Frances teaches Kindergarten Wombats at St Martin’s Catholic Primary School, Davidson. The class is a specialised pilot initiative by Broken Bay Diocese that’s tailored to the needs of students with a disability. It’s been so successful there are now plans to develop and introduce the program across several schools in the Broken Bay area.
“Our class is made up of 7 incredible young students who have grown and developed so much this year with the support of their parents, the staff and the school community,” says Frances.
“Being the pilot support class in the Diocese, we have had to be creative, innovative, and collaborative. The access points in the curriculum guide our daily learning and each moment of the day is adjusted to the needs of each child to foster a love of learning. It has been amazing and heartwarming to see how the school community has embraced these students, and to see the progress they make every day.”
For Frances, the difference between mainstream and special needs teaching lies in the ‘small wins’ and achievements of each day.
“In mainstream teaching, there are moments when something finally ‘clicks’ for a student, where they achieve a goal they’ve been working on. In special education, these moments happen multiple times a day,” Frances explained.
“I consider myself lucky to witness the growth and development of these children each day. They bring joy, fun, and laughter to every moment and I enjoy coming to school because it allows me to be part of the lives of these special individuals and their families.” Frances is supported by 2 learning support officers, Kerri Zappia and Lucia Smith, who love their work just as much as she does.
“We try to foster an environment where our students love coming to school every day and will continue to love learning throughout their lives. We aim to help our students continue to develop social, emotional and self-care skills that will support them beyond the classroom and try to instil in them the understanding that they are kind, special and intelligent individuals who will accomplish great things,” Frances explained.
As for her legacy, Frances says she hopes to be remembered as a teacher who brought out the best in every child, a teacher who made students feel valued and important, a teacher who showed care and empathy, and a teacher who helped ignite students’ curiosity and love of learning.
Celebrate a teacher in your local community by adding them to the NSW Teaching Gems map: Map | NSW Education Standards
https://www.nsw.gov.au/education-and-training/nesa/news/all/pilot-program-taking-off Pilot program taking off | NSW Government