A Katherine teacher has been acknowledged for her efforts in building student attendance through the game of rugby league.
Shortlisted for the NRL Teacher of the Year Award, Kiera Lansdown’s Clyde Fenton Primary students have also shown significant behavioral improvements.
It is the students with the lowest attendance rates who have benefited most, she said.
“For some kids, being in the classroom isn’t their favourite thing,” Ms Lansdown said.
“They love the sport, so we’ve seen a lot more kids making the effort to attend school to play.
“Once they are in a team you also see a change in their friendships and they way they interact with one another, and that filters into the classrooms,” she said.
Since introducing the game to her physical education classes, sport at Clyde Fenton has become a tool in building confidence and engagement.
With the success of her P.E classes, Ms Lansdown implemented Girls Play Sport, a Monday lunch time activity aimed at enticing girls onto the field.
“We noticed a big difference between the amount of boys and girls playing sport,” Ms Lansdown said.
“Boys were just guns at all sport, while girls had the talent but were quite shy.”
So far Girls Play Sport attracts about 25 or more students each Monday.
The participating girls have come out of their shells and gained a whole range of new skills.
The news of the NRL award came as a surprise to the teacher who has only recently learnt how to play rugby league.
Previously, an avid AFL player in Melbourne, Ms Lansdown learnt the game from scratch to keep up with the school student’s already established love of rugby league.
“The talent here was just outstanding, and you could see how much the kids loved playing rugby league... I had to roll with it.
“It was difficult to get into rugby league at first, it is a hard skill to learn, but watching the kid’s skills improve has been incredible.
“And it doesn’t matter what age you are, any kid can get involved,” she said.
NRL head of government and community relations Jaymes Boland-Rudder said the community awards for NRL is an opportunity to celebrate the success at the grassroots level.
“When thinking about NRL success most people’s minds jump to elite athletes, but this is our opportunity to celebrate everyday heroes,” Mr Boland-Rudder said.
“Early engagement with young Australians is often fostered from our teachers.
“In Katherine in particular it is great to see the work these teachers have done and celebrate their contributions,” he said.
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