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An Interview with… Ann Williams

Continuing our last interview’s trend of interviewing longtime friends of KLU (a great opportunity for us to catch up with Raise the Bar Psychology’s incredible Dr. Kate Jacobs), we got in touch with an invaluable ally, and wonderful person, in the form of Ann Williams.

Ann is… Indescribable. The work she’s done over the years has been truly remarkable, and the support and services that she’s given to us at Kids Like Us have been generous beyond words. She’s got a lot going on with us at the moment, and we’ll let her tell you about that herself!

We can’t express just how much we value Ann as a friend, and we’re very grateful to her for taking the time to talk to us for our latest KLU Q&A…

 

Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Ann: I am an ex-chalkie, having taught Maths for over 30 years. I taught in three different countries in different sectors – all girls, all boys, mixed, boarding and day schools. When I retired, I ‘discovered’ dyscalculia which is a developmental disorder like dyslexia. It’s often called ‘maths dyslexia’, as there are similarities between the two.

Q: What inspired you to do the work you do with the Dyslexia and LD Parent Support Group Bayside?

Ann: I’ve seen the concerns and worries that can occur in families who have kids with developmental disorders like dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc., and the effect it can have on kids. Many parents, when their child is initially identified as having a developmental disorder, have no idea where to go to get the help and support they need. There’s an absolute need for a group like ours, and I worked and continue to work to make sure that we’re meeting it.

Q: How did you get to know Kids Like Us?

Ann: I first met Anne Jackson at a conference about 5-10 years ago, and was struck by her passion to help 2e kids. Then, about 5 years ago, Catherine Kirby very kindly offered us the use of the Sandringham premises for our meetings – and for FREE (an offer I couldn’t refuse!)!

Q: Could you tell us a little about the Kids Like Us Bursary Fund, and your role in it?

Ann: Kids Like Us is first and foremost an organisation that exists to support the young people they work with. The Bursary Fund plays a big part in that, as around 40% of KLU students come from lower income backgrounds, or families who for one reason or another find themselves in need of financial support to help their children access the support they need.

To ensure impartiality, KLU established an independent board, staffed entirely by volunteers, to review each application to the Bursary Fund and to allocate support where we can. When Catherine approached me and asked if I’d consider becoming Chair of the Bursary Board, I saw this as an opportunity to make a real difference to the 2e kids that KLU does such wonderful work with.

I am very grateful to the other volunteer members of the Board for their unfailing support and assistance, and also to the other KLU volunteers and friends who contribute their time and effort to raise funds from the community. Without these financial contributions to the Bursary Fund, we would not be able to help families in need.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Bursary Fund, or would like to make a donation, you can do so here.

Q: You’re leading two dyscalculia and low numeracy themed events this October, could you let us know a little about them?

Ann: When I ‘discovered’ dyscalculia it became my passion. So I undertook a Masters in Education which enabled me to delve a bit deeper into the theory of dyscalculia. I also had an article published in the Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties.

Over 50% of dyslexics are also likely to have dyscalculia. The problems that they have with Maths are attributed to their dyslexia, so their Maths issues are not addressed. As an ex-Maths teacher, I think this is appalling. Maths is so important. Also, there is little awareness amongst teachers or in the community about dyscalculia, so I am trying to raise awareness about this potentially debilitating disorder.

The first of the two events, Dyscalculia Counts Too, is a full-day session led by myself and KLU’s Lucie Smith. It takes place on Friday, 13th October, and is designed for teachers (K-10) and interested parents. You can find out more about it here.

The second is The Cost of Not Counting, an information evening taking place on Wednesday, 18th October, and led by myself and a brilliant collaborator of mine, Nathalie Parry. This event is designed for parents and others who work with children who have dyscalculia or low numeracy, and can be found here.

Q: What do you do in your downtime?

Ann: What downtime?! I’m retired now and am kept very busy. I am an admin of a very active Facebook group, also I find time to play Bridge twice a week and to exercise regularly.

Q: Can you describe yourself in one word?

Ann: Curious – I like to find out why and how things (and people) work.

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Ann: Alice (of ‘Alice in Wonderland’). Partly because Charles Dodgson (also known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll!) was a mathematician, but also because so many female protagonists, for example Elizabeth Bennet (protagonist of ‘Pride and Prejudice’) were constrained by their gender, and I would hate that.

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Ann: Wuthering Heights. So romantic! I grew up in Accrington, which is a disadvantaged part of Lancashire in the North of England, not far from Howarth where the Brontës grew up. So as a teenager, when I walked up on the moors I imagined Heathcliff there, waiting for me!

Q: Finally, what’s been the best thing so far for you about 2017?

Ann: Hearing good news about my husband’s health.

 

If you’d like to know more about Ann, you can meet her at her free monthly Coffee, Cake & Chat mornings held in our rooms at Kids Like Us – the August morning takes place next Friday, 4th August, and you can book in for this morning here. Bookings are completely free, and just to give an idea of numbers!

 

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An Interview with… Dr. Kate Jacobs

At Kids Like Us we deeply value our community – the staff that work for us, our volunteers, our KLU family, and also the friends we’ve made across the years. No matter where these friends come from – government, Lions and Rotary Clubs or other organisations, we’re truly grateful for the friendship they offer, and for the incredible work they do.

One of our most treasured friends is Dr. Kate Jacobs of Raise the Bar Psychology. Kate is a long-time friend of ours, and we’re always happy to see her!

Kate is an incredibly busy person with lots to do, so we’re very grateful to her for taking the time to talk to us for our latest KLU Q&A…

 

Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Kate: I’m an Educational and Developmental Psychologist with a practice called Raise the Bar Psychology. The clinic is in Moorabbin, though we also provide services in Collingwood. The focus at Raise the Bar Psychology is on learning assessments and interventions for students experiencing learning difficulties. I also lecture in educational psychology at Monash University and I have a nearly 2 year-old named Abbey.

Q: What inspired you to go into Psychology?

Kate: I see psychology as being fundamentally about helping people to understand themselves. I think this is incredibly important as self-understanding is the first step towards self-acceptance. Human beings are wonderfully complex and unique, and we need to celebrate and embrace people’s uniqueness rather than try and squeeze them into predetermined categories or boxes.

Q: How did you get to know Kids Like Us?

Kate: A mutual colleague suggested we get in touch with each other, so about 2 years ago I went down and had a chat with Catherine and Anne. It was very clear right from the start that we shared a passion for supporting students with their learning and that our services very much aligned and complimented each other in a number of ways. I feel like I have been working with KLU for far longer than 2 years. I see KLU as a very dear old friend.

Q: What do you do in your down-time?

Kate: I like spending time with family and friends, either playing with the kids or having a nice meal.

Q: Can you describe yourself in one word?

Kate: Inquisitive.

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Kate: Hermione from Harry Potter. I can be a little bit of a know-it-all!

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Kate: In Primary School for the longest time I only ever wanted to read Enid Blyton books. Harry Potter was first released just as I was finishing school, and I have read the whole series countless times.

Q: Finally, what’s been the best thing so far for you about 2017?

Kate: Raise the Bar Psychology has continued to grow since we opened the new clinic location in Moorabbin just over a year ago and the team has expanded over this time to five psychologists. I am very privileged to be able to work so closely with people who are as passionate as I am about supporting students and families with learning.

 

If you’d like to know more about Kate and Raise the Bar Psychology, you can visit their website at http://www.raisethebarpsychology.com.au. Thanks again for everything, Kate!

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An Interview with… Alex Ashcroft

We’re working on a number of interviews with a range of interesting people at the moment, but while we wait to hear back from them, we thought you might like a look into the man behind the questions, me, Alex (not Alexa!) Ashcroft.

For insight into the guy you’ll most often hear from at the other end of an email, read on for our latest KLU Q&A…

 

Q: How did you first hear about Kids Like Us?

Alex: At a meet-up of school mums, my mum met Catherine, and the two got talking about their mutual backgrounds with young people just like Kids Like Us students. Later, when Kids Like Us needed some admin support and I needed an internship placement for a course, we teamed up to meet the needs of both!

Q: What made you decide to join Kids Like Us?

Alex: When the company running my course unexpectedly collapsed, Catherine generously asked to keep me on as an Administration Officer! It didn’t take a moment’s thought before I accepted – Kids Like Us does incredible work, and I’m happy to be a part of it!

Q: Tell us a little about what you do at Kids Like Us

Alex: I’m a kind of jack-of-all-trades/guy Friday! If something needs doing, I’m the go-to guy to work out how to make it happen. From social media to managing the website, handling sales and calls to organising events, I wear many hats!

Q: What’s the best thing about what you do?

Alex: Hearing about the incredible successes the kids have is without question the best thing about working at Kids Like Us. Recently, I organised the Inspire collection, a selection of short stories, poems and more all submitted by Kids Like Us students, and seeing the remarkable work they put together during term time, in the midst of all the other things going on in their lives, was breathtaking! We’re getting close to releasing Inspire, now, so watch this space!

Q: What do you do when you’re not at Kids Like Us?

Alex: I’m a typical arts guy! I’m heavily involved in my local theatre, helping out in set-builds, front-of-house and pretty much however else I can be useful! I’m also a huge fan of literature (by the time I’m old I’m going to have a pretty impressive library!), films (especially the Marvel and Star Trek films at the moment), sci-fi in general and video games!

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Alex: I’ve always liked to think I’d be someone like Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings – steadfast, honourable and eloquent! …that said, I’m probably most like a background Ravenclaw from Harry Potter – or maybe Hermione! Why? I’m book-smart, deeply committed to my friends and always coming up with odd but effective solutions to problems!

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Alex: Tough call… I was a big fan of the Harry Potter books back in Primary School, and I’ve been a Lord of the Rings fan for as long as I can remember… If I had to pick one, I think I’d choose Skulduggery Pleasant at the moment – it was a book broadly aimed at kids that didn’t feel like it was talking down to me, with an interesting story, characters whose morality was never quite what it seemed, and dialogue that, looking back on it now, really reminds me of the style of things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers!

As for my favourite book now… For older readers, I honestly can’t recommend American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Expanse series starting with Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey more – both are books I’ve read over and over, and both have brilliant TV series ongoing at the moment too!

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An Interview with… Naomi Castelan

As you might remember, some time ago Kids Like Us put out a call for tutors, youth workers and psychologists. One person to answer the call was Naomi Castelan, and we’re incredibly glad that she did!

Naomi is a brilliant and truly valued addition to our team, and it’s been great getting to know her!

As with many of our new staff, we sat down with Naomi to have a quick chat about all things her, KLU life and fiction in our latest KLU Q&A… Thanks for chatting with us, Naomi!

 

Q: How did you first hear about Kids Like Us?

Naomi: I first heard about KLU when I stumbled across an advertisement for a psychologist on an ethical jobs website.

Q: What made you decide to join Kids Like Us?

Naomi: The approach of caring for kids as well as their families in a genuinely caring and holistic way really resonated with me, and I am so excited to be able to be a part of the community that Anne and Catherine have brought together.

Q: Tell us a little about what you do at Kids Like Us

Naomi: I meet kids to work out what they need educationally as well as emotionally, and then providing counselling if it would be beneficial.

Q: What’s the best thing about what you do?

Naomi: Getting to know the great kids and their loving families!

Q: What do you do when you’re not at Kids Like Us?

Naomi: I do a lot of playing cricket with my 8 year old so and going on train rides with my 12 year old son, especially old-timey steam trains.

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Naomi: Pippi Longstocking – because I love adventures, and my hair has a mind of its own!

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Naomi: Playing Beatie Bow by the enchanting Australian author Ruth Park. I wished I could go back in time just like the main character, Abigail.

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An Interview with… Michelle Grierson

Turning back to Kids Like Us’ incredible contingent of volunteers, we have another invaluable member of our team – Michelle!

Like a number of our volunteers, Michelle came to us first as a parent, and later chose to help us in what we do by joining our volunteer team.

We’re incredibly grateful for all she does, and want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you! We’re also grateful to her for taking time to have a quick chat with us for our latest Q&A… Thanks, Michelle!

 

Q: How did you first hear about Kids Like Us?

Michelle: I first found KLU on the Internet as I was looking for some support for our family.

Q: What made you decide to become a volunteer?

Michelle: I love working with young people as I am also involved with another organisation. KLU has done great work for our family – I wanted to give back, so it just seemed like a natural progression!

Q: Tell us a little about what you do at Kids Like Us

Michelle: I have a supporting role with Kids Like Bricks, working with Miles and helping him. I work very much behind the scenes.

Q: What’s the best thing about what you do with young people?

Michelle: Young people have amazing ideas and skills. I love that they always challenge the way you see the world. I just wish I had their energy!

Q: What do you do when you’re not at Kids Like Us?

Michelle: I work as a Community Fundraiser for another organisation as well as volunteering for them. I would love to spend more time in the great outdoors with family and friends. I particularly love Victoria’s High Country any time of the year. As a family we love being in the snow!

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Michelle: I’d like to be Lizzie Bennett from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as she spoke her mind and didn’t compromise, despite living in a time when women weren’t treated fairly.

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Michelle: Unsurprisingly, I was not much of a reader at school. I did enjoy Enid Blyton’s The Adventures of the Wishing Chair.

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An Interview with… Caitilin Jones

Moving back to focus on our incredible KLU team, we thought we’d take the opportunity to get to know and to introduce you to one of our new team members, Caitilin!

Caitilin’s been running tutoring sessions for us, and to be honest, we in the office are truly jealous of her students! The ideas and discussions that have been coming out of her philosophy group have been incredibly insightful and interesting, and we look forward to hearing about many more like them!

We’d like to officially welcome her to the team, and we’re incredibly grateful to her for taking the time for a short Q&A… Thanks, Caitilin!

 

Q: How did you first hear about Kids Like Us?

Caitilin: Through Alan Wilkes, a maths tutor at KLU and a lovely human being.

Q: What made you decide to join Kids Like Us?

Caitilin: Because I want to do meaningful work and share my love of literacy!

Q: Tell us a little about what you’re going to be doing at Kids Like Us

Caitilin: Facilitating my students’ ability to communicate their knowledge, skills and understanding to others, working with young people to build self-esteem and life skills, and sharing my understanding of diverse abilities and learning styles.

Q: What’s the best thing about what you do?

Caitilin: Discovering people’s capabilities, and making education accessible.

Q: What do you do when you’re not at Kids Like Us?

Caitilin: I do a lot! I cook delicious food for family and friends, tend to my veggie patch, walk by the sea with my loyal dog Barney, play with my kids, go on picnics, and go snorkelling. I also argue politics over a bottle of red with my husband, plan crazy weekends away with my four eccentric girlfriends and look after my Mum.

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Caitilin: Moon Face from The Magic Faraway Tree, because he is always up for adventure! He is also kind, likes meeting new people, and is always learning. Oh, and I do have quite a big round face!

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Caitilin: Just one? Oh, that’s way too hard! The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Lord of the Flies, 1984, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, The Time Machine, and The Day of the Triffids.

Oh dear, I’ve let the cat out of the bag that I love a bit of Sci-Fi…!

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An Interview with… Tom Jeffery

Following on from our interview with the incredible Joanna Jeffrey, we thought we’d take the opportunity to have a quick chat with her son, Tom.

We’ve been talking to Tom a lot recently about all things trugs, social media and more, and got to wondering just what kind of answers he’d give in one of our KLU interviews.

One thing led to another, and we find ourselves again with the privilege of interviewing a member of the Read Successfully Ltd. team in our latest Q&A… Thanks, Tom!

 

Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Tom: Full time Rower! I used to be a PE teacher but now I’m rowing full-time with the hopes of the Tokyo Olympics. It’s a lot more fun than working – hanging out with friends and training all day!

Q: How did you get to know Kids Like Us?

Tom: My mum told me about Kids Like since you guys sell our fun reading games!

Q: What inspires you?

Tom: Doing well inspires me. Whether sport or work, you’ll be inspired by the thought that you can succeed.

Q: How did you become involved in trugs, and what is your role in the organisation Read Successfully?

Tom: I became involved in trugs not long ago, part time. I work afternoons and spend my time working on social media – trying to make it fun and interesting. I also go into schools to do demonstrations of how trugs works.

Q: We heard on the grapevine that there are some new trugs boxes being released – could you tell us a little about those?

Tom: Yes, absolutely! What we’ve done is split each box into five individual trugs stages, making it cheaper for the consumer. For example, Box 1 has 5 Stages, 1-5. What we have done is make it possible to buy, say, Stage 3 only.

Q: If you could host a dinner party with any five people from history, who would you choose – and why?

Tom: Literally don’t know! I’ve been thinking for a while but have no idea. Probably Jesus, actually. 1-1 might be better too, since I’d have a few questions to ask him!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Tom: I love hiking in the mountains and surfing, so somewhere I can do both! Maybe South America – drive down the coast surfing, and then go and hike in the Andes!

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Tom: An endurance athlete/explorer?! (Alex at Kids Like Us suggests Allan Quatermain or Indiana Jones!)

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Tom: Goosebumps

Q: Finally, what are you looking forward to/hoping for in 2017?

Tom: To row for Great Britain at the World Champs in Florida!

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An Interview with… Joanna Jeffery, MA(Ed), Cert Ed, Dip (Dys), AMBDA

This KLU interview is a little different than the previous ones you’ll have seen on our site, with us talking to a person from outside of KLU – and what a person!

We are truly grateful, flattered and overwhelmed that we’ve had an opportunity to talk to none other than Joanna Jeffery, the Director of Read Successfully Ltd. and the brilliant mind behind the incredible trugs card games!

Both trugs and Joanna are truly remarkable, and we honestly can’t thank Joanna enough for taking the time to talk to us about herself and all things trugs in our latest Q&A.

 

Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Joanna: Joanna is a qualified teacher with 35 years’ experience. During her career she had various posts within Primary and Secondary Schools, either whole-class teaching or as a Head of Dept. and specialist one-to-one teacher. She has been a course co-ordinator for four-day dyslexia courses, has delivered training within schools, colleges of Further Education and Universities. She has an MA in Education, two Diplomas, one in Primary/Secondary development and one in dyslexia. Up until August 2011 she was the Principal of Dyslexia Access, a tuition and assessment centre in Devon and an Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association and a full member of Dyslexia Action and PATOSS.

Joanna became a phonics specialist and an advocator of systematic synthetic phonics through her desire to discover the best way to teach children to read. She quickly realised that children and students want to enjoy the process of learning to read. So she combined the professional side of learning to decode print with the fun side of playing card games and as a result created trugs – teach reading using games.

Joanna is now the Director of Read Successfully Ltd, having created trugs and now RS Literacy (Raising Standards across the curriculum) for Secondary schools with every teacher a teacher of literacy. trugs was an approved resource by the DfE for the Key Stage 1 and 2 systematic synthetic phonics match-funding scheme. Joanna was awarded an MBE in the 2012.

Q: How did you get to know Kids Like Us? I hear there’s a long story there!

Joanna: Ah well, there was a boy I used to teach called ……. Kirby. I got to know a friend of his mother quite well and we met up a few years ago. She put me in touch with Catherine Kirby (CEO of Kids Like Us!) because my husband and I were going to Australia. So we decided to add Melbourne to our ‘must visit’ list. My husband went to the cricket whilst I joined Catherine and the others and did a trugs workshop …that was the beginning!

Q: What inspired you to create trugs?

Joanna: In 1975 I was teaching in a school in Bristol and there was a boy in my class who couldn’t read called Jason Morris. He was aged 7 ¾. I tried to teach him but I failed. I realised that if I was a teacher then what I should be able to do is teach – so I decided there and then to help all children everywhere to learn to read. But I had to go on courses to find out how our brain learns to read. I also needed to know what inspires children and what makes them tick. So …after many years I created trugs

Q: What kind of successes have you seen from people using trugs?

Joanna: There are many testimonials on the website (which you can read here) – here’s an example:

“The trugs boxes are ideal for struggling readers but also brilliant for Reception as well as gifted and talented – this is why I believe TRUGs is an excellent resource to use across the Primary age range. I would totally endorse TRUGs as a remarkable learning resource – there is nothing else quite like it.”

There is research done by teachers showing how much reading progress is made when using trugs:

Research 1: As my research project shows, TRUGs clearly work to engage pupils (of all reading abilities) in reading. The reason I think TRUGs is so successful is the game element – all children love the competitiveness. They are suitable not only for emerging or struggling readers, but also for those children who are gifted readers, in that they are an excellent tool in developing vocabulary.

I also advocate the use of TRUGs in classrooms when guided reading is taking place; this is a daily activity and invariably a teacher will have 4 to 5 groups to cater for. With only one TA it is only possible to have two adult guided groups, therefore, you need to have valuable reading activities and TRUGs fit s this requirement. I have often come across teachers using ‘holding’ activities which are of low learning value as it can be sometimes difficult to find activities that the children can do independently.

We have also developed some TRUGs leaders in the school, where gifted/more able readers, can still play the game with developing readers, as they have the knowledge that the other children are reading the word correctly. This works wonders – the more able children love the responsibility of ‘leading’ the group while the less able still have a chance to ‘beat’ or win a game against a more able reader – genius!

Research 2: Results indicated that reading accuracy improved in the experimental group. The mean entry score for the experimental group was 81/300 and the mean exit score was 146/300, showing an average improvement of 65.

The resource is now used systematically throughout the school as a reading intervention and continues to have a positive impact.

Research 3: Reading is a key priority for the school, and a proportion of our Pupil Premium funding has been allocated to raise standards in this area. The school has adopted the Read, Write Inc (Ruth Miskin, 2006) approach to teaching phonics which has had huge impact on standards, however on hearing about the trugs resource, we were keen to trial this multi sensory approach to phonics teaching.

The experimental group was given three twenty minute ‘trug’ sessions per week for 18 weeks, in addition to their daily fifteen minute Read, Write Inc (Ruth Miskin, 2006) sessions. The other group acted as a control group, and only took part in daily fifteen minute Read, Write Inc (Ruth Miskin, 2006) sessions.

The pupils very quickly became engaged by the resource, and looked forward to their next session. Many of the parents bought the resource to use at home, because they recognized the impact that trugs had had on their child’s reading. The games also strengthen the children’s ability to recall facts, and improved their social and communication skills.

Importantly, the pupil tracking resources ensured that the school could carefully measure and track pupil progress in a manageable and time efficient manner.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about dyslexia?

Joanna: That we don’t make a fuss about it to the children but point out how smart they are – ok, if they aren’t great at spelling then that’s just one thing – in all other respects they are great and just like anyone else – except that because they have to work out how to achieve things through their school days they end up being able to think outside the box and achieve far greater things as adults. Very sweeping statements, but in my teaching AND personal experience I find this to be the case over and over again.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Joanna: Oh now let me see… Melbourne!!!!!!!

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Joanna: No idea!

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Joanna: I didn’t read – I hated it – hence my desire to help all children everywhere – I don’t want them experiencing what I did.

Q: Finally, what are you looking forward to/hoping for in 2017?

Joanna: Health and happiness and I have it in abundance at the moment. I adore life and am the luckiest person in the world.

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An Interview with… Ian Blackie

Kids Like Us volunteers come in all forms – from public faces like Bert who runs the Kids Like Checks Chess KLUb through to behind-the-scenes helpers like Jane who helps us out in so many ways that the public rarely sees.

We’re kicking off the new year with another of these behind-the-scenes helpers, Ian. Ian is a brilliant all-round volunteer, and we really appreciate everything he does to help us!

With his quick wit and invaluable contributions, Ian was the perfect person for us to sit down with for our first Q&A of 2017…

 

Q: How did you first hear about Kids Like Us?

Ian: We’ve been with Anne since before the inception of KLU! We heard about her through word of mouth from a nurse friend of my wife, Jane’s, who suggested that she might be able to help our son, and so we’ve been with her ever since.

We have seen a lot of change and great things for all the kids that have been helped, and it’s just a great environment to be part of!

Q: What made you decide to become a volunteer?

Ian: I love working with kids, young and old, and enjoy helping others try to achieve their goals and expectations.

I’ve always been fond of volunteering – I was on the School Council at Primary School as a member and the Maintenance Advisor; and was also involved with 7th Cheltenham Cubs & Scouts as a Parent Helper and on their Council. Now, I am involved with KLU as a support role for any and all, whenever and wherever I’m needed.

Q: Tell us a little about what you do at Kids Like Us

Ian: I am in the background as a helper with any tasks that Anne or Catherine require, or anyone else that may need my assistance with maintenance, support or general tasks. I can also offer a shoulder for anyone that may need support at any time in any capacity.

Q: What’s the best thing about working with Kids Like Us?

Ian: It’s very rewarding seeing the kids achieve their goals and milestones – either small or large, and moving into the next phase of their lives.

Q: What do you do when you’re not at Kids Like Us?

Ian: I am an Account Manager / Technical Support for a major Overseas Electrical Manufacturing Company in Australia. I now look after all of Australia, so it’s a pretty full-on time consuming role!

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Ian: Yoda [from Star Wars] – I like the way he talks and his mysterious ways!

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Ian: That’s too long ago – we didn’t have books then!

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An Interview with… Kim Annesley

In our recent interviews with Bert and Jane we’ve been talking to volunteers who are public faces at Kids Like Us – people who can be found in the main room, interacting face-to-face with our students. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to KLU volunteers, as we have a number of faces you might not see around the place, but whose contributions are no less valuable.

The first of these we’ve sat down with is the incredible Kim Annesley. Kim has been a great friend of Kids Like Us, and helps us immeasurably by acting as our volunteer HR Manager.

Without Kim’s time and talent we couldn’t aspire to the heights of organisation and strong connections with staff and students alike, and so as a token of our gratitude we got in touch for a quick Q&A…

 

Q: How did you first hear about Kids Like Us?

Kim: In 2015 I was looking for a way to use some of my generalist Human Resource management skills to supplement the ad-hoc HR and training project work I’d been doing. I stumbled across ethicaljobs.com.au and saw the ad for HR at Kids Like Us. I’d never heard of the organisation before, and I was interested to find out more about the unique and positive work it was doing with kids.

Q: What made you decide to become a volunteer?

Kim: As mentioned above, I wanted to use some of my skills and experiences that weren’t currently being used in my work and life. I value contribution to the society we live and work in, and active community involvement has always appealed to me.

Over the years I have organised youth events (when I was a teenager), been involved with events and sponsorship at larger charities and for several years was the President of our local community playgroup – the biggest in Victoria! The role at KLU arrived at a time when I had additional time to spare and was making no other significant contribution in the not-for-profit sector.

Q: Tell us a little about what you do at Kids Like Us

Kim: I generally support KLU in the “people” side of running the business. Whilst Anne and Catherine share this responsibility on a day to day basis, I help to ensure the staff terms and conditions of employment, employment contracts etc. are in line with current legislation and that KLU has the necessary policies and procedures in place to provide safe working practices and workplaces.

HR incorporates recruiting and hiring staff, training, managing performance, workplace health and safety, reward and recognition and, when necessary, terminating the employment relationship. In conjunction with other departments, I will be involved in all these elements at KLU, as necessary.

Q: What do you do when you’re not at Kids Like Us?

Kim: Much of my time is spent being mum to my kids, aged 9 and 7 – chauffeuring them to endless activities and playdates and cleaning up after these 2 busy, creative and cheeky kids! I work 2 days a week for a not-for-profit industry association, I help out at our primary school regularly – in the kitchen garden program and on the school council, and I am also involved with the local Lifesaving Club – from November to March you’ll see me doing water safety at Nippers, training and other public events.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world that you haven’t already been, where would you go – and why?

Kim: I had a penpal from Japan when I was in primary school and was fascinated, firstly, with her perfectly formed and exquisitely neat handwriting! The Japanese culture, history and spectacular countryside intrigued me, and I’ve always admired the Japanese quiet formality. Since then, I have longed to visit the Land of the Rising Sun!

Fortunately for me, this dream will come to fruition next year!

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Kim: Alice from Alice in Wonderland – I’m quite often a little confused!

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Kim: There were so many! As a younger reader I enjoyed Enid Blyton, particularly the Famous Five series, and I devoured book after book of The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High – and any story featuring horses!

As I grew older, I read most of Judy Blume’s books, and I enjoyed ghost, paranormal and crime stories.

One of my all-time favourites would have to be The Bridge to Terabithia – and it was just as powerful when I re-read it as an adult a few years ago.