Smithton High School Youth Mentor Selina Maguire has been running ‘Hands On’ programs with local students who are disengaged, and find that learning in the classroom isn’t the best fit for them.
For the past two-and-a-half years, Selina has been providing her services five days a week with no funding, just using what resources she has available and working closely with teachers, the school psychologist and nurse to ensure her ever developing role is closing the gaps in dealing with her student’s issues.
“Myself and Dudley [Billing],working with Youth at Risk and Vulnerable students realise the absolute importance of Project Based Learning and the benefit of exposing students to projects where they are learning Maths, Science etc but in a practical way,” said Selina.
The aim of the programs is to intervene early with the students in year 7 and 8 so that by the time they reach years 9 and 10 they have the necessary coping skills to succeed in a normal class environment and in the broader community.
“We are very lucky at Smithton High School to have a principal and leadership team that embraces alternative learning and out of the square ideas,” said Selina.
“We have so many amazing students here with so much potential and maybe the classroom model doesn’t entirely bring out their best, so being able to deliver at the school a mix of classroom and project based with funding will be a huge plus.”
Working closely with staff to identify and address underlying issues with her students, Selina then uses a variety of one on one and small group projects and activities to inspire and engage the students in a way that gives them reason to turn up to school each day.
The hands on learning experiences also allow for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to participate in activities that they would not usually have a chance to experience.
“Hands on Learning programs are real important for us because we find we do better learning out of the classroom. Being able to do activities with Selina is why we come to school,” students Caine Nicholls and Felix Broome said.
“We are excited that we got some money so we can start on our project – the street art mural which will describe our life as boys growing up in Circular Head.”
“Getting outside and doing stuff that interests me like cleaning up the Duck River (magnet fishing) and Street Art Mural makes school more interesting and I have learnt a lot,” said Harry Rushworth.
With the recent news that her grant application was successful, Selina now has $18,000 of funding available through the Mantana Foundation, a foundation that provides assistance to disadvantaged young people in Australia.
Projects which can now continue to flourish include, the Bee Aware program and the successful Clean up the Duck initiative which will now become an annual event.
“We are excited about receiving this grant from Matana Foundation as it allows an opportunity to really grow our “Hands on Learning” program, said Lab Tech Jenny Brazier.
“We also hope to integrate our “Hands on Learning” program with other classes.
With this grant we were able to purchase a Water chemistry testing kit for taking into the field and in this case to the Duck River and test for a variety of water chemistry conditions.”
“From this we hope to get a sense of the health of the river. Our Hands on Learning kids along with our Applied Science students will learn how to use this kit with the HoL kids taking responsibility with taking regular measurements while the Applied Science students will learn how to interpret and report the results,” said Jenny.
New programs to be added thanks to the funding will include a boys street art mural, which will see students designing and planning a street mural and carrying out the artwork with the guidance of a professional artist and a maritime experience in which students will travel to Hobart.
Smithton High School Youth Mentor Selina Maguire and ‘Hands On” student Harry Rushworth are keen to get started on the street mural project thanks to a grant from the Mantana Foundation
Smithton High School Lab Tech, Jenny Brazier checks out the new Back Pack Labs with Caine Nicholls and Felix Broome, the first purchase made with the grant.