OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOOL COMMUNITY
As Head of Learning Environment at Pacific Lutheran College (PLC), Josephine Belchamber has created a popular new subject, increased feedback to parents, led staff improvements and overseen national competition wins by students.
She guides staff in what will best serve the needs of diverse students, including those who are highly able and those with a disability or learning difficulty.
The Learning Enrichment Centre (LEC) is a safe place to work not only on academic goals but social ones too. Students and their families rest easily knowing that LEC staff, led by Josephine, will meet needs and provide opportunities for them.
Josephine also provides opportunities for highly able students with the Da Vinci Decathlon (DVD) and the Future Problem-Solving program (FPS). PLC students regularly make pedestal places for the national finals of the DVD and FPS. In 2019 a Year 9 student won his division of the FPS and represented Australia in the international program.
During the initial outbreak of COVID-19, Josephine led her team to provide individual support to often vulnerable students with diverse needs as they switched to online learning, with positive results.
Josephine created from the ground up a Year 9 elective, ‘Philosophy and Reasoning’, which over the past three years has grown from modest numbers to being regularly oversubscribed.
Josephine consults with families to ensure a clear partnership in achieving the best outcomes for students. Staff reflect in consultation with her about the effectiveness of current purposeful differentiation and how to improve this.
For Head of Middle College Rae Hall, there are individual examples that sum up what makes Josephine Belchamber special.
There was a student who struggled to find their place and settle into the routine of the college. They were often at odds with teachers and disengaged from learning. Josephine was asked to help and reached out to the student by attending a competitive event involving their hobby.
“This acknowledgement of the student outside of their immediate learning challenges was a turning point for the student and their family. This is one of many possible examples of going above and beyond,” Rae says.
A teacher of 17 years, Josephine never lets the sun set on a day without finished updates to families. This includes sometimes having difficult conversations, but always the needs of the student are at the centre of her thoughts.
She is involved in many college events to see her students in action and shape the school community. She participates in the Disabled Surfers program and The Red Shield Appeal.
It can be difficult when dealing with complex needs, for students, carers and staff to always maintain positive engagement and wellbeing.
Josephine is always on hand to coach, to offer new strategies and make adjustments to current practice. She is a relentless champion of her students, staff and families.
“Each student is planned for and expected to flourish,” Rae says.
A compassionate teacher and leader, she sets high expectations and unites people in reaching a common goal, even if at first they did not imagine it was possible.
Congratulations Josephine on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Outstanding Contribution to School Community Award.