Brungle Public most ‘Inspiring School’

Brungle Public School kids with Aboriginal Discovery Ranger Tahlea Bulger, Aunty Sonia Piper, Aunty Phyllis Freeman, Principal Jennifer Lawlor, Administration Manager Jill McDonald, Aboriginal Discovery Ranger Shane Herrington, and staff member Brodie McDonald.

A judging panel has selected the national winner of Woolworths’s ‘Inspiring Schools’ award, and it’s Brungle Public School.

The small school of only 14 students has been judged the most deserving recipient out of over 1000 schools across Australia, and Principal Jennifer Lawlor couldn’t be more proud.

“I’m absolutely blown away,” she said.

“It’s amazing, just amazing. It hasn’t really sunk in yet!

“It’s showing the value of what we do and getting it out into the wider community.”

They won the award on the basis of a 150-word submission from Administration Manager Jill McDonald, who sent the entry off herself in secret.

The first time Principal Lawlor found out the school had even entered the competition was when she got the phone call telling her they had won the state award.

“Unbeknown to me, Jill wrote a submission,” she said.

“They phoned to say that we had won the NSW Inspiring Schools Award. And then all of the state winners were put into deciding who was the national winner, and of all of the schools in all of the states they determined that Brungle School was the most inspiring.

“They are the most inspiring school in Australia. And it’s all thanks to a submission from Jill.”

The submission focused on Brungle Public’s position as an Aboriginal Environmental Education Centre. About 12 schools a year travel to Brungle to learn about Wiradjuri culture, from community leaders like Shane Herrington, Tahlea Bulger, Sonia Piper, Phyllis Freeman, Sue Bulger, and Winne Bulger.

Some of the main instructors are the kids themselves, who build their confidence and leadership skills through teaching other students about their culture.

The school will now get $10,000, 1000 ‘Earn and Learn’ vouchers which can be spent on educational materials, and a $2000 Woolworths gift card.

The money will go towards a covered space so that the cultural lessons can take place together in all weather conditions.

“When it’s too hot or the weather’s bad it’s hard to accommodate all of the visiting kids,” said Jill McDonald.

As well as the practical purpose for the prize money, her submission also talked about why everyone involved with the school – including the teachers, families, and elders who volunteer their time passing on culture – love the place so much.

“Brungle is such a special school and it’s such a special community,” she said.

“It’s amazing that, considering their past and the past of the school, that [the elders] want to tell their story.”