Sunday 21 April 2024

Contact 1800 772 679

Contact 1800 772 679

The magazine of the Public Service Association of NSW and the Community and Public Sector Union (NSW Branch)

Grounds For Success

Grounds For Success

Meet the General Assistant transforming a Sydney school.

Glenn Hall admits there isn’t much he hasn’t done on a career path that has led to his current role as General Assistant (GA) at Thomas Acres Public School at Ambarvale in southwest Sydney.

“I grew up on a farm in central NSW where if something breaks, you learned how to fix it,” he said. “I’ve also worked in a heap of different construction jobs and environments. These have turned out to be a real advantage in a GA role.”

Mr Hall, 54, is a Wiradjuri man who “has just clocked up three years” at the school, having worked for two years previously at a nearby high school.

Mr Hall’s dedication to the school is evident the moment someone enters the front gates.

“I redesigned the entrance to the school and planted out areas of the school that were neglected and established new gardens,” he said. “I installed a new sandpit that is big enough to allow a classful of students to use at the one time.”

Mr Hall is instilling pride in the students: pride in the school, pride in their cultures and pride in the country they live in.

He repositioned a board with words to the school song and the national anthem, complete with a Dharawal verse, so children would see and practise them every day. He also repositioned flag poles into a more prominent spot.

When he found out there was no funding from the Education Department for an Anzac memorial garden, he applied to Veterans’ Affairs for the money.

The school walls are decorated with art depicting animals and plants from all the nationalities represented in this multicultural pocket of Sydney.

With about 20 per cent of the student body from Aboriginal backgrounds, Mr Hall has set up a yarning circle in a quiet corner of the school for children to use.

“With every idea I come up with or with any idea that someone else within the school comes up with, I try to plan and construct it to try and get students to have pride in their school and make it a pleasurable environment where they want to come every day,” he said.

“The school is in a low socioeconomic area, so I see a lot of kids go without. But with the help from me and some of our staff members, the kids are able to receive help with some of the things they may need.”

“Glenn is more than a GA,” said PSA Organiser Peta Noke. “He is a vital part of the school.

“Once there was a child who was having difficulties coming into school. Glenn took her to see the chickens he raises on the grounds. She regularly came down to see the animals and collect the eggs. Slowly she came out of her shell, eventually fitting into school life.

“People like Glenn are the backbones to successful learning environments for children throughout the state.

“Coming to Thomas Acres, you are immediately struck by how welcoming the school is.”

Mr Hall said he feels a great sense of satisfaction when he sees an idea come to fruition. He also enjoys the ability to plan his own workload and the reasonable working hours.

“My previous job of 10 years involved working 12-hour rotating shifts, which meant I missed out on my girls growing up,” he said. “But now I am home every afternoon at a reasonable time, which allows me to spend time with them and my grandkids. This is an awesome thing for me.

“At this stage of my life, I can see myself continuing to work in a GA role until I retire.”

Mr Hall is a proud PSA member, “knowing I will have the support of the union if I need it”.

He encourages all GAs to join the PSA. “The more members the union has means the greater strength in numbers,” he said. “This will better the chances we have to get positive change, such as pay rises and better working conditions.”

Mr Hall is a member of the General Assistants Advisory Group (GAAG), which liaises with the union on issues of importance to GAs.

“I am really enjoying being a part of the GAAG and cannot wait to see what the future holds for the group,” he said.

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