Offering a moment to sit and enjoy a book together before school starts in the morning, the new community space has been created to encourage families to come into the school and get involved in school life and their child’s learning.
“We can't just assume parents will come, or that they feel welcome,” explains P&C Vice President, Lauren Johnson, who worked in partnership with principal Jodie Rowell to create the café. “Families need a reason, a place to come and foster a relationship with the school, with staff, with the community”
The space will be open four mornings a week, staffed by an executive teacher who will shepherd the kids to class for 9am. There are books to share, a chance to chat, and the all important coffee machine!
“It’s a fancy coffee machine, with great coffee, but easy to operate so that parents can serve themselves. We hope it provides the chance for a new morning routine,” says Lauren.
And parents certainly seem keen. A large crowd gathers for the official opening, even though it’s well after 3pm.
Principal Jodie Rowell addresses the crowd, thanking the P&C, community partners, parents and Federal Member for Canberra, Alicia Payne, who supported one of the two grants the P&C won to fund the café.
The name of the café, voted on by the students, is revealed with great fanfare: The Garden Café. It’s fitting, with the space spilling out into the school’s new orchard and vegetable beds (more projects funded by grants won by the P&C!). There’s also a white board with a to do list including mulching and weeding – clearly the space will also be a hub for ongoing P&C activities.
“The school is at the heart of our community,” says Lauren to the crowd, “but great schools also have a community at their heart, and that community needs a place and a space.”
“Money alone is not enough. We’re so grateful for our partnership with the school and help from parents to create this.”
Two parents, particularly, worked tirelessly to put the café together, from the design and sourcing materials, to installation and painting. One of those parents is Chris Hollins.
“We’re lucky the school has the opportunity to do this. The community, the kids have a sense of ownership of the place. I want my kids to have a great time here at school and feel positive about it and their learning. So I got involved, and they love it,” says Chris.
Alicia Payne and Kris Willis, Director of School Improvement, provide the official opening before the kids swarm in – there are cakes to be eaten!
“There is so much a P&C can do in partnership with the school,” Lauren tells us. “That’s the most important factor in our ability to deliver on grants projects: a strong, close and effective collaborative relationship with the school principal and leadership team. We can’t do it on our own. Projects like this have to tie into the school’s needs and vision. They need the input of school staff, the help of the business manager, so that partnership is key.”
“Input from local business is also crucial. For example, for our café, the flooring was donated and we have secured ongoing donations from a local supermarket and café to ensure the café is viable in the long term.”
And that means that the milk fridge and coffee machine will continue to be stocked!
This article is part of a series "At Our P&C..." sharing great things that ACT P&Cs are doing.
Published November 2022