Having an impact on the world: Identify a problem and find a solution

We can often see Carey’s Attributes of a Positive Learner at play in our Old Carey Grammarian community. A great example of this is OCG Jacob Wilkinson (2016), who collaborated with a group of his peers from university to create the Regional Education Support Network (RESN).

Jacob and his friends recognised the incredible support and resources available to them during their time in Senior School. They noticed a lack of support and tutoring available to rural students and set about designing a solution that would support Year 12 students in more remote locations. Carey’s commitment to social justice impacts our students in different ways, and we are pleased to share the story of Jacob’s contribution to the academic success of students from around the State through RESN. He found a problem worth solving and applied Carey’s Positive Learner Attributes to develop a solution.

The full feature on Jacob and his work will appear in the next edition of Torch, due to be released early October. Here is some of what he had to say:

‘Throughout my life, I have definitely needed to develop my resilience. I think that underpins everything, because when you’re attempting something new, you really need to be able to bounce back pretty quickly sometimes.

‘Moving from Melbourne to Australian National University (ANU) was very tough at the time. The combination of moving somewhere new, living in a college, and making new friends because you don't know anyone, it all requires a bit of determination and resilience. 

‘I also needed to channel that resilience when I went to China in November last year. I was there travelling around for nine months, and there’s all sorts of challenges like the language barrier and just feeling like an outsider every day for so long. But coming out of both of these experiences, I am more confident and I’ve really settled into uni, and I really improved my Chinese language skills!

‘In relation to RESN, the primary attribute we needed to have was imagination. It took an entrepreneurial spirit of having a problem and trying to solve it. My mates at ANU are from all over Australia, and lots of them are from regional and rural towns. When I was getting to know them, a big difference was that in their towns, they didn't have access to tutors or revision lectures like we have in Melbourne. So we recognised this problem and imagined a solution, and it really went from there.

‘Communication was another big one for us, because especially at the start we were pitching something that had never been done before. We really needed to be trying as much as possible communicate why we're in it, why we're doing what we're doing, and how seriously we take child safety in the program. 

‘We also needed to spread the word about RESN. This started off with a lot of submissions to regional rural newspapers because we recognised that they're very widely read within those communities. We've reached out to radio shows, then more mainstream media like The Age and the Weekly Times. But word of mouth has been vital, with principals talking to other principals in their regional networks and explaining what's going on. Effective communication has been fundamental to our program.

‘Then finally collaboration has been really important. We started off with just the two of us and an idea, we got a few more people and a few more and we now have a team of over 100 volunteers. We used our networks of students in metropolitan areas who were already tutoring and being paid for it. We convinced them to come on board to volunteer online as tutors an hour a week. Now that we have over 1000 students in 82 schools across Victoria, collaboration is key to keep our tutors motivated to make sure we’re helping all of these students as much as they can.’

It is heartening to see our alumni using their personal skills and attributes to make a difference in the world. Through Jacob’s work, he and his colleagues are helping other students to be the best they can be, offering better pathways for the future and giving them the confidence in their own abilities and knowledge for Year 12.

RESN are always looking for more high performing students to volunteer to help others around the State. Those interested can find out more on the website.

Leanne Guillon
Deputy Principal