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In this together – celebrities send messages of hope

Sam Wood shares a message of hope for our remote learners

Milica Savic had a pastoral care idea to support Year 9 students stay positive in the final weeks of remote learning when almost everyone else had returned to on-campus learning: video messages of hope from celebrity guest speakers.

With Year 9 students in the final weeks of remote learning when almost everyone else had returned to on-campus learning, I noticed they were losing their spark. As a teacher, that’s heartbreaking to see – and it prompted me to think about ways to provide supportive pastoral care that could really make a difference for them.

I put out the call and celebrities answered, including local legend and fitness guru Sam Wood, legendary Socceroo, Archie Thompson, Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic and many more.

The goal was to post a special video once a week with a special message of advice and support for our Year 9s but with community help we’re posting more frequently on our Year 9 Student Pastoral Team channel in MS Teams.

I’d noticed our students’ moods were low at the end of Term 3 and discussed it with my ex-colleague Craig McFarlane. Craig suggested guest speakers as a good way to boost students’ sense of engagement while still learning online. The goal was to help them see that they’re part of something bigger, that we’re all in this together and that it’s okay to be doing it tough because it is tough, but it’s not forever and we’ve got each other.

I invited our generous celebs to specifically address the Year 9s in their messages. It was important that the students see other people who, like them, are doing it tough, but have taken the time to say they care and by sharing a message of hope. This linked in with our focus this term on wellbeing, community and belonging. My colleague and fellow Homeroom teacher James Carroll then brought in the Zulu idea of ubuntu – that we are humans together – from ubuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ‘I am because we are.’

Students describe the celebrity videos as inspirational. ‘They give me motivation to continue working throughout the day,’ says William Hudolin. ‘It makes my day knowing someone of such high stature has a message personally for us.’ Adds Willem de Vryer, ‘It’s nice that they’re speaking directly to us; it’s a source of inspiration and motivation – and it’s also nice to hear their advice for us.’

Milica Savic is a Homeroom Teacher and French Teacher at Wesley’s Elsternwick Campus.

Watch Sam Wood's message
Watch Archie Thompson's message
Watch Nemanja Matic's message