I had the opportunity to attend the Waitaki Multicultural Council’s international potluck supper on a few weeks ago. I had a wonderful time and thank everyone for making me feel so welcome. The suckling pig was amazing as were the rest of the tables laden with traditional and modern dishes and we were treated to a traditional dance by two talented young ladies.
I was asked to share what I do as a Southern Health School (SHS) teacher here in Oamaru, as although we have been here for over 5 years now, very few seem to have heard of us! Southern Health School is just like a regular state school, but we have classrooms from Nelson to Invercargill and on both coasts. We work with students from Year 0-13 who have had to severely reduce their attendance at their regular school or are unable to attend for high physical or mental health needs, anything from broken limbs and Glandular fever to depression and anxiety. The average stay with the SHS is around 15 weeks.
We are a transition school – our aim is to help keep students engaged with learning while they are unwell and help them get back to their regular school. In Oamaru, we don’t have a classroom as yet. I work with students in their homes, in public spaces such as the library or in spaces in their school of enrolment. It is a wonderful job, where I meet amazing students from Waimate to Palmerston. We are not a school for truants, but students who are unable to attend their regular school due to being unwell. All students require a medical certificate form an appropriate medical specialist to stay with us. For more information go to our website! www.southernhealthschool.nz
Jill Bayley, Oamaru, Southern Health School

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