Ardoch honoured by Ardeer PS

When: 15 Dec 2023

Yesterday (Thursday 14th December) Lisa Jones was honoured to head to Ardeer Primary School to receive the Val Maaten Award on behalf of Ardoch. The school presents the Val Maaten Award to a member of the school Community each year, who exemplified Val’s efforts, care and support of others, and for continuous service to the school over many years.
Val was a tireless supporter of Ardeer Primary School and volunteered and managed the school canteen for decades. She always had a smile on her face and her interactions with staff and students were always so supportive and caring. Val’s support of any fundraisers at the school were outstanding and she was legendary for selling huge numbers of Easter Raffle or Christmas Hamper tickets. It is fantastic to see a fabulous volunteer honoured in such a way. Her efforts only amplify the benefits of volunteering not just for the volunteer but also for the community around them.
Ardoch has been working with Ardeer PS since 2007. Like so many other schools at the time we started with donations. Be they monetary or practical items such as books, stationery packs, or food among other things. We have supplied volunteers not just for in classroom support but for school events as well. Over the years we slowly transitioned to supplying them with the array of programs we have now. In the last 2 years we have supplied them with 3 Education Volunteers, 2 Learning Through Lunch Programs, 1 Writer in Residence Programs, 2 Aboriginal Music Performances with Didgeridoo Australia, 2 Whole School Art Projects with Didgeridoo Australia, a Robotics Club program, an Australian animals incursion with Wildlife Xposure, as well as a Writer in Residence program.
Below is some feedback we have received from Students, Teachers and Volunteers on the programs we spoke to during 2023
“I don’t want it to end!” Student, Robotics Club
“They all have a new found love of robotics and coding.” Teacher, Robotics Club
“Coming back from the session, one grade 4 boy said ‘I think that’s the best thing we’ve ever done in that room!’ This from a student who is a reluctant participant in our Art program.” Teacher, School Art Program
“Thank you for another wonderful opportunity to enrich the lives of our students. We love that you care about our kids as much as we do.” Teacher, School Art Program
“Our collaborative artwork was so fun, creative and meaningful. Ganga is amazing.” Student, School Art Program

“Student became comfortable very quickly being in their safe school environment allowing them to engage in conversation regarding career and recreational interests. Helping to build their confidence and social skills.” Volunteer, Literacy Buddies
“One student wanted to continue writing letters and stay in touch with their Big Buddy (they were let down gently!).” Volunteer, Literacy Buddies
“Brimbank would like to do this again next year :)” Volunteer, Literacy Buddies
“You can’t it was the best program I have ever done.” Student, Robotics Club
“Watching the edigins (Edison, Robots) actually work after coding them.” Student, Robotics Club
“The coding was interesting because I could see the way technology worked. It was very fun and our school was lucky because most people don’t get to experience that” Student, Robotics Club
“Please keep doing these things for us and other kids too.” Student, Aboriginal Art Program
“Keep on making people happy I loved it keep on going” Student, Aboriginal Art Program

The below testimonial that highlights the benefits of the partnership between Ardoch and Adeer Primary School.

When somebody walks into your office and announces they can do great things with and for your school, the first response is to be sceptical. After all, how many people can actually live up to their promise? When our first Ardoch LincS coordinator, Katia, met with us in 2007, our response was the same.
Unlike all others though, Ardoch has been true to their word from the very start. They have made a significant difference in so many ways to our students, their families and our school and here we are a decade later still very grateful and enriched by all Ardoch does. Over the years, we have been the fortunate recipients of countless donations from Ardoch and their supporters.

For several years now we have been part of Ardoch’s Literacy Buddies pen pal program. From day one it has been very popular and successful with every class which has been able to participate. There are huge smiles and eager faces when the first letters arrived and, for most of our students, it is the first handwritten correspondence they have ever received. Very quickly, the standard of writing improves across the grade because children are writing for a purpose; having someone who is interested and having something to call their own makes the world of difference. The reciprocal visits are highly anticipated and always successful for both big and little buddies.

Over the decade students, families and many of the staff have come and gone but the need remains. Ardeer remains a very vulnerable area in a vulnerable municipality. Its highly diverse population has many needs and, as a school, we work hard to address as many of these needs as possible. The successes, and there are many, are only possible when we are supported by others.

Changes have taken place at Ardoch over the ten years. As with any organisation, staffing, funding and the structure changes means a new outlook, reprioritising, new opportunities. We are thankful that with every change Ardoch has made, Ardeer has still been in their plans. Our partnership with Ardoch is unique and flourishing and, at renewal time, there is never any doubt that we won’t be continuing. Ardoch supports us in ways which others cannot and do not. As a small school, we are just not capable of accessing the resources Ardoch can. We know this as before Ardoch came on board we had tried and failed continually. We all know that money for any organisation, be it a school, youth foundation, corporation, is finite. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and we have to prioritise what we do and what we spend. We also know that data is essential and there are productivity demands and financial reports to the stakeholders.
However, some things cannot be measured by a chart or score. A child who is no longer hungry and can concentrate on their work is a win. A child who has a smile ear to ear because they got to visit the zoo for the first time is not a statistic. A child who is eager to come to school because their buddy’s letter will be there cannot be documented in a graph. A child who was able to brush their teeth or wash their hair making them feel good is a great achievement but not listed in a data set. A parent who cries as I hand them the emergency food supply bag because they can feed their kids that night (and couldn’t the night before) stays with me but isn’t logged anywhere.
These things are the very personal moments our partnership with Ardoch creates. The dollars, the equipment, the time sheets, the deliveries, the supportive and caring staff are all very important and very much appreciated but it’s these moments which are the most powerful. It is the humanity. It is lives intersecting and all the positives which spring from it which remain the inspiration for the work we do with our students and families and why we keep Ardoch as a part of our school. We would sincerely like to thank all supporters of Ardoch Youth Foundation, especially the Besen Family Foundation. Your ongoing generosity has made a huge difference to the lives of our children and our community and you have touched more lives than you could ever imagine. Thank you. Janette Cronin, Ardeer