Kelsey Woodards is eager to get into the classroom putting her learnings into action.
Kelsey started volunteering for Playford 10, a City of Playford project that works with year 4 and 5 students to connect them to ongoing activities, in 2020.
She first found out about the program when she enrolled into her teaching degree at the University of South Australia.
“I reached out instantly, this is exactly how I want to contribute to the community – this is exactly what I want to do,” she said.
Playford 10 works with students at Elizabeth Grove and Elizabeth Vale primary schools linking their talents and strengths into sports, arts or volunteering activities in the community.
Kelsey has supported the project in after-hours school activities such as drama, basketball, tennis and gaming.
The experience of working with children in the early stages of study has helped build her confidence.
“It’s helped in terms of behavior management and understanding children,” she said. “It can be quite overwhelming when you are in your classes and they tell you what it’s like in the classroom and working around children. “It gives you a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be around children.”
Her passion to work with children is undeniable, wanting to be a positive influence and inspiration in these young people’s lives.
“At the end of the day they just want to know that you care and then you can connect with them – that is the biggest take away I have got from this experience,” Kelsey said. “If you show that care and love within your lesson, within your class, you’re going to be able to make a difference.”
And it is through this passion that the young teacher-in-the-making has gone on to gain employment with the Playford 10 program and has also started tutoring.
“It feels like I am the right place, it is where I am meant to be and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and it feels great I can do that while I am studying,” Kelsey said. “It’s important to have that experience working with the community because there is something more we need to do for some kids outside the classroom, so I am glad I can contribute that way.”
Karen Inwood, Lecturer of Arts Education at the University of South Australia, said the volunteering program helped student teachers understand the educational model and support in planning, adaptability, practical lessons and networking.
“Playford 10 offers a lot more natural, organic flow between these student teachers and the participants,” Ms Inwood said. “They are coming up from that grassroots level with a greater depth of understanding and a more lateral understanding of what it is to be an educator because education doesn’t always happen in a classroom. So they will have much more of a sense of the openness in education and they are going to have that confidence.”
Dr Bindi MacGill, Senior Lecturer UniSA Education Futures, said it provided pre-service teachers with an understanding on how to build long term relationships with students in schools that require different needs.
“It is a really important place for our pre-service teachers to really understand and contextualise the lived realities of those students that they are working with,” Dr MacGill said. “A long term sustainable practice that not only transforms our pre-service teachers lives, but they understand and are connected to the community in a way that will continue for generations.”
The Playford 10 Project was designed from the research report Playford Youth – A New Story which highlighted the need for young people in the north of Adelaide to be offered opportunities to develop their life skill capability. Through activities such as music, creative arts, sport and volunteering, young people can develop social skills, improved communication, team work, creativity, problem solving and build their social capital. These activities are also known to improve the development of strong, trusted relationships with mentors and role models.
Playford 10 connects children aged 10 to ongoing activities. The project team works within schools with Year 4/5 students to identify their individual talents and strengths and link them into sports, arts or volunteering activities in their community.
City of Playford's Playford 10 program is a partnership between:
- South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS)
- Department of Human Services
- James and Diana Ramsay Foundation
- Wyatt Trust
- local schools, arts, volunteering and sporting clubs
The project team are happy to hear from local groups who are interested in becoming part of the project.