Updated: Jan 31
Excited Seymour students from left to right: Sam, Aaron, Nick, Dean, Molly, Korna and Steph with trainer Nikki, (fourth from right).
Trainer Nikki arrived in Seymour for the Changing Gears program on November 21st, 2022. Seymour had recently been hit by floods and she could see shop fronts still being cleared and building repairs. But as she arrived at Seymour College to conduct her last program for the year, she arrived to a classroom of resilient young people who had clearly weathered the storms well.
Students ready to learn
Students Samantha, Korna, Molly, Dean and Aaron were all seated, ready and waiting to learn what it took to obtain their learner permits. Sam’s identical twin sister Stephanie was there also. She had already obtained her permit online, but she really wanted to ensure she understood the road rules and drove safely on Victorian roads. Trainer Nikki praised her for her diligence.
Shortly after ten, a seventh class-member rocked up. Nick had told his teachers he’d really like get his learner permit. Nikki and his classmates received him with enthusiasm.
Seymour VicRoads has a tiny office and so was unable to accommodate in-person testing. Therefore, the decision was made to take the students through the online program. They took this information in their stride and began to sign up for the online program in class.
One of the difficulties encountered was that a lot of the students had no non-school email address. As VicRoads contacts learner drivers through this address, it was important that each student had a personal email.
Teacher’s aid, Deirdre initially offered a single email address to use but chaos ensued. Only one online test per email was allowed in the VicRoads system. Trainer Nikki solved this problem by creating yahoo addresses for everyone that did not have one.
Mixing online education with in class exercises
Once this problem was solved and students were all signed in, the class began working through the program. Students worked at different speeds. However, Nikki helped keep everyone at a similar stage and supported Stephanie by regularly stopping everyone for videos, games and instruction that would help them understand each of the three sections of the online program.
The students worked diligently, really putting their concentration to the test. Korna frequently asked for bathroom breaks, walks outside, trips to the sickbay.
Different states of readiness
Kylie the class aid, was worried about her inattention.
“It’s ok,” trainer Nikki reassured her, “some students are simply not ready to obtain their learner permit test, and Korna is showing us she’s not ready. However, with our support Korna can make a start to the course, and when she’s ready, she can complete it.”
The other students worked steadily through the three VicRoads units. Molly went from saying “I don’t know,” to “it’s in my head!” to the questions posed.
By Wednesday afternoon Sam had passed the final learner permit test. There were high fives all around the class. Molly and Dean were ready to sit the test, Nick was not far behind.
“Are you sure you still want Nick in the class?” one of his teachers asked, “he’s in a very heightened state and behaving poorly.”
“Yes, of course we do,” replied trainer Nikki, “I understand it’s very stressful, but Nick has been very patient and hard-working. He deserves to sit the test.”
Thursday morning rolled around. Dean and Molly quickly passed their final tests. Nikki then sat with Nick as he completed his last learning exercise and supported him as he sat the test. Before he knew it, Nick was through.
“You did it!” Nikki cried, “You’ve passed your learner permit test!”
Nick was surprised but as Nikki explained, “You’ve put the hard work in, you earned this!”
Aaron had been working quietly but steadily all week, but still had several sections of the final unit to complete. Nikki and the students supported him, engaging in discussion about the various aspects of the road rules and safe driving and before long Aaron too had passed his test.
Teacher’s aid, Kylie worked with Aaron, Molly and was still encouraging Korna to do as much of the course as she was comfortable with right until the end of the last day.
Transport immaterial, success experienced
Thursday morning rolled around. Dean and Molly quickly passed their final tests. Nikki then sat with Nick as he completed his last learning exercise and supported him as he sa
Unfortunately, the driver of the bus that was going to take the students to VicRoads to process their permits was sick and they were unable to go.
“That’s ok,” said trainer Nikki, “let’s have a special ceremony of our own.”
Nikki presented everyone with learner plates and shook their hands. Photos were taken with both Nikki and Kylie, and everyone left satisfied.
Sam and Steph were able to go to VicRoads that same day and have their learner permits processed. The others will be supported by Coordinator Kristie Luckman when the bus and its driver are available.
Changing Gears would like to thank Kristie, Dierdre and particularly Kylie for their help with the program. Kylie worked tirelessly with the students through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and was a huge part of their success.
Although the online program was a more difficult way for the students to achieve their learner permits, with hard work and support they succeeded, and in Korna’s case are on their way to success.
“I’ve never seen Molly more proud of herself,” Kristie noted.
“That’s the magic of Changing Gears,” responded trainer Nikki, “The program not only teaches students safe driving and the road code, but also shows them how to tackle and overcome obstacles and achieve success.”
Excited Seymour students from left to right: Sam, Aaron, Nick, Dean, Molly, Steph and Korna with Seymour College teacher's aid Kylie, (third from right).
Possibilities open up
Driving opens up so many possibilities for disadvantaged young people. Classes are supportive, students and trainers inspire each other, showing the way for young people to overcome their obstacles to driving and experience success.
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