For 15 years, the Canadian-born former sound designer and engineer spent his days immersed in film, commercials and TV.
“Working with advertising agencies and working with 12-year olds, I suppose in many ways it’s very similar,” he laughs, comparing his current role.
In fact, it was having children himself which prompted Starnes to consider another career path.
“When you have kids, it’s a real game changer, and I wanted to do something a bit more real…
“It sounds cheesy, but I really wanted to make a difference and I thought the biggest impact I could make is to teach.”
While still an early-career teacher, Starnes’ enthusiasm and dedication has already created a splash in the wider school community.
Recently he set students and parents a homework task; asking both to write a letter, prompting them to introduce themselves and their family.
Starnes also penned a letter sharing his background, too.
The letter exercise, developed by Starnes, his lead teacher and another colleague, was rolled out across the entire cohort.
“It gave an idea of what the children’s expectations are and what the parent’s expectations are, and sometimes you can see a difference, sometimes you can see them align, but it also gives you an idea of what interests the children and what most excites them,” Starnes explains.
“Looking back, I think I did myself more of a favour than I ever thought by doing that.
“It really set me up for the rest of the term, and for the rest of the year, in terms of getting to know them, and how they learn…”
“In two weeks I was able to get a grasp of what made my students tick.
It served as a base to make contact with my parents immediately and invite them to engage in anything really, in any issues that they had.
“It’s tricky because there are three partners in educating a child. “There are three or four major partners in that. “The teacher, the student, and the parents, we all need to be on the same page,” he reflects.
While Starnes has left the door open to combining education and sound design together in the future, for now, he says his focus is firmly on honing his teaching craft – and having fun in the classroom.
“I think it’s so important that my kids are enjoying being in the class. I actually think that’s the number one thing, because if they’re not enjoying it and having fun, then they’re not engaged…
“Plus it’s fun for me.”