A lesson from Miss Sam and Miss B

Host: Helen Springs Station
Written by Sam Wood and Belinda Milsom – Governesses, Helen Springs Station.

Miss Sam

To say teaching on a cattle station in the middle of the Northern Territory is a little bit different to teaching in a classroom with on average 28 students would be close to spot on. My name is Sam; I’m a teacher and third year Govy (Governess), with this being my second year working for Chris and Sal here at Helen Springs.

A typical day in our schoolroom often starts for me around 7am with time to prepare the lessons for the kids. More often than not the school day officially starts with a ‘SCHOOL TIME!’ being echoed almost across the station then the kids come racing in. Although this echo doesn’t come from me, we are lucky enough to have some pretty awesome kids to remind each other when it’s time to get going for the day.

And so by now 8am has rolled on in and there’s just bursts of noise and busy work happening in here. Having four kids in our schoolroom means things get pretty busy . . . There are a lot of things to cover! Our kids spend an hour each day, except Fridays, on-air with their classmates and teacher working through their English lesson work. This means they work both over the phone and on the Internet. Luckily we have two phone lines in here and it’s generally non-stop on the phones between 9am and 12 noon. Sometimes it can get a little crazy with laptops and little bodies wandering all over to get themselves online and ready for whatever exciting adventures their teachers at Mount Isa School of the Air have planned.

In between the hustle and bustle of the phone lines being worked in over drive and the Internet signal being received at sometime rapid speeds, we have some fun. Yes, there are the remaining goodies to teach like Maths, Science, and History. Yes, we have days that fly from ‘keep calm and pretend it’s on the lesson plan’. And yes, we have those teachable moments where you just can’t help but laugh, because you’ve soon discovered that pirates rocked up on the shores of Australia way back in 1788 with a cake ready to party . . . ! – History lessons often lead to some pretty creative interpretations. More often than not those moments just keep on. I thought it was bizarrely fitting that the day we made our quiet monsters in craft one day it turned out to be one of the quietest craft lessons to date . . . And yet, the quiet monsters hadn’t even really been born into existence yet!

All in all I’d say in a nutshell as much as a teacher, I learn. Living and working in the same environment over the past few years has been a pretty big adjustment. To say it is as simple as turning off the lights to a clean and prepped classroom ready for the next day, locking the door, and driving back home, wouldn’t be true. I have learnt to develop some pretty quirky routines to mimic those I had once developed working back in mainstream classrooms; now it’s a matter of turning off the lights.

So now the afternoon has crept upon us and the sometimes cheeky good afternoons have been exchanged, it seems only fitting that I end this blog in a pretty similar way to ending the school day . . . It’s time to turn off the lights and step outside and join in on the sometimes imaginative adventures that count as play.

Miss B

Hi, My name is Belinda Milsom and for the past three years I have been working as a governess on cattle stations in the Northern Territory. Last year I was lucky enough to work at Helen Springs as a governess for Chris and Sal. My role this year on the station is a little different, this year I am working for Chris and Sal through In-Home Care, which is a government funded initiative to support families in rural and remote areas assisting with Child Care.

My average day involves preparing school work of a morning for the day. The four kids come in at 8am and from 8 – 10 I work with the youngest child teaching her from the curriculum sent out via school of the air. During this time Em also completes her On-Air lesson with her teacher and classmates over the phone. It is then smoko time for us, and after this we return to the schoolroom to continue working through her work. Lunch is from 12:30 – 1:30, we all then return to school for the afternoon and I continue to work through Em’s schoolwork with her until until approx. 3pm at which time school is out. I then prepare smoko for the kids, help Sal out, and arrange after school activities for the kids. Most afternoons are spent horse riding, which is one of our favourite things to do, fishing down at the creek, swimming, playing sports, riding the motorbikes on the lovely luscious green lawn and mucking around with Peter the Poddy. Each day is a little different and fun especially when the kids offer you their advice on many things.

Working at Helen Springs is a fantastic and fun learning experience. Over the past year I have learnt many different things from Chris and Sal and I have grown to love what I do out here. Throughout the year we have many fun social occasions such as campdrafts, skiing, Ladies Day, swimming at the gorge, Melbourne Cup, and our Friday night BBQ’s. Most weekends are filled with fun with a fantastic bunch of people. And it feels like we haven’t worked a day in our lives because you wouldn’t get this opportunity to work in this type of environment anywhere else.


5.5 Welcome to owl schoolroomWelcome to owl schoolroom.

5.1Jack, Chloe, Emily, Annabelle Towne, Belinda Milsom, Sam Wood, Sally TowneFront L-R: Jack, Chloe, Emily, Annabelle Towne.
Back L-R: Belinda Milsom, Sam Wood, Sally Towne.

5.2 Miss Sam, Annabelle, Jack, Chloe, Emily and Miss B at end of year concertMiss Sam, Annabelle, Jack, Chloe, Emily, and Miss B at end of year concert.

5.3End of year school concert put on for all staff held at our Station Social clubEnd of year school concert put on for all staff held at our Station Social club.

5.4CraftCraft lessons.

5.6 Working hard
Working hard.

5.7Quiet monsters Quiet monsters.