Tootgarook PS breakfast club appears to hum effortlessly, providing a place for students and families to connect, and for students to start the day well-nourished. Class teachers are convinced that this positively impacts student well-being and learning outcomes.
The success of this welcoming club that feeds 100+ students each school morning is thanks to the incredible work of its co-ordinator Kylie Smiles. Kylie is a parent at Tootgarook PS and her three children under 7 happily help with the set up each morning. Kylie brings skills from her hospitality background and as a paid coordinator unleashes resources within the community, from excess food to volunteer time, thus multiplying many times the investment generously made by MFP donors.
And as with all MPF work, benefits flow both ways. Kylie says, “Having this family friendly job and additional income has been life-changing for me and my family. It has enabled me to further my studies to become a swim teacher and open up possibilities for my children. They have access to swimming lessons which I wouldn’t have been able to afford before.”
Kylie serves up more than a delicious breakfast, she lives up to her name with her infectious smile and has become a great source of support for families going through challenging times. “My history overcoming family violence isn’t a secret, I don’t wear it as a badge, but mums know they can come and talk to me. It’s less scary talking to me than talking to official channels sometimes. I can share my experience and encourage them to seek help. Most people don’t seek help and they could save themselves a lot of heartache if they sought help sooner.”
Kylie describes herself as resourceful and solution orientated. “I love this job; I love helping kids and families. The job has given me stability to get out of ‘fight or flight’. For the first time I can zoom out and see a bigger picture, a future beyond just doing the next thing.”
Back in the classroom, Tootgarook PS is well into the implementation of the Science of Learning (SOL) and school data is consistently proving how impactful SOL is.
Listening to people, being flexible, connecting unexpected partnerships and funding high yield activities develops strength in the community and win win outcomes.