The story of St Andrews

G’day folks! In this edition of Grapevine, we’ll be hearing from one of our star mentors, Chloe Stuart, who we first met as a mentee at our inaugural teens camp way back in 2014. She’s now mentoring at St Andrews’s Primary School in Clayton, and today she’s here to tell us about how our program there is progressing.

Take it away, Chloe!

Max Williams, Editor

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St Andrew’s is a school I CAN Network has been mentoring with for about two years now. As one of our early projects, it speaks for itself that it’s still going strong and will be the host school for Imagination Day 2017. (A day that brings I CAN’s primary school groups together)

As a mentor at St Andrew’s I can say it’s an immensely rewarding job. I could go on about it for days. What prompted me to write this article was when our beloved teacher liaison showed us an article on our program in the weekly school newsletter. It was a lovely gesture and mentioned (alongside our positive influence on the students) how we’ve also roped the surrounding St James’ and Salesian Colleges into the I CAN program, meaning we may be able to continue to support our current students throughout high school as well.

With a group as eclectic as ours it’s not always smooth sailing, but amidst the chaos, and sometimes because of it, we’ve seen some fantastic development in our students. Just this year, a teacher reported back to us that one of our quieter (and only female) students had the confidence to tell the teacher that the classroom was too noisy for her. To have confidence in stating your needs is an important step, and far more beneficial than the suffer-in-silence attitude we see all too often.

Another student has visibly matured a lot since he’s been with us; he used to hide in a corner at the first sign of disappointment or if he felt he’d done something wrong. Slowly we’ve seen him develop greater self-awareness and a sense that making mistakes and feeling disappointed is okay. It can be a learning experience and life goes on.

Lastly, yet another student we’re particularly proud of has made leaps and bounds in his verbal and social skills since we met him. In one of our early sessions, he said all of four words: “I like eating nuts.” Since then, we’ve seen him start to ask questions, talk to his peers and even do his own Imagination Creation in front of the class. (A version of I CAN talks for primary schools)

Working with the students has not only benefitted them, but I’ve learnt so much about the diverse ways in which the mind can work. I know I said this already, but I would like to reiterate just how rewarding an experience it’s been. We hope that we can keep supporting these students as they transition to high school and beyond.

Chloe Stuart

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