Hello! My name is Jackie Shiel and I have been the Defence School Mentor (DSM) here at Ferny Grove since 2007.
The role of the Defence School Mentor is to support and assist students of defence force families as they integrate into a new school community. The area in which Ferny Grove State High School is located has a high number of defence force married quarters available. The school has a bus route to these areas and some suburbs are within walking distance.
When students first arrive, it is important for them to have a contact who can introduce them to members of the school community and help them to settle in to their new school. The first few weeks at a new school can be daunting, with new procedures to learn and a different school curriculum. The DSM can liaise with teachers and other staff members if the student is having difficulties, for example, with subjects, and can organise support and tutoring.
If students are finding social interaction difficult, the DSM can be a support person for the student to go to until a friendship group can be established. Some students may not be communicating to their parents that they are unhappy with the move, so the DSM is also a point of contact for the parents, who can be informed of the student's progress throughout his or her first few weeks. This relationship between parents, students and the DSM can be maintained throughout the whole time the student is at our school.
I enjoy getting to know the students and staff at Ferny Grove, as well as being involved in many of the school activities.