A team of local volunteer ethics teachers has been nominated for the 2017 volunteer of the year team award, to be announced on September 4.
Of the five members of the Brunswick Heads Public School Primary Ethics team, three have children at the school while two are community members who were inspired to train to be volunteers for altruistic reasons.
Maryke Bleeker is in her sixth year of teaching ethics. ‘I had done other voluntary work since retiring and when I saw this advertised in the newspaper, I thought: “That’s me.”’
In an era where awards tend to be the domain of self-promoters, this award is extra-special as it’s not open for self-nomination. The Brunswick Heads team do not know who put them forward. ‘It was a total surprise,’ says the team’s co-ordinator, Libby Tooth.
Primary Ethics is a statewide program prompted by parents seeking a way of enabling young people to explore ethical dilemmas.
‘We use reasoned arguments and always look for facts,’ says Lorrie Cruickshank. ‘We explore topics through scenarios and metaphor,’ explains Martin Killips. The current topic is friendship while topics like fairness, forgiveness, laziness and lying are also included.
This team all have teaching and youth work backgrounds, yet this is not essential to be an ethics teacher. The only ‘pre-requisites’ for interested volunteers are enjoying working with children, having a strong interest in learning, relevant police and child safety checks, and being able to commit up to two hours per week in term times (for planning as well as lesson time). Training is provided, including ongoing education and support.
All of the nominated team spoke of how, in addition to giving their time and skills, they gain from their voluntary role. Kate Paige said, ‘It’s a passionate subject and it’s good to know that I’m part of something that’s bigger.’
Other local schools offering Primary Ethics are Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Ocean Shores Public Schools.
Primary Ethics are currently actively recruiting new volunteers to join teaching teams at Byron Shire schools. Brunswick Heads Public School has waiting lists for children to join the program and a full kinder-level group ready to start once an extra teacher is found. Training will be held locally on the weekend of October 14 and 15.
For more information or to register your interest in volunteering visit www.primaryethics.com.au or phone 8068 7752.