As we celebrate 30 years of school chaplaincy in 2020, we wanted to highlight some of our chappies who have worked for many years to support the next generation.
Andrea Lee has is the school chaplain at Palarra State School and Yeronga State High School. She’s been a chappy for 7 years.
“I always knew I wanted to work with young people, but I had no idea at what capacity,” Andrea recalls.
“I started as a teacher, but found I wasn’t as interested in teaching as I was in why students were behaving in a certain way. I was more interested in what’s going on in their life and how I might be able to help them.
“There are so many kids who need support. I see a lot of primary kids who go through parental separation – and are asking really tough questions like ‘why am I going back and forth from house to house?’ or ‘is this my fault?’.
“I just listen and try to help them understand what’s going on a bit better. I don’t always know everything that’s going on at home, but I myself came from a broken family, so I guess in that sense I can relate to them and their experience.”
Being able to make a difference both emotionally and practically – that’s one of the things Andrea loves most about being a chappy.
“One point I really felt like I was making a difference was with a young boy I supported in primary school,” Andrea recalls.
“I noticed that when he came to school each day his shirts weren’t being cleaned, so I asked him ‘do you want to learn how to wash your shirt?’ – he said he’d like to do that. He told me he didn’t know how to use a washing machine and his mum and dad wouldn’t show him how.
“From that point, one day a week first thing in the morning I’d go collect this student and show him how to handwash his shirt so he could actually do that and wash his other clothes at home.
“That was a beautiful thing because I was able to engage with him, show him someone cared for him and valued him, and also teach him a valuable life skill.”
Andrea says chaplaincy is one of the greatest jobs if you love to support young people.
“If you really have a passion to support young people through hardships, chaplaincy is one of the greatest ways to do it,” Andrea says.
“If you have the drive and love to help kids and teenagers – do chaplaincy.”
If you’re interested and feel called to chaplaincy – there are various roles open right across Queensland. To find out more about pursuing a career in chaplaincy, visit www.suqld.org.au/morehands