Tanya McKenzie-Sleeth and Adam Glasson share a motivation to improve secondary education in Greater Shepparton shaped by their own experiences as students, parents and now community leaders.
Tanya, as the new President of Greater Shepparton Secondary College School Council, and Adam, as Vice-President, will help provide oversight and governance for the new school in its first year of operation.
It is familiar territory for both. Adam, a product of Shepparton’s North Tech before its closure, returned to education as a school council member in recent years – serving as President of the Mooroopna Secondary College School Council for the last two years.
Tanya’s old high school has also closed its doors. Tanya’s children were third generation students at the former Shepparton High School, where she served on its school council before also stepping up as President for the last two years.
"I stepped up to contribute and support school council because I saw gaps in engagement in education when I was going to school," Tanya said. "Back in my day paretns weren't really part of the child's education journy and the schools didn;t really encourage them to get involved.
"I want that to change and while it has been challenging, this community is now more engaged in education than ever before, which is a great thing."
With children in Years 1, 3, twins in Year 12 and two others having graduated, Tanya is more than familiar with the Shepparton education system. As a parent who attended discussions about possible school mergers in 2010, and the development of the Better Together Alliance of Greater Shepparton’s secondary schools, Tanya saw improvements in education delivery but not the extent of change she felt was needed.
Adam’s inspiration to join school council stemmed from his Fairley Community Leadership Program experience in 2016 and having a daughter at Mooroopna Secondary College.
“I’ve been a CFA volunteer for many years and when the opportunity came up to join the school council, I thought I could contribute a little more,” Adam said.
Both Tanya and Adam say being part of the Greater Shepparton Secondary College development and its innovation and investment is a unique and historic opportunity.
For Adam, a major bonus will be replacing the tired buildings and outdated facilities of all the existing campuses with a state-of-the-art development. “The students will see an amazing difference and so will the staff, who’ve put up with the old for too long.”
For Tanya, it’s not so much the “bright and shiny” facilities she is looking forward but the learning and development opportunities the merged model will bring.
“I went into hairdressing at 16 and you know what? You could use a $45 pair of scissors or a $2,000 pair of scissors but what mattered most is what you learnt to do with them,” she said.
“What will change with Greater Shepparton Secondary College? It’s the broader curriculum and teaching methods the school will be able to deliver and the support, encouragement and diverse opportunities for our students to get the better outcomes they deserve.
“We’re already seeing excitement without the new facilities,” she said. “The kids are engaged, they look great, they’re arriving on time – I haven’t seen such bright, enthusiastic kids at all the campuses until this year.”
The inaugural Greater Shepparton Secondary College School Council will serve the school community until elections are held for the next council in 2021.