Honour for principal

Dave Stevens feels humbled and honoured to be named a WA Churchill Fellow.
Dave Stevens feels humbled and honoured to be named a WA Churchill Fellow.

The Alta-1 principal was recently named as one of 13 successful WA Churchill Fellows.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust celebrates and rewards Australians who strive for excellence.

�I feel very humbled and honoured to have been included as one of this year�s Churchill Fellowship winners,� Mr Stevens said.

His study to find root causes of disengagement of �at-risk� students with reference to family dysfunction will take him to five different locations in the US, Canada and the UK.

�While academic growth in a young person is important, socio-emotional growth is vital to their survival in post-school society,� he said.

�School plays a secondary role to the family in a student�s social development. Most �at-risk� young people experience breakdown in family relationships.

�This study will look at the methods, programs and approaches that �alternative� schools employ to engage young people in various aspects of the social curriculum and learning and how to assist in the restoration of quality family relationships.�

If world trends were to be believed, Australia had the potential to follow the social shape of the US and the UK in the next 10 to 15 years.

�The reason for visiting these countries is to learn from them and hopefully avoid some of their mistakes,� Mr Stevens said.

�If through this piece of research we can enhance the good work that �CARE schools� and other organisations working with at-risk young people already do, it will be money well spent.

�If, however, we can reduce the number of students requiring these services, it will not only have assisted the individual but will also greatly benefit the wider educational community.�

Mr Stevens has been teaching for 22 years and in a range of different schools.

�The most professional pleasure has always been seeing a student that thought they had no hope and no future start to believe in themselves and reach for some truly worthwhile life goals,� he said.

�Even in my career there has been a noticeable change in young people�s mental health, sense of community and feelings of belonging.

�Schools have the potential to be the second most important groups of people in a student�s life but most disengagement appears to be social not educational and therefore the correct way to tackle any issue is to try and prevent its recurrence rather than dealing with the consequence of it appearing.�