THE extraordinary fundraising efforts of the Upper Hunter community, and some significant donations from Coal & Allied and Glencore, has allowed the Where There’s A Will Foundation to fund 34 teachers from 18 schools to complete a Professional Certificate of Education (Positive Education) through the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education.
Melbourne University’s Dr Peggy Kern travelled to deliver the training to the teachers at the Tertiary Education Centre in Muswellbrook, with the first round of lectures starting on Friday.
The Singleton contingent included Jaye Sunerton (Singleton High School), Diane Merrick (Singleton Public School), Jodie Bowd (St Catherine’s Primary) and Catherine McBurney (St Catherine’s Secondary).
Dr Kern, whose research on understanding and measuring wellbeing across the lifespan has been awarded internationally, says the course will benefit teachers and pupils alike.
“If you’re a student, it means your teacher will know exactly how to go about making sure you feel good and function well,” she said.
“It also means your teacher will be happier and healthier themselves, which will make you feel more connected to them which will make you perform better in school.
“If you’re one of the participating teachers it means you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of what positive education and wellbeing is, how to practice it and how to create positive change in a community.”
Where There’s A Will co-founder Pauline Carrigan applauded the teachers who are volunteering their time to take on the extra studies.
“It is absolutely inspiring to see the commitment of teachers in this district to improving the wellbeing of our children,” she said.
“They are determined to create an environment where children can thrive and we are so pleased that we can help support them achieve that goal.
“All those coloured socks that we’ve seen the kids running around in, all the bull sales, the auctions, the cake stalls, the anonymous donations as well as the contributions from Glencore and Coal & Allied have allowed us to cover the cost of $6000 per teacher to complete the course.
“That’s something I think we can all be proud of.”
Coal & Allied manager environment and community Andrew Speechly said the work of Where There’s A Will to give teachers this opportunity also needed to be acknowledged.
“It is no mean feat to initiate contact with the University of Melbourne, get them agree to travel to the Upper Hunter, round up teachers, coordinate dates and fundraise to make this happen,” he said.
“Our community is fortunate to have an organisation like Where There’s A Will working so hard to deliver initiatives like this that will go a long way to improving the mental health of our children.”
Glencore’s community relations manager Craig Strudwick echoed those sentiments.
“We are proud to support the work of Where There’s A Will and sincerely thank all the teachers who are taking on this extra load to be better able to serve our children,” he said.
“It is exciting to be a part of an initiative that will have such a positive impact on schools from Singleton to Cassilis, Scone to Denman and everywhere in between.”