouraged to ditch books and ‘go online’. At the time, we made the shift from physical to online publishing at Tracy Marsh Publications. (Let’s face it, we would be doing students a great disservice if we did not embrace new technologies.) Our successful Work-Ready online program was born and is actively used in schools throughout Australia. I’m proud to be able to deliver this program free of charge to all schools, educators, and students.

I have learned from experience and feedback that a purely IT driven program can leave frustrating gaps that put valuable resources out of reach of students in remote and regional schools, or classrooms and homes with inadequate IT facilities. I want students and educators to have the same opportunities to access quality resources, no matter where they are in Australia.

Everything old is new again…

The Covid pandemic threw out a challenge to schools and educational publishers alike. My challenge was to develop high quality, relevant student workbooks for remote or classroom learning.

The brief was to create student workbooks that are

· Easy to use, logical, bright and engaging in layout

· Flexible, portable and can be used at home or in class

· Have a human element with images that resonate with students

· Dialogue is down to earth, chatty, and speaks directly to students

· QR codes to connect students to further activities and information

The demands of the pandemic gave me the impetus to create the Work-Ready Student Workbooks, and my years of publishing experience ensured the brief was met. You see, I understand implicitly that working through the books slows the pace of engagement. It gives students the autonomy for more in-depth consideration. A physical book can be flipped through, revisited, altered, shared and discussed. Students own what they do. And for those comfortable with the digital option, a blended model provides the best of both worlds.

Physical workbooks – a fresh offering in a digital world. It’s almost as though I have come full circle.

Over 1,185 schools in Australia are registered to the online Work-Ready program and over 2,000 teachers are using Work-Ready and the workbooks

I am very proud of what Work-Ready has achieved. I must be doing something right!