When I was approached to write something up about my Teach Learn Grow experience, I immediately said yes, and then realised that I had no idea where to start. TLG has become such a massive part of my life and absolutely every moment that I've had has been so incredible. I'm lucky enough to have been to Morawa, Pia Wadjarri, Coolgardie, and most recently, all the way up to Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley.
Being the Education Manager of TLG and an overly passionate education student means that I am fully invested in the education and well being of these children. That 'aha' moment, when a child finally understands something that their tutor has been going over all week, is the moment that I get really excited about. There is nothing I love more than seeing a child realise their own self worth and abilities because they've had a tutor that's empowered them, and made them realise that they can do anything. Ask anyone who has been on a program with me, I get super teary about these little moments.
I want to tell you about Davey (not his real name). Davey was in Year 5 age wise, but when I met him, he had completed a total of 9 weeks of school. Can I just say, the school was so supportive and was doing everything that they could to get this little tacker on track, but when a graduation from Year 6 means high school.... Sometimes the reality for these kids is a little scary.
When I met him, on Day 1 of the Rural Program, he was so shy and quiet, and he was so afraid to try in case he was wrong. Davey couldn't read words, but he was good with numbers and he could write numbers and his name. That's a pretty good start, I can work with that! He was very smart. Although he couldn't read, he understood content fairly well, and knowing that... I worked him hard! I made sure every single thing he did went in his workbook, and by the end of the week it was full. One moment I will never forget is going through that book with him on Friday afternoon, and seeing him cry because he had never seen that much of his own writing or work in one place. When I tested him on Friday afternoon, Davey got every single question correct, but for me, seeing his confidence grow through the week and getting to know him was priceless. I feel very lucky to have met him and I know that no matter where he ends up, he will work his absolute hardest.
One other story I will share with you is my most recent trip to Fitzroy Crossing. This was a special trip because instead of the usual uni student tutors, I went with some Year 11 and 12 students from All Saints College. I think to give up a week of your time as a uni student is a big sacrifice, and I was so excited to see the kinds of high school students that were willing to do the same. I wasn't disappointed. Not only were these guys ruthless Mafia players, but they also gave their absolute all to the kids at Bayulu Remote Community School.
Fitzroy Crossing is a different kind of a beast because of a lot of different factors at play. A massive issue for the area at the moment are alcohol restrictions and this deeply affects the kids and their families. The tutors all had their work cut out for them, for sure.
Seeing kids that haven't even graduated high school yet interacting with the kids at the school, some of which who didn't even speak English is something that I felt very grateful to have been a part of. A couple of the tutors them came to me on the Thursday to tell me about their 'aha' moments and little victories, and honestly hearing those made me happier than some of my own magical moments. I know that many of those high school tutors are now considering becoming teachers, or medical professionals, or going into research with the sole intent of getting back out to a community and helping them. That's a pretty major thing, young people recognising this need and feeling empowered to do something about it. I'm all about that.
Look, it's so cliche, but seeing other people grow on the program is my absolute favourite part. We Teach, we Learn, we Grow.... Seeing other people come to care about our vision, that all children deserve equal opportunities when it comes to their education makes every single thing that I do, and that our entire executive team does behind the scenes worthwhile. If you have been on TLG before, I know you've already told your friends and family how incredible a program it is, because our applications increase every program we run. If you haven't, I encourage you to take a risk, and come and have the craziest and most rewarding week of your life with the rest of us. #tlglove