House goes online

They may be separated by thousands of kilometres and a pandemic, but NRL Cowboys House is staying connected with its students through an innovative support program.

The House’s 104 secondary students are currently undertaking Term 2 home schooling in 23 remote communities, with the House playing an integral role in supporting online and distance learning through its eight Townsville partner schools.

Usually a busy campus buzzing with activity, the House was one of many organisations to have to stand down staff last month in the face of social distancing requirements, with a core group of educators remaining to develop and run ‘House 2.0’ as an interim operating model.

Resource hub

NRL Cowboys House has established its own online platform for home-schooling families to access information, updates and learning material from the eight different schools, a resource that education facilitator Jacinta Foley says is crucial to supporting the families in this challenging period.

“During a ‘normal’ term our House education team and tutors work directly with the students on their individual learning programs covering homework and assignments, subject selection, preparing for assessment and supplementary learning,” Ms Foley said.

“We’re also in continuous contact with schools on areas of focus and progress and are also feeding this back to families in community who have entrusted us with their son or daughter’s secondary education.

“While we’re not currently together in person, our online platform is enabling us to continue to manage our individual learning programs and supporting our students and families for what we hope will be a seamless transition back to face-to-face schooling.”

A central contact has also been established in all communities to assist students and families with accessing technology including connectivity and printers.

Shakia and Kailan – Normanton

Agile pathways

Term 2 sees the NRL Cowboys House career transitions team focused on working with industry partners and training providers to ensure students involved in apprenticeships and school-based traineeships can still meet their vocational goals.

Supported by Waanyi Downer, the career transitions team is also working closely with the House education team to mentor and support students through any uncertainty or concerns as the 2020 school year progresses.

“We have 17 students due to graduate at the end of 2020 and even without the current environment, Year 12 can be a time of challenge for lots of students,” Career Transitions Officer Antonio Winterstein said.

“We’re looking at everyone’s 2021 plan, whether it be further education or employment, to see what we need to adjust to help all of our graduating students stay on track.” 

Mara-Leah – Mornington Island

Wellness & connection

NRL Cowboys House is continuing its wraparound model of care by establishing a remote ‘Wellness Challenge’, focusing on key personal wellness indicators including happiness, kindness, calmness, fitness, sleep and diet.

Students and families are being encouraged to share their “home learning” journey with the House community, and the Boys Learning Centre – supported by Wilson Security – and the Girls Learning Centre –supported by Variety, the Children’s Charity – is set up for regular video calls.

General Manager Rochelle Jones says keeping everyone feeling connected, informed and supported is the foundation of Term 2 at NRL Cowboys House.

“Like everyone, we’ve had to adapt our model and we’ve had to be creative, collaborative and innovative to continue to support our amazing young people on their education journey.”

“A huge thank you to our dedicated House partners, supporters, families and communities whose contribution makes this possible.

“We’re also using the time as an opportunity to implement some initiatives here at the House, including building a Kup-murri pit that will be used for special events and cultural occasions, and we’re looking forward to the time that we can be back here together again,” Ms Jones said.

Antonio Winterstein, Jacinta Foley and Rochelle Jones – NRL Cowboys House

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