Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - Front Page - By OLIVIA DUFFEY

Af­ter five years liv­ing in Mel­bourne and work­ing on her art ca­reer, Alana Parker is back in De­niliquin and shar­ing her skills with the stu­dents at De­niliquin High School.

The 34 year-old (pic­tured) in­tends to re­main at Deni High — where she pre­vi­ously taught visual arts be­tween 2010 and 2015 — un­til the end of this school year be­fore re­turn­ing to her home town of New­cas­tle.

Her role at the school is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this time around, with Miss Parker be­ing em­ployed as part of the well­ness pro­gram.

‘‘I get to come in and work with a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent stu­dents with dif­fer­ent needs to cre­ate some­thing with them that they can truly feel proud of, suc­cess and pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences out­side of the class­room,’’ she said.

‘‘It gives me the op­por­tu­nity, be­cause I work in small groups, to dis­cuss things and stu­dents get to open up to me. It also gives them some­thing a lit­tle ex­tra to look for­ward at school.

‘‘We have been work­ing on some large scale mu­rals to be ex­hib­ited around the school, all with the un­der­ly­ing con­cepts of well­be­ing. One is based around men­tal health and men­tal health aware­ness. The stu­dents come up with im­agery com­pletely de­rived from their imag­i­na­tion, but then with hid­den mes­sages about be­ing a good hu­man be­ing and be­ing kind.

‘‘I am also work­ing with a group of indige­nous stu­dents on a Fri­day af­ter­noon, work­ing on a large scale mu­ral to be hung in the can­teen area.

‘‘It has been re­ally fun. There has been a lot of free­dom with the im­agery, but it is also been nice to con­nect with stu­dents on a per­sonal level as well.’’

Miss Parker has al­ways had a con­nec­tion to art, and said it is equally re­ward­ing to share it as an ed­u­ca­tor.

‘‘Through­out school I wouldn’t say I was the most stu­dious of stu­dents, but art was cer­tainly some­thing I felt I got some­thing out of,’’ she said.

‘‘Teach­ing was not where I wanted to go right from the very start, but I knew my con­nec­tion was with art so that is what I con­tin­ued to study.

‘‘When I left high school I went to art school, and af­ter four years there I thought ‘right, how am I go­ing to di­rect this into a ca­reer or pay­ing job’. That led me to teach­ing.

‘‘From there I was lucky to fall in love with teach­ing.’’

Miss Parker es­pe­cially en­joys ‘‘see­ing what the stu­dents get out of what we cre­ate’’.

‘‘That awe fac­tor is a big one for me. Art of­fers stu­dents a place to achieve suc­cess, and also work to make con­nec­tions in the wider school com­mu­nity.

‘‘It al­lows stu­dents to build re­la­tion­ships and feel im­por­tant, and also ex­poses you to ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing - his­tory and cul­ture be­ing the ma­jor ones. You can learn about the world at a spe­cific time through art, and through the visual im­agery.

‘‘But par­tic­u­larly art is used to­day as a voice; one that any­body can ac­cess and ex­press their po­lit­i­cal or cul­tural views, or any sort of per­sonal or sub­jec­tive is­sues. It re­ally al­lows you to have a look at the world through an­other per­son’s per­spec­tive.

‘‘I cer­tainly learn as much from stu­dents as they would learn from me, and I def­i­nitely take that ap­proach in the class­room set­ting as more of a fa­cil­i­ta­tor of learn­ing and ed­u­ca­tion and al­ways keep­ing my mind open.’’

Miss Parker will move to New­cas­tle at this end of this year — with her part­ner Joe Dohnt and their son Len­nie — for fam­ily rea­sons.

‘‘I moved from New­cas­tle to De­niliquin to start this jour­ney, and I am ready to go back home. Len­nie is 16 months old and it’s time for my fam­ily to re­unite.

‘‘I am thank­ful to have this op­por­tu­nity to work in De­niliquin again, and I think it will be a beau­ti­ful tran­si­tion for me to move back to the coast and hope­fully also work there un­der this well­be­ing um­brella.’’

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