Jane runs the English as a Second Language program at North Gambier School. She has used this role as a platform to facilitate the integration of new migrants into the Mt Gambier community.
Jane first began working with English as a Second Language students in late 2007, when she volunteered to be part of a program where refugees were located for the first time outside of the metropolitan area. It was a daunting task because this had not happened before, and no-one was sure of the processes and procedures of exactly how to set it all up in a country locale.
Undeterred, Jane set about making a success of the program – and achieved great things in a short amount of time. She involved the whole school in her vision, and also enlisted the assistance of people and businesses outside the school community. She developed numerous ways for students to practice their English outside of term time so that progress was not lost.
A homework club (which is still running) was set up. Not only for the students, who still return from the local High Schools to receive assistance in their learning, but the parents too. Many of the parents learnt how to use a computer for the first time at North School, and there were especially lots of questions about learning to drive. The structure of the homework club has changed and evolved many times in the years since 2007, however, the one thing that remains constant is that Jane can still be found on Wednesday and Thursday nights (sometimes until well after 6:00) assisting students with their homework.
Jane fought hard to fund the English as a Second Language program, applying for various grants throughout the past five years. She has tirelessly put together many, many applications in order to improve the learning for the new arrivals and their families.
She has provided space for the youth to meet in the gymnasium outside of school hours – a place for them to feel safe and secure in their own community. The school grounds have also been freely made available for community soccer matches, community events and church meetings. Australian citizenship ceremonies have been held in the gymnasium – a testament to the sense of ownership and belonging that the new arrivals feel about living within our community.
The list is endless – from actively involving the older students in work experience, to employing parents as Bi-Lingual Support Officers, Jane has (and still) works tirelessly to run the specialised English as a Second Language program. It has not only been the children who attend North Gambier school who have benefited from Jane’s enthusiasm, but also the parents, who feel as if they are valued members of the community. Without Jane’s commitment and vision, the program would not be the success that it is today.