18 May 2018

Chaplaincy more than a job for Chappy Selma

Posted in SU QLD

Selma Dredge’s journey to becoming a school chaplain in Central Queensland was a long and winding one, but it’s one she wouldn’t change for the world.

Now Chappy Selma is enmeshed in the hearts of her students and the Biloela community, working in three small primary schools in the region – Thangool, Prospect Creek, and Banana.

“I’ll be in Woolies and the students run up to me, which is really cool,” she said with a smile.

“My favourite part is being able to be involved in their lives from Prep to Grade 6, and because I help at the local youth group, I still see some of them even after they get to high school and I get to watch them grow up.

“When they grow up and start having babies of their own, you realise you’re getting old!” she laughed.

Moving to Australia from England in 1980, Selma was ready to roll up her sleeves and become the teacher she’d studied to become, but when she couldn’t get work as a teacher she got work at a hospital in Western Australia.

After then working in regional human resources, she decided it was time for a change.  A teaching job came up at a private school in Biloela in Central Queensland, so she grabbed it with both hands and moved across the country.  But after nine years in front of the blackboard, she felt she needed to do more to help the children she taught.

“The children would come in from play time and there’d be all the social issues and fights that came up during lunch time,” she said.  

“So many of the children came from broken families and had limited social skills, and they were just fighting.  I thought, ‘If I just had some times with these children I could help them’.

“An opportunity came up for a new position created in the community for a chaplain and they basically approached me and said, ‘This is what you should be doing!’ That was in 2013.”

As for when it’s time to hang up her SU QLD chaplaincy shirt and retire, Chappy Selma said she would know when the time was right.

The kids and school communities will always be in my heart and I doubt I’ll ever sever ties with chaplaincy, but I will have to ‘step away’ from my schools one day soon,” she said.

“The children and school community are part of you.”

Chappy Selma is only able to support the children, their families, and staff at Thangool, Prospect Creek, and Banana State schools because of generous supporters like you. This Chappy Week you can keep the light of chaplaincy shining in our communities, visit suqld.org.au/donate.

Jennifer Kerr

Media and Communications Administrator

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