Mount Gambier schools receive recognition

SCHOOL IMMERSION PROGRAMS: Grant High School students are Kirra, Oriana and Abbie were involved in an emergency services career immersion program where they stabilised a car after an accident.

Charlotte Varcoe

TWO prestigious education awards have made their way into Mount Gambier recently following the South Australian Public Education Awards.

Grant High School and Melaleuca Primary School both secured an award with the broader educational community celebrating the town’s success.

Each winner received $10,000 allocated for further professional development with the awards also recognising the achievements of teachers, leaders, allied health professionals and corporate staff across the state.

Grant High School received the University of Adelaide Team Teaching Award for its entrepreneurial program which began last year.

The program allows students to pursue a different style of education during the end of terms.

Grant High School HASS and powerful learning coordinator Bekkie Houston said the programs ran after end of semester reports were completed and were put in place to encourage students to continue their attendance.

“Students didn’t see the point in coming to school during that final week and so we decided that we needed to do something a little bit different and make it an immersion week,” Ms Houston said.

“Each year level does a different subject based around their level of learning and targeted needs which build on complexity as well and helps towards their future career pathways and the skills they need as they enter the next year of school.”

Ms Houston said the program had proven to supply a range of benefits for students including deeper learning with students developing critical and creative thinking skills.

“A lot of students don’t want to fail an assignment because it goes towards their final grade,” she said.

“However this program allows the students to learn through trial and error without it affecting their grades.

“We have also found that there are a lot of students who are not typically engaged in traditional learning and are engaging heavily in this area of learning and it also gives them an opportunity to take risks and engage on a deeper level.”

Ms Houston said herself and the other several teachers involved in the annual program were ecstatic to learn of the award, labelling it as a recognition of regional learning.

“We were all really proud when we were announced as a winner and we were also quite shocked too,” she said.

“It is also the whole school community who deserves this award because all staff are involved in delivering these programs and it is nice recognition for everyone that we are doing the right thing and giving these opportunities to regional students.”

Alongside Ms Houston and her team, Melaleuca Primary School social worker for attendance and family engagement Celeste Raymond also received a solo award at the event.

Ms Raymond received the Community Engagement Award on the night which she labelled as a surprise.

“The award was for my role in engaging with parents at the school and supporting them with their needs, what is happening at home and help them work through those difficulties,” Ms Raymond said.

“Teachers have fantastic support for the students and I support the parents which produces an overall team support network rather than just for the children.”

Working as a social worker for over a decade, Ms Raymond said it was rewarding to assist parents during difficult times and allow for those positive experiences to flow through to the children.

“There are a number of benefits of having this role in a small school community,” she said.

“It allows us as a school to converse with the parents on another level because parents also have a lot of crises going on in their lives and I go through that with them.

“This then leads to attendance improving significantly and more positive behaviours within the students.”

Upon receiving the award, Ms Raymond said she was proud the role was being recognised at a state level.

“As it is a new role it is fantastic to see it recognised,” she said.

“Social workers overall have been recognised and its importance in schools while highlighting the benefits is a really positive for the educational community.

“My role here is also well supported by the school, school and educational community as well as senior teaching teams.”