With the expansion of her role, our not-so-new staff member, Emma – a Youth Caseworker in the Youth Team – is excited to be able to take on the Chaplaincy role at Kingswood Park Public School. This means that NCNS now has three chaplains in four schools – two high schools and two primary schools.
Chaplains play a unique and vital role in schools.
They listen to children, young people, parents, and teachers – really listen, and without judgement. The chaplain provides a safe emotional space for the duration of the crisis or until other professional services can be arranged. Narelle, NCNS’ Family Worker, has been working in this capacity for some time, and says, “In my three years as a chaplain I have had the honour and privilege of walking alongside children, parents, and teachers experiencing a wide range of issues, including grief, loss, depression, anxiety, diagnosis of various disorders, domestic violence, suicide, social issues, mental illness, transitions, parental separation, abuse and neglect.”
The chaplain becomes woven into the fabric of the school. The principal of the school, when faced with applying for the next round of chaplaincy funding always says “we would survive without a chaplain, but we would prefer not to”. Having a chaplain at school is like having a third leg on a stool, much more stable and grounded. The connection, care, and communication that the chaplain facilitates for teachers, students, and parents enriches the school environment, and provides a soft landing place for those people bumping up against the constraints of his/her world.
It is not a chaplain’s job to convert people to Christianity. They are required, however, to demonstrate grace, compassion, and humility to all people regardless of race, faith, gender, circumstance, or ability. Chaplaincy is about bringing out the values that all humans need – care, nurture, attention, acceptance, kindness, and feeling heard and understood. This is important work in the life of a school, and it does effect life-altering and sustainable change.
Good luck, Emma, the children at Kingswood Park Public School are lucky to have you on board.