UWA Music Students teach the teachers in Challis Primary School

UWA Students Peyton Hawkins and Chelsea Davis have discovered first-hand how quick-thinking and versatile primary school teachers must be by travelling to Armadale every Thursday to assist Challis Primary School’s music teacher, Simon Blanchard. They work closely with Mr Blanchard and his primary school students to create an innovative music engagement program, which they then deliver at the school every Thursday morning.

Student teacher Chelsea says it’s wonderful to be part of bringing music into these students' lives. “My experience at Challis has shown me how willing children are to be involved in musical activities, and be rewarded by it,” Chelsea says. “Music can be enjoyed by everyone, not just students who are at the top of the class academically, or who already have some experience in music.”

Fellow student teacher Peyton agrees saying one of the most rewarding things about their experience at Challis Primary School is seeing firsthand how music education really can make an impact on the kids. “They've gone from being unengaged, to being enthusiastic and excited about learning more and being at school,” Peyton says. “Even just over one term, the difference in the kids has been great to see and I'm sure it'll only continue to get better as the music program at Challis gets stronger.”

Mr Blanchard says the students have taken to teaching like “ducks to water”. He believes the program is mutually beneficial – he and his classes benefit from the fresh ideas and musical expertise the UWA students bring to the classroom and Peyton and Chelsea gain invaluable teaching experience. “I don't come from a music background and so having them both in the class has been really helpful to me,” Mr Blanchard says. “They've given me a lot of ideas about how to change things around and I'm drawing on their music skills to improve my music lessons. Meanwhile I'm helping them develop their teaching skills. “I've given them plenty of opportunities in the class to run short sessions to give them the exposure that's so important when you're getting into teaching.”

Peyton and Chelsea have also realised the dedication and hard work that goes into being a classroom teacher. They’ve learned valuable lessons which, along with their exposure to a real classroom, will prepare them for their future teaching careers.

This initiative was identified through Challis Primary School’s partnership with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA. Alongside the music engagement program, Challis Primary School has also hosted three interns through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship Internship Program.

Do you want to make a difference in your community? Find out more about McCusker Centre for Citizenship internships here