Small school success

Host: Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association
Written by Michelle Eulenstein

Save the date for the 2018 Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association Federal Conference to be held in Canberra, August 1-2. This promises to be a great conference! Find all information at this link:  #ICPAconf18

Michelle Eulenstein grew up on Magnetic Island in Far North QLD and fell in love with a farmer at the Goondiwindi Picnic Races. Phill, Michelle and their two children live on the family farm “Boola” in Northern NSW where they farm grain alongside Phill’s parents. Michelle is the secretary of the Moree Branch of ICPA.

Tulloona Public School, in Northern New South Wales, has eleven enthusiastic learners from seven families who work in the farming industry in one way or another. From cattle to broad acre farming, we live and breathe our unique lifestyle. Our families have a passion for the land and the amazing childhood that our children are privileged to experience. They are just as passionate about our local small school that not only nurtures our children’s love for farming but also takes them all over the world during lessons to broaden their horizons. As far as I’m concerned we’ve hit the jackpot in terms of education!

First day of school for 2018.

Despite our numbers we are represented well by a number of students in zone carnivals and sporting events and this year that has included swimming, cross-country and rugby league. We began the year with a cracking start during the Macintyre swimming carnival when for the first time in a really, really long time we had enough students to compete in the inter-school relay!

Our once in a lifetime relay team!

During Term 2, it was our turn to host the Macintyre Cluster of Schools Cross Country and the kids had been training for most of the year. We had over one hundred parents and children attend from Bonshaw, Yetman, Croppa Creek, Boggabilla and North Star. The families from surrounding schools have enjoyed a bond that was developed during our children’s preschool years. Events such as these bring everyone together again creating a strong network of friends in our spacious neighbourhood. The course included a lap around our dusty oval and then a run down to the creek and back for the younger children; and a bonus lap around the paddock for the older children. Once again, our children put in their best effort and we ended the day with some fabulous results with some students then heading onto the next level at North Star.

The Kindergarten students giving it their best shot.

Two of the four students who went on to represent our school.

Not only are our children given the opportunity to achieve their sporting goals but they also get to experience really exciting learning experiences such as a Skype session with children’s author Tristan Bancks and ACO Virtual at the Bank Art Museum Moree.

During our visit to Yetman Public School, in May, students from two other schools and ourselves were privileged to do be a part of a workshop over Skype with one of their favourite authors, Tristan Bancks. He gave us inside information on some of the strategies he uses when he writes novels and left the children so inspired that they wrote some fantastic opening lines for future stories that afternoon. We have a local writing competition called the Macintyre Young Writers (MYW) and this workshop was part of their collaboration with local schools to enrich our children’s writing through expert workshops. MYW President, Wendy Forsyth, was just as excited as the children to get started on some ideas she got during the session. All the students learnt so much from this session and were very grateful to Mrs Forsyth and her committee for the opportunity.

A few days later the Tulloona students went on an excursion to the Bank Art Museum Moree to experience ACO Virtual where a virtual orchestra was projected onto walls. They could choose different instruments from the orchestra and listen to individual parts of compositions by selecting a musician. My daughter came home with so much information on the types of instruments she saw and listened to. She was so excited about what she had learned that we had to do some research at home and listen to some of the instruments so she could tell me all about it. It was an amazing experience for our country children who would not get many opportunities to experience an orchestra.

We truly have an amazing school thanks to all the hard work that is put in by the teachers and support staff. I am a member of our local Isolated Children’s and Parents Association (ICPA) and I joined because I have a real passion for giving our children the best possible education no matter where they go to school. We’re not even half way through the year and look what our students have achieved and experienced thanks to connections between small schools in our cluster, internet access and our local community being committed to bringing experiences to our rural areas. Past ICPA members have worked hard to support rural, regional and remote education and it will take hard work in the future to maintain it but it’s absolutely worth it when you get to experience firsthand what is happening in these amazing classrooms!