Meet the team: Blacktown North

Behind the scenes of each Educational Pathways Program school group sits an experienced, passionate and dynamic team. In the first of our ‘meet the team’ segments, we head to Blacktown North and speak to Head Teacher Careers Lynette Tuckwell, SBAT Engagement Officer Kim Butler, and School Administrative Officer Jonelle McDonell. Find out what makes their school group unique, why they chose to take on these roles, and what makes them feel supported in their day-to-day work.

Behind the scenes of each Educational Pathways Program school group sits a dynamic team, which includes the Head Teacher Careers, SBAT Engagement Officer and the School Administrative Officer. In this recurring segment, we will highlight the people in these roles who are working to ensure students are provided with comprehensive careers education and vocational training support.

The Blacktown North group of schools includes six schools in the Western Sydney region: Seven Hills High School, Quakers Hill High School, Wyndham College, Riverstone High School, Plumpton High School, and Rooty Hill High School.

Overseeing the Educational Pathways Program’s objectives in this group of schools is Lynette Tuckwell, Head Teacher Careers, Kim Butler, SBAT Engagement Officer, and Jonelle McDonell, School Administrative Officer.

We spoke to Lynette, Kim, and Jonelle about why they chose to take on these roles, and what makes them feel supported in their day to day work.

What interested you about this role?

Lynette: As a Careers Adviser for over 30 years, I am always looking for ways to make a difference with the students in my care. This role is one where I believe I can add value to the successful transition of many more students across a wider area. I was, and still am, excited about the connections I could make across Western Sydney to support our often-undervalued young people. It seems to be working out so far!

Kim: Having the opportunity to assist students in considering their future career and an SBAT that will work with their educational pathway. To then be able to be a small part in guiding them through their SBAT is a privilege.

Jonelle: I've always wanted to work within the Department of Education and this role sparked interest as it allows me to work with teachers, students, admin staff and external departments.

What experience are you bringing to the team?

L: I am a mother, a mentor, a tutor, a strong Western Sydney woman and a Careers Adviser of 35 years. I have the skills and experiences to match.

K: I have worked in the VET (Vocational Education and Training) industry for around 15 years. My previous roles have been in adult education before commencing with the Department of Education in September 2020 as an SBAT Officer. I also have the experience of my daughter’s educational backgrounds - TAFE and university. I use their pathways often when speaking to students.

J: An extensive administration, communications and people background.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role?

L: I will make a positive impact on as many young people as I can by supporting the staff in my schools to provide innovative and extensive opportunities for the successful transition of students.

K: I hope to be able to strengthen the intake of SBATs and assist students to remain in their SBAT and complete it successfully. I would like students to appreciate and be excited about learning in an area they are interested in.

J: I hope to provide support in the best way possible so the programs and initiatives are successful and can continue in the future for more students and schools.

Are there any opportunities or challenges that are unique to your schools?

L: Of course, the staff are always busy and my challenge is to provide opportunities without adding to that workload. Times are tough!

K: In Blacktown North, we have specialist vocational education facilities opening up at Seven Hills High School. I am hopeful that this may encourage students to enrol in the qualifications on offer which will assist me in promoting SBATs. I don't believe the challenges are unique to my schools and communities however getting the students excited about thinking about their career opportunities is proving a challenge at some of the schools.

What are you most proud of since starting in your role?

L: The people I have met, worked with, and encouraged and the students that I meet every day in our public schools. They are awesome young people!

K: I am proud of the positive connections I have made with the current SBAT students and staff in schools. I have been made to feel really welcome in most of my schools and I look forward to working with all my schools and presenting a positive experience.

J: The connections I have made with other support staff across different schools.

What do you enjoy doing on the weekend?

L: Enjoying my friends, family, and home.

K: Sleeping in and spending time with my girls. We spend heaps of time together - netball on a Saturday, going for drives, shopping up a storm or chilling, watching movies with a glass of wine. I am very lucky that they want to hang out with me.

J: I have 3 children that all have different commitments. I am heavily involved in my local netball club. I enjoy watching my children play their sports but also sitting with them in the sun at home and just talking about nothing.

Where is your favourite place? This could be anywhere - a holiday spot, special restaurant or the patch in the backyard that gets just the right amount of sun!

L: My new pool, but not until the weather warms up. I have enjoyed my time in Fiji and on Norfolk Island this year.

K: I love being at home. It is the place that I feel most rested and at peace. My favourite holiday spot would be Nelson Bay. My best friend lives there, so it is like my second home.

J: On my back veranda with the sun shining down with the kids and animals all happy and laughing.

For our binge watchers or book readers - do you have any recommendations for TV shows, movies, or books?

L: All-time favourite… Breaking Bad. Who has time to read?

K: No real recommendations. I do look forward to other people’s suggestions. I tend to flick through Netflix and just come across a series.

J: Sweet Magnolias, The Good Doctor, and The Resident

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