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Reflecting on what’s important
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An educational sea change

27 Feb 2019

An educational sea change Image

For parents in rural areas, a child’s acceptance into a selective senior high school in the city is both exciting and a complication.

For a year after Sam Stoffel’s son was accepted into Victoria College of the Arts secondary school she spent half her time in Halls Gap and half in Docklands.

“We couldn’t sustain that,” she said.

She was acting principal at Halls Gap Primary School. As a teacher with over 25 years’ experience she valued her son’s course. Now, she’s taken a year’s leave and is in Docklands full time.

She doesn’t know how long she will be here for, but she’ll still be teaching. She’s starting up her own school readiness program as well as tutoring and coaching.

The morning we met, she said she’d just seen some new data on television: “One in five children in Victoria are not ready when they reach schools.”

“I’ve been working a bit at South Melbourne Primary School, but I just identified this need for school readiness,” she said.

“Kids often aren’t ready academically, developmentally and socially when they enter school.”

“It’s causing a lot of angst for parents, and kids that start behind stay behind and fall further behind. I want to be the person who can help.”

Mrs Stoffel said her programs weren’t simply for young children approaching school age, but anyone who was transitioning to primary school at any level. She highlighted the large international community in the area.

And she says the community here was surprising to her and her family. Coming from the small, picturesque Halls Gap “we didn’t necessarily think that was something we’d find in the city”.

“We were very surprised at the sense of community here. I’ve joined the Docklands choir and that’s the best decision I’ve made.”

“I’ve made some amazing friends and I get to go and be uplifted by song with the Docklands community.”

Mrs Stoffel and her family live on Victoria Harbour, an area where she said everyone was open to communicating with you and building friendships.

“We love what the chamber of commerce has done, we’ve gone to some of their programs that they offered over summer,” she said.

The films in the park are a favourite too. Even the water activities attract their attention.

“We can see ourselves maybe getting involved in the dragon boats in the future.”

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