Resident primary school teacher at Panthers on the Prowl, Lawrence McDonell, will celebrate 10 years in his job at the end of this term.
Mr McDonell is the leader of two programs at the Prowl, teaching kids from years 3-6 across various blocks within each term.
Beginning his career as a teacher with a keen interest in both student welfare and rugby league, Mr McDonell has found the role at the Prowl perfectly suited to him.
“In my previous role in classrooms I could tell that there was just such a need for a program that was focused on wellbeing,” Mr McDonell said.
“The curriculum is very crowded, and it’s nice to be able to spend most of my time focused on what makes a big difference to students … being able to talk to them about their day-to-day problems.
“Sometimes you have to address certain other aspects of their wellbeing in order for them to get the most out of class.”
Panthers on the Prowl’s primary programs launched in 2002 through a partnership with the NSW Department of Education, creating an opportunity for students who might be at risk of disengaging from their learning to undertake social, emotional and psychological learning alongside regular schooling.
After 10 years, and more than 1000 students across both programs, Mr McDonell has learned a lot.
“What I’ve learned is … nobody’s the same, and on the same note, we’re not all that different,” he said.
“Every single student that’s come through here has had their own individual flair, their own individual needs that have needed to be addressed, so yes, I’m always learning … I’m learning about myself, too.
“I’ve never seen someone come to a learning environment every day so positive in his desire to bring meaningful education to the kids that he works with,” Brogan Mulhall, Secondary Projects Officer and Mr McDonell’s colleague said.
Mr McDonell seems to have his heart set on another 10 years. “I often joke … even if I won the lottery, I would probably still end up doing something like this anyway, because it is very satisfying,” he said.
Erin Christie is the Weekender’s entertainment and community news journalist. She has worked with Are Media, Good Reading Magazine and a host of other publications.