OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOOL COMMUNITY
A dedicated belief that all students have the right to, and can, learn, has led Nambour Special School (NSS) music teacher Chantelle Amson to provide her students with school fetes, days at water parks and the opportunity to share the spotlight with other schools in Chorale Spectaculars.
Every week she is involved with the NSS’s choir, ‘Sing Sign Sway’, where students can contribute their ability to sing, sign key words or convey the joy of music through swaying or facial expression.
Every second year ‘Sing Sign Sway’ perform at Chorale Spectacular with mainstream primary and secondary schools. This is a huge undertaking and an invaluable achievement for them, thanks to Chantelle.
She ensures accessibility with organisers, raises funds to hire suitable transport, organises support staff and prepares the students. This includes arranging local schools to come and perform for NSS students who then learn the protocol of being a good audience member.
Chantelle coordinates the school’s Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) program and in 2019 NSS was awarded PBL Demonstration School status.
Chantelle has recently been asked to join the leadership team of the regional special schools PBL Community of Practice; this will allow her much wider scope to reduce negative issues for students with significant disabilities.
In recognition of positive behaviour choices by students, ‘Gold Pass Day’ creates a water park on the school oval – complete with a gigantic water slide. For many students, this is their first real opportunity to take part in such an experience, as community water parks can be inaccessible and overwhelming for some, creating sensory overload.
Chantelle also organises NSS’s ‘Market Day’, the school’s biggest event of the year, giving students their very own school fete experience. This too includes working with various stakeholders and making sure prior lessons align with curriculum and the activities planned.
Deputy Principal Adrienne Ford says that three quarters of the students at NSS have at least two verifiable disability areas, and Chantelle continually finds unique ways to involve all students in events and activities.
“Chantelle has always gone ‘above and beyond’ in creating and implementing engaging activities for students, with consideration for their unique abilities and access requirements. Her assessment techniques are creative and allow each child to demonstrate their skills in a personalised way,” Adrienne says.
Some parents/carers are located 50 kilometres from school; Chantelle works hard to engage them and carefully plans events involving them. It is not just an opportunity for the parents/carers to meet with school staff and their students’ peers, it is a chance to meet and discuss with fellow parents the unique challenges they face together. In her PBL role, Chantelle provides support for parents who request ideas for managing challenging behaviour at home too.
“Chantelle is a ‘builder’. She continually contributes to the educational and social-emotional growth and wellbeing of the students, staff and families in the school. She believes in the students and wants the best possible outcomes for them,” Adrienne says.
As the Junior Primary cohort leader, she helps staff improve their practice and their support of students.
As a PBL expert, she keeps up-to-date on the latest research, implements new programs and provides professional development. She is linked to professional networks and has provided support to other schools and presented at state conferences on PBL and special education.
In outcomes directly related to her role from the 2019 NSS Opinion Survey, many categories around student, staff and parent satisfaction showed 100 per cent.
“Chantelle always operates from a position of being solution-focussed. That we can make it happen,” Adrienne says.
“We just need to find the right access tools.”
Congratulations Chantelle on being selected as a finalist for a TEACHX Outstanding Contribution to School Community Award.