The Cheshire School news and events
Check out all the latest news from our school!
In past years, the Lions Club of Vermont has been considering further ways they can achieve their mission of helping youths around the world.
Several years ago, a parent wrote to The Lions Club seeking support for the purchase of a new school bus for the students of The Cheshire School. The Cheshire School is a Primary School for children with significant social, emotional and behavioural problems. The program empowers students to make positive changes, which will enable them to successfully return to a mainstream educational setting. The students of The Cheshire School needed the new bus to take them on their weekly excursions. The excursions are an important aspect of the program’s curriculum. They reinforce the importance of behaving well in the classroom, while the excursions themselves are filled with educational opportunities and encourage social development.
On the morning of the 24th of July, years of dedication and hard work paid off. A new school bus for the students and staff of The Cheshire School arrived, ready to take the children on their next adventure. Mayor of Monash, Cr Paul Klisaris was in attendance and watched as the children did a performance to acknowledge and thank the Lions Club Vermont and affiliated Lions Clubs for all they have done for them. The project has special importance to the Lions Clubs, who aim to better the lives of young people within the community. The Lions Club Vermont had previously contributed to the purchase of a bus for The Cheshire School, however, upon learning that the older school bus could be in need of replacement, the Lions Club began to plan ways to help. Learning that The Australian Lions Foundation would match donations if they combined with other clubs, they quickly began enlisting help.
Appealing to other Lions Clubs in the area, Lions Club Vermont received contributions from Ashwood-Mt Waverley, Blackburn North, Box Hill, Forest Hill, Vermont South, Wheelers Hill and the Vermont Lions Ladies Auxiliary, totaling $6,500. The Vermont Lions Club then contributed $8,500, bringing the total funds to $15,000. The Australian Lions Foundation was then approached, and agreed to match the $15,000.
Having now chosen a suitable vehicle, the Lions Club Vermont, led by Mike Milton, submitted a proposal to the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Wonderfully, the grant was approved, and a project, which began years ago, has culminated in a valuable addition to The Cheshire School community. The hard work, dedication and compassion of the all Lions Clubs who contributed, in particular the work of the Lions Club Vermont, has been extraordinary. Thanks to the perseverance and determination of all those involved, the children of The Cheshire School will have a new bus to take them on their next adventure.
Last week, the students of The Cheshire School visited the Kew Traffic School; spending the day exploring winding roads and busy shopping districts. The students navigated the terrain, whilst learning about road safety and being considerate of other ‘drivers’.
The aim of the Traffic School is to prepare young children for driving and cycling road rules, removed from the dangers of the roads themselves. Exploring the miniaturised world around them, The Cheshire School students went whizzing past cinemas, convenience stores and restaurants.
Complete with working traffic lights, storefronts and lane markings, students were faced with the obstacles that face their adult counterparts on the Victorian roads. From slow ‘drivers’ to waiting for the lights to change before driving, the children were perfect examples of how to behave on the roads… their manners would put many adult drivers to shame!
The Cheshire School students’ resilience was tested last week, when their expected excursion to Seaford was cancelled due to extreme winds.
However, as one door shuts, another opens… literally. Excited children ran through entrance of Gravity Zone to the sight of trampolines, tightropes and towering walls ready to be climbed.
The excursions, which occur throughout The Cheshire School term, are an important aspect of the program’s curriculum. They reinforce the importance of behaving well in the classroom, whilst the excursions themselves are filled with educational fun and encourage social development.
Faces shone with excitement as students jumped fearlessly into unknown dangers in the pit of foam and crossed precariously over a tightrope suspended in the air. Triumphant in their victory over the obstacles they had been faced with, the tired explorers returned home to share tales of their daring adventures and expeditions.
The Cheshire School is preparing its students through the practice of ancient techniques.
Specialist Aides Darren Ball and Cyril Jevek have implemented the study of Judo through the Warrior Fitness Program, a recent addition to the school’s curriculum. The traditional Japanese Martial Art focuses on the student’s concentration and commitment, as well as instilling a sense of responsibility for their actions. Uniforms must be kept neat, whilst guided meditation teaches quiet reflection and self-discipline.
Darren recently traveled to Japan to further his studies of traditional Japanese Martial Arts, training and development philosophy, culture and how these have a positive effect on young people. The knowledge accrued from this time has been used to implement the innovative Warrior Fitness program, which has already begun to yield positive behavioural results in The Cheshire School students. During the trip Darren was a representative of Australia, demonstrating Martial Arts techniques for the Imperial Family. He trained for up to 6 hours each day, under some of the highest masters of their discipline in the world.
The trip gave Darren the opportunity to meet with leaders and teachers from Kindergartens and Primary Schools, to discuss the importance of Butoku (Marital Values). Self-discipline and cultural education were also discussed as crucial to encourage children’s emotional and behavioural development. This is furthering the commitment of The Cheshire School Program, to not only change the lives of the children they meet, but to encourage conversation about the steps that must be taken to ensure no child is left behind or forgotten.
However, it wasn’t all work and no play for Darren, whose highlight was the Dai Nippon Sogo Budo Renmei (All-Japan Comprehensive Martial Arts Federation) Embusai (demonstration gathering). He also relished the opportunity to discuss Martial Arts and culture with his 92 year old sword instructor, and present elements of The Cheshire School to other educators.
Having begun his training in 1982 from his father, the school Darren studied with offered a holistic curriculum which encompassed Judo, Jujutsu, Aikido, Karate and weaponry (Bukijutsu). Progressing through the ranks, Darren began to take on teaching roles, which led him to design and deliver programs based on the virtues of Martial Arts training in primary and secondary schools.
Coming to The Cheshire School, Darren and Cyril have brought with them a wealth of experience in the practice of Martial Arts. It has been utilised through the school’s Health and Physical Education program, covering aspects of social, physical, mental and personal wellbeing. Pushing students out of their comfort zones, practicing drills and engaging in physical exercise has proven a huge success. The classes teach children control and patience, and continues The Cheshire School’s objective to equip its students with tools for the future.
“Thank you to Cheshire for changing my whole entire life!”
Graduates and their classmates joined together yesterday morning to celebrate the end of four graduating students’ time at The Cheshire School. With parents, siblings, friends and loved ones gathered, speeches were made that caused many to dissolve in tears as graduate Oliver thanked the teachers at Cheshire for, “changing my whole entire life.”
Ms Barrett and Ms Platt spoke of their students’ time at Cheshire, recounting anecdotes of mischievous adventures. Fellow students presented mementos to their graduating friends, and those saying farewell all thanked their classmates and teachers for ensuring their journey with Cheshire was a happy one. The return of past students to support their graduating friends was a testament to the lifelong friendships formed at the school.
Parents spoke of the challenges they and their children faced prior to arriving at Cheshire, one mother expressing relief at no longer having to take the ‘secret’ way to school to hide from judgemental eyes. Although the accounts varied in the details, one theme rang true; The Cheshire School has changed the lives of their children, allowed them to grow and be loved, creating a safe place for those who had been rejected by their previous schools. Where their previous schools were unable to accommodate their students’ exuberance, the Cheshire School staff celebrated their childrens’ individuality. In one instance Ms Barrett instead of faulting a boy’s queries interrupting her class, celebrated his curiosity, delighting his mother by insisting that his constant questioning meant he was destined to be a lawyer. This was when the mother knew that she had found the right place for her son, “I knew they would love and appreciate you the way we do,” she told her son, before turning to the other parents “our kids can do anything.”
The students of The Cheshire School Program graduate when they are ready to resume learning in a mainstream school setting. Cheshire was described at the ceremony as a “stepping stone” for students’ futures. The school uses a gradual approach to reintegration, ensuring the students are not overwhelmed. The children are slowly reintroduced into mainstream classrooms, whilst continuing part of their school week at Cheshire. As such, graduation brings with it a sense of achievement for the students, who have equipped themselves with the necessary skills and capabilities to prepare them for their future endeavours.
Movember – Cheshire Team grows the Mo for Men’s Health
The Cheshire School team have joined Movember! The team started November clean shaven, but have grown their moustaches for the whole month to draw attention to the Mo’ and raise awareness and funds for Men’s Health.
Movember started in Melbourne as a way for men to lift the stigma on prostate and testicular cancer. For a number of reasons, men often do not get regular check ups for these illnesses, which rank amongst the highest causes of death for men in Australia. Movember has now grown to include mental health as well – often a precursor to many other health factors, and something that The Cheshire School has experience with.
“Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand. They are co-influencial, and we all need to understand this important relationship and raise awareness.” Darren, Specialist Education Support Aid
To follow their journey or to donate, the team’s Mo Space can be accessed here
If children are the building blocks of the future, The Green Hat Workshop’s immersive incursions explore this by focusing on unleashing creativity and encouraging collaboration. The children of The Cheshire School were joined by Cam to participate in PLANKS, a workshop allowing children to explore construction and try their hand at creating.
The Planks childhood education workshops have a long and successful history working with schools and specialist schools to promote harmonious collaboration with classmates through open-ended play. Children discover that their creative capabilities are increased dramatically when they work with their fellow ’builders,’ able to create towers of terror and superb city skylines.
Focusing on gentle guidance in lieu of detailed instruction, The Green Hat Workshop touts the benefits of open-ended play. As the children at Cheshire were delighted to discover, there was little order to their construction, giving them free license on the aesthetics of their buildings. Towers went up painstakingly, level by level.
The day, which explored a variety of literacy and numeracy skills, was enjoyed by students and teachers alike. With laughter ringing through the hall while students’ masterpieces were achieved, the most recent incursion at The Cheshire School was a huge success thanks to the innovative learning experience provided by The Green Hat Workshop.
On Thursday last week, the children at The Cheshire School were in raptures for the arrival of two young AFL stars, Harry and Ben McKay. The students gathered eagerly in the classroom, their guests answering all questions put forth to them (some were perhaps not relevant to their field of work).
“How many marks have you taken?”
How many goals have you kicked?”
“What happens if you lose?”
“Do you like pancakes?”
Nothing was held back as the students launched into their interrogation (read: question and answer session) with the footballers. After the children were satisfied with the answers to each of their questions, they filed out of the room and down to the hall for the real fun to begin. Harry and Ben taught the children how to correctly kick and handball, and before long, innocent bystanders were at risk of being hit by an enthusiastically, if not expertly, kicked football.
Some of the students of The Cheshire School showed off the prowess they had gained whilst attending AusKick and gave the boys a (quite literal) run for their money, for who needs AFL training sessions when you spend the morning chasing after stray footballs? After the children had worn out their guests of honour showcasing their aptitude for the sport; Harry and Ben visited the children in their classroom groups, signing paper, shirts and footballs for their adoring young fans.
R U OK Day is commemorated yearly to encourage the Australian community to engage in conversation, asking the simple yet powerful question,
“Are you okay?”
It is important to recognise that although we may see the same people every day, without engaging with them, we may never comprehend the internal struggles they face.