Teachers show how the Central West was won

The stories of how teachers and school staff supported their students have been shared and celebrated in the Central West. Vivienne Jones reports.

Image: Rural South and West ED Dean White, Dep Sec School Performance Murat Dizdar, Eugowra PS principal Carmel Doyle, St Joseph’s Primary School Eugowra principal Cathy Eppulstun and Cowra Director, Educational Leadership David Lloyd. The public school has welcomed both the Catholic school and pre-school onto site after the floods.

It was a flood event the students of Forbes, Eugowra, Bedgerabong and surrounds will hopefully never see again.

And when school was one of the last things on their mind, their teachers were still there.

Whether that was in person, through wellbeing phone calls or part of their community doing sandbagging or cleaning up after the waters had passed.

Director, Educational Leadership Cowra David Lloyd said he was joined by teachers from Eugowra Public School, Bedgerabong Public School, Forbes High School, Forbes Public School and Forbes North Public School last week to say thank you for their tireless efforts in supporting their students and community.

“The sacrificial and caring response to the flood emergency by public educators was second to none,” Mr Lloyd said.

“Teachers and support staff in every public school went above and beyond what could ever be expected to support students, their families and wider community.

“For many students, school was and remains the one safe and predictable place remaining in their lives.

“The certainty provided by the security of school routines and personnel has ensured much higher levels of wellbeing than otherwise might have been expected.

“The dinner was a very small token of the appreciation expressed by many in the communities of Eugowra and Forbes.”

Rural South and West Executive Director Dean White said he was “incredibly proud” of the teachers who made sure that the local public school remained the heart of the community.

“Teachers have made wellbeing calls, sandbagged in high heels, cleaned up after muddy waters have receded and sorted Christmas presents for students, all while maintaining learning and giving our children some semblance of normality,” he said.

“They have listened, they have shared tears and they have laughed. Our teachers are the lifeblood of our community, and we thank them.”

Image: Sign of the times: Support was delivered from across the community.

The principals have also banded together to ensure all students, regardless of where they attend school, were supported with a learning environment.

Forbes High School principal Kath Maksymczuk said they were more than happy to welcome Forbes Public School on to their site to “ensure the continuity of learning as well as the wellbeing of all staff and students in the wake of the flood event”.

Eugowra Public School also hosted students and staff from both the local Catholic school and pre-school on to their site after damage from the floods.

Principal Carmel Doyle said they had witnessed overwhelming generosity from near and far.

“The resilience of our staff, students and families has simply been heart-warming and a testament to everyone,” she said.

“The staff of Eugowra Public School have banded together and supported each other, as well as our school and wider community.

“Our focus has been to get children back to school with a sense of normalcy. I have the best staff and team around me.”

Most students were able to get back to school for the last few weeks of term, with a focus on wellbeing and returning to some sort of normality.

In conjunction with the school’s counselling team, additional support was provided including trauma psychologist Rob Spence who visited the Central West at the end of the term.

The counselling teams held “chill circles” for the students to provide an opportunity for them to identify feelings and tell their story to peers in groups of four.

Mr Spence said students took a lot out of these circles.

“They question each other about their experience. They also identify who were their heroes who assisted them,” Mr Spence said.

“The students at Forbes Public School have also created a collage on the fence of their damaged school site displaying who their heroes are.”

Wellbeing support will continue through the school holidays and into Term 1.

Image: A 'thank you dinner' with plenty of people to thank.
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