"I wish the government knew that there is more to schools than academics. Schools can be safe havens where students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to feel supported and valued.
As a teacher of middle school students within the Northern Territory, I have come to understand that the classroom is a microcosm of the real world, and even with my youngest students I can see the pressures of the grown-up world that they are already burdened with. Some of them are the heads of their family, supporting their parents or siblings who are alcoholics or in gaol. I hear kids say racist slurs to each other, who bully each other and fight with each other, and I know they are just internalising and mirroring the worst of their realities, because it’s all they know. For some of these kids, school isn’t merely a place to learn. It is their safe haven. And as their teacher, I feel that sometimes the best way for me to educate them is to not only be their teacher, but to be their person.
Although the themes within 'Romeo and Juliet' are important, so is sitting and talking about our families and plans for the future. Sometimes, class karaoke singalongs and rap battles are what they need more than essay writing and spelling tests. In a world where many of these students face a life harsher than they deserve, it is important to remember that school can also be a place where they can play, have fun, be themselves and feel safe. I tell my students I love them every day, not just because it is true, but because there’s a chance that I might be the only person who tells them that, and it’s something everyone deserves to hear." Hannah, 25, NT.