Tonia Gray has inspired me throughout the last 7 years in an ongoing professional role. She has supported my post-graduate studies from the beginning as my lecturer in Graduate Certificate of Outdoor Education. My research interests in Primary School outdoor education and connecting children to nature were fostered throughout her courses. Tonia encouraged me to work in an area that was only emerging in Australia at that time. She showed trust, respect and insight in allowing a student to follow their own research interests. Throughout the consequent years Tonia supported me as I progressed through study at Masters level and in completing outdoor learning courses overseas scholarships. We developed a constant professional dialogue regarding recent research and surrounding key figures in the field; such as Richard Louv. Tonia assisted me to develop my PhD Scholarship application and is now my Principal Supervisor. There has been a constant throughout this journey and it has been Tonia’s nurture and guidance. Her understanding of current research, excellent communication skills and positive attitude have ensured that my development as a student has been given every chance of success. Tonia exhibits strong leadership skills and qualities that empower individuals to achieve their very best. Any student given the opportunity to be under her guidance is in my opinion very lucky indeed.
— Amanda Lloyd, current PhD Scholarship student (2014)
Tonia Gray creates a sense of disequilibrium with her students that pushes them to think outside of their normal comfort zone and pursue further transformative learning. She challenges her students to reach for exemplary results through the setting of high expectations. This is coupled with detailed and personal feedback. I have felt valued and cared for in her classroom and this has allowed me to take the necessary risks involved in sharing personal experiences in tutorials and through formal essays.
— Jenny Perry, UWS Masters of Educational Leadership (2014)
Going back to university after a 20-year absence was filled with much anxiety and concern. As a teacher we are in charge of our students and happily guide them on the journey of education. To put myself in the student’s shoes was a different story. Learning how to be a good leader often requires one to experience disequilibrium in order to become a stronger and wiser. This is exactly what Tonia Gray did on our first day of university. Her style of teaching and guiding her students through the many learning processes that develop positive leaders was insightful and rewarding. Completing the Helium stick initiative made us look at the need for teamwork and group consensus, which for many of us was not an easy task. This approach has taught us the importance of taking risks and trialing new ideas but at all times under the guidance of a support network. This is what a true educator should do and Tonia allowed us to reach this valuable conclusion through her unique style of teaching. During the entire process Tonia has been supportive and helpful, only too willing to offer assistance where required. She has made my return to formal learning an enjoyable and rewarding one.
— Christine Payne, UWS Masters of Educational Leadership (2014)
Tonia’s experience based learning approach, including reflections on hands on activities such as the ‘Helium Stick’, instilled a spark in her students. Her high expectations raised the bar in our lifelong learning journeys. A brilliant leader who leads by example through delivering authentic learning, to inspire and bring out the best in her students.
— Dona Issa, UWS Masters of Educational Leadership (2014)