A Tale of Two Remote Communities

Home sickness is something I don’t experience often, but I can honestly say that after the last four week break I had fleeting moments of wanting to stay down south.  Our break was a whirlwind of coffees, lunches and dinners with friends and family.  In a nut shell the following is some of what we did; caught up with my beloved Grandparents over dinner and a beer; enjoyed rich conversation solving the world’s problems over an amazing Texas style Brisket with Jen and Rob (you can read all about it here at Robs blog; enjoyed an afternoon at little creature brewery catching up with my friends and kids; spent a night down at Bellbrae Country Club with Sam and Carly over a few scotches; went to the footy; played golf; had my sisters 30th at the Ballarat Steakhouse (AMAZING!); and somehow managed to fit in a week of uni and that is only a few of the things we managed to fit in.

Returning to the Territory I was faced with what is most probably my biggest professional challenge as a teacher.  Taking the reins of Stirling School located in the small indigenous community of Wilora (MAP). In the map attached the community is on the left and the station where I live is on the right, with the Stuart Hwy along the top of the page, my house is the little white house bellow the main station.   The community is very welcoming and so far everyone seems glad to have me here.  The kids have been great and show a real want to learn and be pushed in their learning, which is great to see in such a small group. So far I have had 9 students ranging from grade 1 to 6.   The diversity of the group is the true challenge but I’m developing my delivery to ensure an authentic learning experience for all levels.  I have an indigenous teaching aid Karina, who is lovely and very good at her job.

So far so good, would be my statement after a week here in semi isolation, the hours are long and all inclusive with a full teaching load followed by evenings of administrivia and at present some grounds keeping tasks. Still on top of all this (some may think I’m crazy) I’m still at present tackling two masters units as well.

The housing is ample with 3 bedrooms, comfortable living area and beautiful outside views.  To borrow a line form a much loved Aussie classic, I often find myself thinking over a cuppa in my chair on the deck….‘how’s the serenity’.  I live smack bang in the middle of 750,000km2 cattle station that ranges from as far north as Barrow Creek and as far south as Tee Tree ranging on both sides of the Stuart highway.  The station owned by Anita and Mat Striling have had the land for several generations rearing Hereford cows.  It is a beautiful little place with still and quiet nights and some of the best night skies you could possibly imagine.

It is a great challenge, and I find myself motivated by the ideal of overcoming and excelling at this new adventure.  I stumbled across a familiar quote recently in my studies that now more so than ever truly represents how I feel every morning at a one teacher school.

“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized”.  Haim Ginott

For your general interest here are some images of Stirling School.

Under cover half court

Under cover half court

The Library

The Library

Main Classroom

Main Classroom

Undercover activities are and canteen

Undercover activities are and canteen

View from back of school

View from back of school

Play area

Play area

Local camp dog Yelma

Local camp dog Yelma

Local Dingo

Local Dingo

 

Front of School

Front of School

Staff Room

Staff Room

Emilies Corner

And we’re back for term three of 2014. We had a great break in Victoria with family and friends catching up for coffee and meals. Meeting the new little people in our group of friends was definitely a highlight for me!

Being back up north is a slightly different adventure for the next 6 months with Lachlan and I living and working in different communities. Coming back to the house last weekend was a little bit lonely and the house felt a bit empty without Lachlan. We now have his phone up and running and talking every day is something that most certainly helps. Funnily enough it’s a comfort to know that Lachlan is only 4 hours away and we can travel whichever weekend we like. I know of friends that have spouses the entire country apart, so 4 hours is more than doable for us. As I mentioned in the last post I am very proud of my husband and his achievement with his new position as Teaching Principal. I see a great leadership quality in Lachlan and I love that he has the opportunity to further his career in the next 6 months.

The start of term three in Canteen Creek has been slightly quieter than the last 2 terms this year and gradually families are returning to community.
This week we have had visitors from Sydney working with Barkly Arts to get our kids ready for the Desert Harmony Festival that is taking place in week 5. Our kids have really responded to the dancing lessons they have had this week and we have chosen a group of students to represent the school.

As for the next few weeks I am heading home to have my wisdom teeth removed. So the adventures of Canteen Creek will have to wait a couple of weeks.

I hope that all that are keeping up with us are enjoying reading and follow on for the next semester as a different adventure emerges.

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