The teaching life at the Mt Buller annexe
WHEN I graduated, in the late 90s, the alternate education landscape was pretty barren.
Sure, Timbertop existed and schools had camp programs where students would leave the classroom for a week or so at the time, but opportunities to pursue passions while continuing study were few and far between.
In the last 15 to 20 years this has begun to change.
Due to the longevity and success of Timbertop and similar models some schools began to look for creative programs for middle years.
Schools moved year nines off campus, set up year-long off site camps and even sent groups overseas for a term - the benefits of these ‘alternate curriculums’ became well documented.
I’ve worked at the Mansfield Secondary College Mt Buller Annexe for three years and can honestly say it has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences I’ve had in my 16 years of teaching.
For the uninitiated let me give you a little history on the MSC Annexe - it was set up five years ago with the goal of allowing local students to pursue their love of Alpine Sports while continuing their study.
Three years ago we wrote our unique @Altitude curriculum - a curriculum document that encompasses all subject areas, is Ausvels compliant but builds all of its tasks around Skiing/Snowboarding and the Alpine environment.
Topics include “Physics of Skiing”, “Design a totally Sustainable Ski Resort” and “Nutrition of an Alpine Athlete”.
A day in the life of an Annexe student is jam packed - many of our MSC students (we now take students from many other schools around the state for the term) catch the 7am bus from town to make it to their 8.30am training session.
Students are enrolled with either Race Club, TBR or TSC and work with their coaches from 8.30-9 until 12.
After 12, they are welcome to come to the classroom to make lunch, play cards with friends or catch up on some study - this is a really social hour and is a vital part in forming the camaraderie within the group that is always so strong.
Class runs from 1-5 every weekday and time is spent on teaching and completing tasks from @Altitude.
We are also visited by many special guests every year.
Guests this year have included Olympians Jacqui Cooper and Anton Grimus, Lou Perrin - environmental officer for Mt Buller/Mt Stirling - and BioLAB - one of Victoria’s dedicated Maths/Science centres.
The 5.30pm bus gets students back to Mansfield by 6.30pm; a big day indeed.
The positive benefits students gain from this program are undeniable - the small group who ski/board and learn together become incredibly tightknit.
Students are totally engaged in the coursework because everything ties back to something they love - snow.
As the class includes students from years 7-10 we see a really organic mentoring system take place where the older students help those younger with their tasks - and of course their skiing/boarding improves.
We had many students this year perform exceptionally at both Vic interschools and the Nationals.
If you are in year 7-10, love skiing or boarding and are looking for a totally unique education experience I couldn’t recommend the Annexe highly enough.
Any enquiries should be directed to Mansfield Secondary College.
LET’S PRACTICE: Although they live ‘out of town’ Charlotte (left) and Sophie Mars enjoy walking and over the school holidays practised ‘walking to school’ following a map of the township streets.