Unsung Heroes

This past NAIDOC Week, we had the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the unsung heroes in our communities. These people don’t get the recognition they deserve, but are the ones who are always the first to lend a helping hand.  We want to ensure that our unsung heroes are recognised and appreciated beyond NAIDOC Week.

For those who have heard me speak about my time as Principal at Cherbourg School you will recall that I mention people like Mum Rae, Martina, Pop John, Mrs Langton, Fred Cobbo, Frank Malone, Mrs Gambrill, Aunty Ada and my old friend Hooper. There are so many others who were with me at Cherbourg and I’m sorry that I can’t name them all here. These people were highly regarded and influential in the community and were integral to the success we had at Cherbourg School. They didn’t need a high profile, celebrity status or a flash piece of paper outlining their qualifications, what they offered me was much more.  They assisted me on school and community matters, let me know who was who in the community, who to visit when a child misbehaved, when to go easy on a child because things were not so good at home and when to push harder because they were trying to pull the wool over my eyes. It was an excellent partnership that saw me allied with real authority in the community. It made life as the Principal so much easier, especially when I had to push harder on particular issues.

There are so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people like this working their guts out in schools throughout Australia, often with very little pay but always with the highest degree of passion and love for our children. I am very keen for you to take a moment to honour such people from your own school and community, leave a note to tell everybody who your unsung heroes are.

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4 Responses

  1. And this is where I see the “problem” Chris. Shoving bucketloads of often unwanted cash at communities and “intervention”, when all we need are people who communicate effectively and have a passion about making a school work and function.

    I have a topic I would like to discuss with you one day Chris, but at the moment I am just a tad busy.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks for the kind works my friend.. You, Grace and Michal are true unsung hero as well… With out Leadership and guts to get rid of the “Deadwood” our children will still be leaving High School half through Year 8… R.I.P Brothers Hooper & Blackman..

  3. Chris you say you don’t want to collude in lower expectations of indigenous students so why do you say your success at Cherbourg is measured by “unexplained absences”? Isn’t a school supposed to be measured by acadademic results not just “showing up”?

  4. Steven thanks for your post.

    Of course a school must be measured by academic success! This is why we had the ‘Strong’ which meant proud of being Aboriginal and being from Cherbourg… and ‘Smart’ which meant academic outcomes that are comparable to any other school in Queensland. To this end we made some ground. Year 2 literacy improving by more than 60% within 2 years; Year 7 Reading saw us shift from having all children at rock bottom on the statewide tests, to having 17 out of 21 Year 7’s within the State average band. Of course there was always room to do better.

    And yes, unexplained absences were reduced by 94% within 18 months. This is ‘one’ measure of success, but not the only one. In a school where unexplained absences are so prolific you have to start somewhere. If we had stayed working on this measure, thinking this was success, as you have implied, then this certainly would have been problematic. We knew we had to keep raising the bar, and raise the bar we did. Eventually we moved on from unexplained absences to real attendance at school. Real attendance shifted from 63% in 1998, to 94% in 2004… all of this without threatening to impose on parents’ social security payments.

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