When you meet 17-year old Danielle, you know this young woman has maturity beyond her years. Danielle’s quiet confidence has been hard-won through discipline, resilience and a willingness to seek and accept support. Now she’s in her final year of high school at NG Central, diligently completing her studies and building a whole lot of employable skills in the process. She’s even taken on the role of School Vice Captain!
But it wasn’t always this way. By her own admission, Danielle wasn’t heading down a great path when she attended a local mainstream school. She struggled to concentrate and improve academically, often feeling like she was just another number among so many students. This sense of frustration in the classroom meant her attendance was sporadic and this disengagement was fuelled by peer pressure and a self-confessed rebellious spirit.
“I didn’t have a great group of friends around me and I was a lot more immature back then. I would miss a lot of school and when I’d attend, I’d end up suspended. We didn’t get to do much practical work and they treated us more like kids, so it was hard to feel engaged and really take it seriously.”
Things started to change once Danielle was referred to NG Central by a school counsellor in 2016. With deliberately small class sizes and a variety of enterprising, practical learning activities on offer, she found it much easier to concentrate, apply herself and seek further clarification when needed. Her favourite subject quickly became English where she regularly focuses on different literary concepts, historical events and personalities as the inspiration for independent research projects. Most importantly, Danielle feels like she can reach out for support on a personal level where her strengths, barriers and aspirations are all viewed holistically.
“You really feel like you can talk to the teachers here and feel sure that they will be non-judgemental. At NG Central, most people have been through similar stuff to you and can understand how you may be struggling. I feel I have more in common with other students and that the teachers see you as an individual and an adult, not a rebellious kid."
Danielle has taken full advantage of the vocational training embedded in NG Central’s curriculum. As our stand-out Hospitality student, she is working towards her Certificate II. She confesses that she thought she knew her way around the kitchen until she began learning from the Hospitality trainer Bruno. An average lesson combines both practical and theory components, from safety and hygiene to planning and preparing three course meals to even selling home-made food to students at lunchtime. Danielle has even secured a nomination for the 2019 NSW Training Awards; an event which celebrates the achievements of senior students engaged in accredited vocational education and training.
Beyond academic and vocational learning, Danielle is eager to take on responsibility to build her soft skills and employability. One way she’s done this is through part-time work, balancing school with not one, but TWO part-time jobs in Hospitality. Add to that her role as School Vice Captain and you can see why her maturity has skyrocketed in recent years. Being elected by her peers was a sign of respect for Danielle and she’s represented them well at occasions such as the 2018 Rotary Gala Ball at Mingara Recreational Club.
What’s next for Danielle? As she progresses through her final year of school, she’s considering taking an HSC pathway and sitting multiple HSC exams. Following that, she’s got her eyes set on travelling, utilising her qualification in hospitality to find work while she explores overseas. And finally, she knows her ultimate job will involve working with animals.
“I’ve always been passionate about animals. I have 9 cats, 6 guinea pigs, birds…you name it. I’d love to get some work experience with a rescue shelter. I may do a TAFE course in Animal Studies to get more qualified and NGC have already given me advice to find the right pathway for me. I always thought I’d be out of school by Year 10, so to have these opportunities now is something I’m proud of."