They also know what it takes to be a social entrepreneur in the US, an international pop mogul, and will soon have amateur expertise in natural medicines used in India.
They can also speak a little Arabic.
It’s a trove of global knowledge that the IT teacher from Hawkesdale P-12 College has worked hard to facilitate, intent on using technology to usher her rural school’s 220 students out of their small pocket of the woods.
“We don’t have mobile phone service where we are,” Mirtschin admits, “but we have reasonable wifi and bandwidth now.”
“I’ve always had to teach in areas that I’m not really certain of and I’m happy to be in that space now and take the risk…”
Risk-taking, it seems, has certainly paid dividends for the Victorian educator.
She recalls that pivotal moment when, having returned to the classroom after an eight-year break, her career took a swift turn towards technology.
“When I stepped into my second class of the day there was a room of computers and I had not seen a computer [before].
“I had to be honest with the students, I said, ‘c’mon, can we learn together?’” Mirtschin laughs.
“[Since then] I’ve always been on the cutting edge of any of the new tools that have come out.”
The only Australian to have recently snagged one of six prestigious Making IT Happen awards for her pioneering leadership in the tech ed space, Mirtschin has build up an extensive network of educators from all corners of the globe, thanks to her ‘Tech Talk Tuesdays’ webinars and edublog.
Most find their (virtual) way into Hawkesdale via Skype in the Classroom.
“My kids work in small groups with kids from other countries, like New Zealand, America, Canada – we’ve had the Middle East in there as well, so they work together to research and then produce a product they share on their research…”
Mirtschin has also connected her otherwise “geographically and culturally isolated” students to the likes of music producer Mark Ronson, Call of Duty game developers, and an author based in New York.
“A lot of our kids are on beef farms, sheep farms … so we’ve linked up with students at a Japan university to show them what it looks like in the supermarket over there,” she notes.
Next on the cards is a collaborative project on oceans with a Taiwanese school, plus a ‘pollution and traffic’ investigation with a group of New Delhi students.