The transformative power of building self-esteem and having the opportunity to experience success at school is highlighted in this story about McClelland College’s Chris Young. The story was published by the local Frankston Weekly.
Chris Young told the Weekly that just three years ago he was spending most of his school hours in the library because of disruptive behaviour.
“I was one of the bad kids. I had to go to the library until recess and then I had to go home. I didn’t make the right choices,” he said.
Chris, now 16, said his outlook changed when Hands on Learning teacher Simon Church introduced him to the program, which focuses on social, trade and life skills.
“On my birthday he took me down to Hands on Learning to have a go on a billycart. It was very fun and that’s where it started. I’ve changed so much since then, I’m not getting into any fights.”
Chris has learned trade skills, including those necessary for building and bricklaying, but most enjoyed the cooking element of the program.
His speciality was chocolate chip scones and he is now working towards a career as a chef.
“I would definitely recommend it. It is a great experience, you get to make a lot of new friends and it is a great pathway to a career in a trade.”
Mr Church, a cabinet maker, said that at his worst Chris was “quite dangerous” but had improved dramatically.
“I thought there has got to be something more for Chris. For nearly 12 months he wasn’t interacting with other students and he struggled with finding an appropriate way to engage. Now we can leave him alone with power tools or in the kitchen cooking.”
McClelland College acting principal Amadeo Ferra said the program enhanced social skills, self-esteem, life skills and improved attendance.
The students cooked for each other, ate together and were in charge of shopping on a budget as well as preparing lunches, while considering allergies and tastes.
“They sit down around a table they built themselves. It is for kids who like to learn in a tactile way and it’s about keeping kids engaged.”
Mr Ferra said the school did not receive government funding for the Hands on Learning program but believed it was worth the hefty price tag in wages, as it had a five to one student/teacher ratio.
The program operates in 24 Victorian schools and has sparked interest internationally.