Maui Carlson, Zachary Zeloda, Mia Harb and Dion Iacobucci are all alumni of William Ruthven Primary School, so it came as no surprise that they were all enthusiastic about returning there to do their Youth Challenge volunteering.
Mia seemed to summarise the feelings of the WRSC team when she explained that it feels really good to give back to the school and the teachers that have given these students such a good start in life.
At times, the WRSC team of volunteers were placed in particular classrooms, but on the whole they took on flexible roles, doing work for a variety of teachers. Maui lists a wide range of administrative tasks undertaken by the students. Laminating, sorting student work into folders, stapling assignments, sorting portfolios … the work seems endless.
“We go from teacher to teacher, taking up the slack”, he says.
Maui has found the relationship aspect of volunteering easy.
“Getting on with the students and teachers is easy. I see my job as creating opportunities for the people I work with”.
Maui’s positive outlook should sit him in good stead in what he hopes will be his future career, forensics.
Zachary’s work has focussed mainly on Stephanie Menikou’s Grade 5/6 class. Zachary already has an after school job at KFC, so he has a realistic understanding of the responsibilities of an employee. This goes some way in explaining the glowing assessment he earned from his supervisor.
“He has a good nature, and just has wonderful way of speaking to the students. He is excellent at following instructions and quite frankly his work has been brilliant.”
Zachary endures the theory work associated with Y Challenge, but wishes that both weekly periods could be given over to the practical volunteering.
“I’ve loved the freedom and the responsibilities I’ve been given,” he says. “If I can do Y Challenge next term, I’d like to try to get an even more challenging placement.”
Similarly, Dion finds it easy to interact with the younger children and thrives on the fact that the children love talking to him.
“As well as the WRSC team of volunteers, there are also helpers from La Trobe University,” Dion says.
“But what we’ve noticed is that the little kids seem to interact better with us. Maybe it’s because we are closer to them in age”.
While Dion enjoys the work, he doesn’t view it through rose-coloured glasses.
“It can be really challenging to work with students at such different ability levels,” he says.
“They have different abilities and need different support. Of course there is also the issue, on rare occasions, of dealing with behaviour”.
Dion loves creative arts and particularly music and is thinking about offering to take his instrument to the primary school and asking his supervisor, Ms Marcon if there is a way of working music into the more relaxed program that the school runs on Friday afternoons.
While some of the WRSC volunteers have found it easy to interact with the younger students, Ms Khaazal noticed that Mia needed more time to get into the swing of the classwork.
Mia’s way into the volunteering placement was through the myriad administrative duties that Ms Khazaal passed over to her. Mia was pleased to help.
”I think there aren’t enough hours in the day for a class teacher to do all the jobs, let alone give the younger students the help they individually need,” she says.
“I think it’s good for the children to have different people in the classroom, so they can learn to get over their shyness and learn to ask for help without being scared.”
Mia’s passion is photography and she is already wondering if it might be possible to go into a field like childrens’ portraiture.
– Report by Lillian Leptos