Seeing joy on children’s faces is what school chaplain Donna Shearing loves most about her role at Back Plains and Clifton state schools on the Darling Downs.
“My happiest moments are always when I see change for the better in a student’s life,” the eight-year chappy veteran said.
“Like, a student who was feeling low or told me they had no friends, then seeing them playing happily with friends, or tell me they’re doing much better now and to know I’ve been a part of that change is very rewarding.”
Chappy Donna, who became a chaplain after volunteering with a chaplain, has developed friendships within her school community by getting involved with her students and doing what they love – including crawling through mud pits and shooting down waterslides on school camps!
“Pastoral care is a very important part of my work, which involves helping students by being a listening ear and a caring adult presence,” she said.
“Advocating on behalf of the student and giving appropriate information is also a big part, and playing games with the children at lunch times is really fun and popular and helped me to get to know the students.”
But Chappy Donna doesn’t just look after the children and young people at school.
“I run the Ripple Kindness Project at Back Plains State School, which has brought many positive changes to our school culture, and the staff and parents love the positive impact it has.
“The biggest difference I think school chaplaincy makes to my schools is that students, staff and families have someone available at school they can talk to when they experience life’s problems, which takes some of the burden off teachers.
“School staff and parents refer students to me with all sorts of issues such as grief and loss, friendship and family problems, and as part of the schools support team I can also recommend other staff or services who may be able to help too.”
Chappy Donna is only able to support the children, their families, and staff at Back Plains and Clifton 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.