Teachers (and students) get schooled on real life

Working with devoted principals and teachers is at the heart of the work we do at ABCN. Leonie White is one such educator, and here she shares her insights on how our programs have impacted her students.

Leonie has been the principal at Thomastown Secondary College in Victoria since 2006, after beginning her teaching career at the college in 1977. She has been involved with ABCN since programs first began in Melbourne in 2007. She believes the experiences that connect young people with the corporate world align with fundamental Thomastown principles. “Our students are encouraged to set high expectations for themselves in all areas of their learning,” she says. “We continue to increase leadership opportunities where exposure to both the corporate and commercial environments is offered at each year level.”

Leonie has strong views on the power of language to influence how her students are perceived, including by themselves: “We ban the word disadvantaged. This sort of labelling does nothing to build morale or identify opportunities. Instead we celebrate the richness of our diversity. We have such cultural diversity from which we can learn and share.”

We asked Leonie what students get out of their ABCN experience.

You’ve been involved with ABCN for a long time. What do you feel is unique about our programs?

I am always looking for opportunities for our students to have appropriate experiences in the real world. The disadvantage most teachers like me have is that we never left school. So, while we have a range of experiences outside of school which we can talk about, what students really need is the opportunity to learn side-by-side from someone currently in the real world. It is only by doing this that students build a specific set of competencies developed through real-life experience.

Why choose ABCN over other partnerships?

We have reached the point where we will access every program that ABCN can offer us. We have students at every year level involved at some stage. From our Year 7 and 8 students working with mentors from Energy Australia developing their interests in STEM, to our senior girls listening to the ways successful women managed their careers.

The reason we do this is because the programs work. The staff are professional. The communication is clear and timely, and ABCN understands and respects that schools have a whole other life to organise. The mentors and trainers are real people who choose to be involved. More often than not the adults enjoy the programs as much, if not more, than the students and students feel that. Young people have an in-built radar that senses insincerity. And finally, while the programs are all targeted at disadvantaged schools it never feels like charity.

What do students gain from meeting a corporate mentor?

Someone has recognised their potential. They have the opportunity to work with someone they never dreamed they would, and to visit their workplace and ask them questions about the work they do and the challenges they face. How many of us had those doors opened at 12 or 14 years of age?

Have ABCN programs led to better student outcomes?

The statistics are very clear. The better the education, the greater the choice of employment, the healthier the individual, the longer the life. So, we strive for this. In 2018, 91.2% of our students who applied for a tertiary place received a first-round offer and 78% of all offers were for universities. Students are not only motivated to achieve, they do.

Thomastown Secondary College is one of almost 200 schools nationwide that ABCN works with to inspire students of all ages to achieve more in their school life and beyond. It’s thanks to the support of these great educators, along with our member companies and mentors, who make it all possible.

array(2) { ["heading"]=> string(26) "get in touch with us today" ["subheading"]=> string(99) "

Please contact us on 02 8988 6850 or by using the form below:

" }

sign up to our free newsletter

Please enter your details below.