Meet Belinda Stephen - Health & Physical Education Teacher and Former… | Coomera Anglican College

Meet Belinda Stephen - Health & Physical Education Teacher and Former Elite Athlete

Belinda Stephen's role as an HPE teacher at Coomera Anglican College is well-known, but there is much more to her impressive background. 

Belinda's passion for athletics ignited at the age of 8 when she began competing in Townsville Centrals Little Athletics. Her talent was recognised early on, and by the age of 10, she was already selected for her first Queensland team. Over the course of more than a decade, Belinda proudly represented Queensland, winning numerous Australian titles in both High Jump and Heptathlon. She also proudly wore the Australian colors at two Oceania Championships, earning medals in the High Jump. Additionally, Belinda achieved success at the Pan Pacific Schools titles, securing a bronze medal.

In addition to her own athletic accomplishments, Belinda has made a significant impact as a Level 4 Track and Field Coach with over 25 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to coaching junior athletes in various disciplines, including High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump, Javelin, Hurdles, and Multi-events. Belinda's expertise has yielded remarkable results, with many of her protégés earning State and Australian medals. Her coaching journey has taken her to both Queensland and New South Wales Little Athletics, where she not only coached and managed teams but also conducted coaching qualification courses for aspiring coaches. Recently, Belinda's exceptional skills and knowledge led to her invitation to join an exclusive group of elite developmental female High Jump coaches across Australia.

Within the Coomera Anglican College community, Belinda's coaching prowess has shone brightly. She has guided a multitude of young athletes to medal-winning performances at Queensland championships. Noteworthy names among her successful students include Mackenzie Hall, Chloe Taylor, Will Smith, and Tom Bartlett. Chloe Taylor, in particular, thrived under Belinda's mentorship and went on to secure a medal at the 2022 Australian Schools titles.

Belinda Stephen's impact reaches far beyond the classroom as she continues to inspire and shape the next generation of athletes through her teaching and coaching expertise.

As we concluded Athletics Carnival week here at Coomera Anglican College, we thought it would be a good time, to chat with Belinda about how her background as an elite athlete has impacted and influenced her role as a HPE teacher.

As an HPE teacher, how has your background as an elite athlete influenced your approach to teaching physical education?

I guess my love of sport and in particular Athletics,  first inspired me to go into coaching and teaching. It was actually through the coaching side that I started working with beginner or grass root athletes to give back to the sport that I gained so much from while ensuring they were learning the correct technique and fundamental skills that are essential. I always try to bring fun and enjoyment into my lessons, as if the kids are having fun and enjoying themselves, they will come back for more. 

What are some strategies you use to ensure that all students feel included and supported in your HPE classes?

Probably the best one that we all use in Primary PE at CAC is the warm-up games, which are designed to get all students moving in a fun, enjoyable way at the start of each lesson. These can be modified to suit the age and ability of the students.  We often ask them to suggest how we can change or modify the rules of these games to make them more challenging or fun, which also gives the students a voice in their learning and participation. 

Could you share a memorable moment or funny anecdote from your experience teaching HPE? 

Too many to list here and some may not be appropriate for publication!  One of the best parts about teaching Prep and Year 1 PE is they tell you EVERYTHING! 

Can you discuss any innovative teaching techniques or technologies that you have incorporated into your HPE lessons recently?

In year 1, we have been doing a target games unit, where the students experience a number of different games that require them to aim for different targets using throwing, rolling, and kicking. At the end of the unit, the students were put into small groups and were asked to come up with their own target game, where they had to choose from selected equipment and create their own scoring system. This was a great way of using the inquiry technique in a PE lesson, which also complemented their inquiry unit on games in class and the students had a blast. 

 If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring HPE teachers, what would it be? 

The ability to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances on a daily basis is important. Whether that be because of the environment (rain, wind, heat etc), the students themselves, or school events, it is an important part of being an HPE teacher.

Try to instill a love of being active at an early age – if kids are having fun and enjoying themselves, they will continue to participate in PE, sports and recreation activities.