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Meet Jodane; NGC Staff Reflect On Our Decade of Disruption

It is always so special to hear from our alumni and find out how their lives have changed through their time at NGC. But for this special former student, her journey with NGC has turned into a true 'full circle' moment! If you have been following NGC for some time, you might remember Jodane. Graduating from Year 12 in 2018, she was one of three students who sat their HSC exams for the first time in our school's history. Thanks to her exceptional work ethic and the formative experiences she had at NGC, Jodane pursued Community Services after school and even completed a Diploma in Case Management. With a strong desire to support other young people who had been in similar situations to her own, she knew that NGC would be the perfect place for her to realise this ambition. Fast forward to today and Jodane is employed as a full-time staff member. She now assists with educational support and VET coordination and teaches our Certificate III Retail class. We sat down with Jodane to talk about her high school memories, why she wanted to return in this new capacity and how her own lived experience helps her connect with our young people.

What was it like being a student here at NGC back in the day?

Coming to NGC was the best thing I ever did. Before this school, I struggled to progress academically and maintain my attendance. There were a lot of pressures I was experiencing in my personal life too. I was never someone who fit into the box of mainstream education, so being in this holistic learning environment was an amazing opportunity to grow. It felt refreshing to come to a place where I was truly appreciated and seen as a whole person.

I was able to achieve things I hadn't ever thought possible, like sitting my Maths and Primary Industries HSC exams. The staff were incredible; they supported me in so many ways and made everything very flexible so I could stay on top of things and graduate.

I think NGC gave me the confidence and aspiration I was missing. When I was a student, I had a pretty rough outlook on life and what I could achieve. But people like Andrea and Cameron told me that I was going to do great things. It took me a while - even after I left school - to fully believe that. Once I did, I realised that I can keep bettering myself and be more than a product of my environment.

What did you do after finishing school?

After I graduated, I decided to get my Certificate II and III in Community Services. I always knew that I wanted to help people and provide the kind of support that I benefited from in my own life. I'd been able to find these role models at NGC; adults who were really making a difference for young people who were struggling.

I went on to complete a Diploma in Case Manager and was able to do my mandatory work placement here at the school, under the guidance of Lee T. That was a pretty full circle moment because Lee had been the Case Manager when I was a student and now I was getting to learn from her in a new way.

What brought you back to NGC and what is your role today?

When I achieved my Diploma, I had a few jobs which included a role in out-of-home care. I didn't really resonate with it because it felt like you had to work within this big, clunky system. That's when I started thinking about returning to NGC. Having been a former student, I knew that flexibility was one of the core values and that the school is always open to finding new and alternative ways to engage young people. When I was successful in getting a job here, it felt like I was in a position to make genuine change and support students to learn skills that would benefit them for their life beyond school.

I wear a few hats at NGC. One of my roles is Education Support, which involves working one on one with young people in the classroom and assisting them with reading and writing. It also includes supporting them when they need to take a break or de-escalating situations when someone is experiencing something tough. I love this so much and it has been amazing to build a really strong rapport with our young people. My lived experience is valued here; students know that I have been in the exact position they're in now and it means they can relate to me on a different level.

Additionally, I am a VET facilitator for our Retail class. We focus on everything from hair, make-up and nail tech to learning customer service skills. They are an amazing group and I am supporting some of them to work through the HSC course, complete work placements and achieve their Certificate III in Retail. I have also been able to take on responsibilities as a VET Coordinator, which involves overseeing the programming, materials and assessment for all our vocational education and training courses.

What is so special about NGC?

I feel like I can answer that from the perspective of a young person and a staff member. If I was speaking to a potential student who was considering NGC, I would tell them that it's honestly not like anywhere else, even other alternative school settings. It's a completely different approach to learning. There is such a focus on life skills beyond school so that you are actually prepared to get a job, build a career and participate in your community and the real world.

Now that I work here, it has been so wonderful to get to know the teachers as an adult. They mentored me when I was growing up and now they are doing it in a totally new way. The team is very special; they are always willing to give each other and the students any support needed. Everyone comes up with creative strategies to engage our young people and pools their strengths together so we can achieve great things.

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