Kerry Street Community School believes that education is a life-long journey. As such, we value sharing our experience, learning and values within the education community. Over the years we have been honoured to be invited to present at professional learning opportunities and contribute to publications. Read on to hear more about our staff sharing the expertise with fellow educators.
Reconciliation and embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the Early Years
In 2023 two Kerry Street staff had the privilege of presenting at an Association of Independent Schools WA professional learning opportunity, their topic of focus was Reconciliation and embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the Early Years. Jacey Long (Year 1/2 teacher) and Taylah Griffin (Deputy of Teaching and Learning) shared with the group Kerry Street’s Reconciliation journey along with a wide range of practical classroom and whole school examples. Their presentation explored school accomplishments from 2020 – 2023 including publishing our first Reconciliation Action Plan, installation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, developing of a school acknowledgement of country, annual whole school celebrations of National Reconciliation Week, embedding cultural perspectives in classroom experiences and consultation with Indigenous People.
Kerry Street is extremely proud of Taylah and Jacey for their contributions to this opportunity and we are honoured to be invited to take part. We hope that our story inspires others and that attendees were able to take away ideas, strategies and an overall sense of the importance of recognising and valuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
I found it really helpful seeing an example of Aboriginal perspectives being successfully incorporated in a school. Fantastic idea to have the two teachers speak from their context and experience.Attendee Participant
In 2023 Melissa Kennedy visited The University of Notre Dame Australia to present to first year Early Childhood Education students. Melissa shared her journey of cultural experiences including both her personal story, working at Yirrkala Community School a bilingual school in North-East Arnhem Land and embedding Indigenous perspectives at Kerry Street. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss elements presented to gain insight into cultural experiences.
Having Melissa present on her experiences was really helpful. It was good to hear what practices in the classroom are culturally appropriate, as sometimes it can be a bit of a grey area. I found it extremely helpful and interesting.Notre Dame student
As a University lecturer I am always aware that theory does not easily translate into pedagogy and practice for undergraduate students. Therefore, having guest lecturers like Melissa Kennedy come and talk to the students offers them a unique experience and insight. The students were able to hear first-hand from an educator with extensive immersive experience in remote Indigenous communities as well as the philosophical, ethical and social justice perspectives on Reconciliation and the role of schools and educators in this important process. Melissa shared the work of the students, families and educators at Kerry Street Community School offering an insight into the ways that these students may begin their own reconciliation journey. Melissa had a lovely, relaxed presentation style and encouraged conversation and questions about a topic that is often challenging for students and she opened the possibility for several of the students to consider rural and remote placements as well as sharing the unique and valuable experience of working in a small independent school. I am very grateful to Melissa for giving up her time and for sharing her experiences with the students.Samantha Wynne, Senior Lecturer, Notre Dame
Australasian Democratic Education Community (ADEC)
In 2022 Taylah Griffin, our Deputy of Teaching and Learning, attended the Australasian Democratic Education Community conference in Tasmania. This was an incredible opportunity for her to represent Kerry Street, meet like-minded educators and build networks with schools who have similar values. Taylah presented on our Behaviour Guidance Policy and Procedures and in particular, our use of the Non-Violet Communication approach.
Attending the ADEC conference was an absolutely empowering and inspiring experience. I represented the first ADEC member to attend one of their conferences from Western Australia in 22 years since establishment. I was fully immersed in an environment of people who were as passionate about Democratic, Progressive and Alternative Education as I was. I was grateful to be able to share with other educators about Kerry Street, our practices and perspective on democratic education. I also held an Open Space where I shared my understanding about NVC and provided space for other educators to share their feelings and identify unmet needs.Taylah Griffin
It is so much easier to learn about something that interests you and is meaningful and authentic. This is why we believe Inquiry learning is so valuable in education. Over an 18-month period from 2020-2021, Kerry Street staff participated in ongoing professional learning into facilitating Inquiry experiences at our school. In 2021 Jacey Long, Year 1/2 teacher, had the opportunity to share an Inquiry journey that took place in the Year 1/2 class.
At the beginning of the year students dove deep into an Inquiry experience exploring arcade games. They became inspired, and researched and designed their own games. They set a goal for the class to visit a real arcade and raised funds by hosting an ‘Arcade Day’ for the school community. This experience evoked real emotion from the students. Not only did they learn facts about building, advertising and counting coins, they learnt real life skills. They became designers and entrepreneurs and worked hard to achieve a common goal.
At the end of the inquiry, the students took time to reflect and realised that by creating toys from boxes, they were promoting sustainable play. This then led to writing persuasive texts: asking other children to recycle boxes into toys also.
It was such a joy to share our journey with other educators from the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA). I cannot express how immensely proud of Kerry Street I felt during that moment. The more I engage with Inquiry, I realise it is not just a program, it is an attitude towards lifelong learning and a way of being.Jacey Long
Reconciliation Action Plan
In 2020 Taylah Griffin shared Kerry Street Community School’s Narragunnawali Journey at a Reconciliation WA’s Introduction to Developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in a School or Early Learning Service online workshop. Taylah presented to over 100 participants our story of developing our first RAP. She spoke about how we developed our vision for reconciliation, consulted with experts and established our first RAP working group. She also detailed future steps for reconciliation at Kerry Street including connecting with local elders, embedding reconciliation in daily efforts and involving the school community.
Congratulations on a fabulous start to your RAP journey and your contribution to reconciliation in your classrooms, in your school and with the community!Leone Cottam-Williams Reconciliation WA
Journeys of Inquiry
In late 2019, Melissa contributed a chapter on Inquiry pedagogy to the book, Further Journeys of Inquiry, in which she shared her philosophy and practice, along with three Kerry Street case studies. The Journeys of Inquiry series showcases case studies from a range of AISWA schools highlighting stories of authentic learning, child agency and engagement. Melissa’s contribution focused on different types of Inquiry at Kerry Street and ways to engage students and take action in the school and wider community. Kerry Street Case studies includes development of the watercourse, a gardening project and an ongoing Inquiry into stick insects.
Kerry Street Community School prides itself on its project-based pedagogy. Through inquiry-based practice and authentic learning experiences, our students exhibit a deep engagement with their learning and come to know that they can make a tangible difference in their world. Year in, year out, we see children who are more confident to take risks and try new challenges, and who are able to learn both collaboratively and independently. It is our belief that working with and through inquiry provides the opportunities, skills and knowledge that will stay with our learners for the rest of their lives.Melissa Kennedy