Melanie feels confident about starting high school

One of the biggest milestones in any young person’s life is that first day of high school. It is a time of uncertainty: Will I make new friends? Will I be able to keep up with so many subjects? For Melanie though, there is one emotion preoccupying her thoughts as she counts down the days.

“I’m so excited! I’m excited to see all of my older friends from other schools. I’m excited to learn new subjects and not to just have the one teacher. I’m excited to do PE (sport) and to do agriculture in Year 9. I’m also looking forward to science and visual arts, English, history, language and all of that too,” says Melanie.

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Melanie, Learning for Life student

That first year is quite an important year as you have to establish yourself in the groups; you have to get along with the teachers and get to know the teachers.

Judy, Melanie's mum

Judy feels confident that her daughter will take it all in her stride. But she also remembers how critical other students can be. With the help of sponsorship, Judy has been able to set Melanie up with the things she needs to start out on an equal footing.

“I saved the money from our last Smith Family payment because we didn’t have any excursions coming up … and I put $15 or $10 away a week to add to that. So, yes, I have the money now for all of those expenses coming up,” says Judy.

“But it is hard when you are on a tight budget. We go without little certain things every now and then just to save that money.”

Wanting her daughter to feel confident on her first day, Judy knows how far a small treat will go with helping Melanie fit in.

“I like her to have the cool Smiggle pens as a treat that all of the other kids have at school … if they have a few little things like that, it makes a huge difference. I also think that they need to keep up with the other kids in the class. A lot of kids have a lot of stuff, but Mel doesn’t. And she understands that and is still happy with what we have,” says Judy.

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Melanie ready for school

[I used to buy the uniforms] from Vinnies or The Salvation Army … but I don’t have to do that anymore with The Smith Family. Now Mel can go to school in a brand new uniform just like the rest of the kids.

Judy

As well as providing the school essentials, Judy says The Smith Family’s support has helped Melanie finish primary school in a strong position. Through taking part in our 18-week reading program student2student last year, Melanie has been able to catch up and prepare herself for high school.  

“I knew that she was a little bit behind and I was a little bit worried … I just knew that she had a bit more potential than what she was demonstrating. But I was so pleased with the program. It made such a huge difference!,” says Judy.

Reading three times a week over the phone to her trained reading buddy, Andrea, gave Melanie the opportunity to learn without the fear of making mistakes.

“I have more confidence at school. I am more confident about my reading and I don’t get as nervous when I have to read in class,” says Melanie.

Judy couldn’t be prouder of Melanie’s progress and says having a trained reading buddy made all the difference.

I thought initially for her age group she wasn’t reading at the level she should be at. But in just the first two or three weeks of the program, I could see an improvement,” says Judy. “Andrea was amazing … she was so good at guiding her.”

As Melanie excitedly awaits her next big step, Judy is overcome with gratitude that Smith Family sponsors and supporters have given her daughter the chance to realise her potential.

“We wouldn’t be where we are with Mel if it wasn’t for The Smith Family … the pressure is off. We are now relaxed and focus more on her schooling than worrying about what I’m going to feed her or how I’m going to clothe her,” says Judy.

“Knowing Melanie, she will embrace high school and go forward with leaps and bounds.”

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Judy with her daughter Melanie