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Helping young people achieve their potential

17 September 2022

Helping young people achieve their potential

Nidia Danza describes her teaching role at Oasis College as “fun, meaningful and an honour”.

Nidia Danza is a secondary school teacher and Vocational Education and Training (VET) coordinator with the Salvos’ Oasis Youth Network in Surry Hills, Sydney. Oasis College is an independent secondary school for Years 11 and 12, delivering an accredited Higher School Certificate (HSC) program in a safe and supportive environment to support young people in overcoming adversity. She recently spoke to Salvos Magazine about her work. 

Salvos Magazine: Can you give us an overview of your job? 

Nidia Danza: I teach Year 11 and Year 12 students in HSC subjects of Community and Family Studies and English Studies, the VET Certificate II in Hospitality (Food and Beverage) and Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways. 

SM: What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work? 

ND: Coffee! Once I’ve had a sip of that golden amber, I’m good to go! At Oasis College, we are a close-knit team of four, and each morning we check in and connect as individuals. I cherish those moments. It is important we safeguard our own wellbeing to ensure we are able to support the wellbeing of our students. 

SM: What does a typical day involve for you? 

ND: At Oasis, we have a five-period day of formal one-hour lessons. On average, I deliver three to four periods of face-to-face learning each day. At 9am, we have the school circle, where students, teachers and staff check in and give a rating out of five about how we are feeling that morning. If a rating is low, the hope is that by the end of the day we have lifted the spirits of the student to a four or five rating. At 3pm, we hold another school circle and farewell our students for the day. When all is quiet, I check my emails, and mark student work and assessments. 

SM: What’s the most challenging part of your work? 

ND: Unpacking trauma. Every young person is different, and students come to us with symptoms and experiences that influence behaviour. We strive to understand, support and ultimately not to re-traumatise. In an ideal world, we teachers would not have to do admin. We could simply teach, which is where our passion lies. 

SM: What’s the most rewarding part? 

ND: Although teaching can be frustrating, hectic and tough sometimes, I love what I do! For the most part, it is fun, meaningful and an honour. Knowing we have helped to give our students the skills they need as they enter the world of work is so fulfilling. The greatest reward for a teacher is seeing their students happy, motivated and living their best life. 

SM: How has COVID-19 affected how you work? 

ND: To be honest, at the time I comfortably yielded to COVID lockdown, although I missed face-to-face contact with colleagues and students. COVID gave me an opportunity to reset and to find a work-life balance. I could be all I needed to be for my colleagues and students online and in phone calls (facilitated by strong relationships and connections fostered before the pandemic) while being available in all aspects for my family. 

SM: What motivates you to get up each day and go to work? 

ND: Every day there is something new and different. Just like the students I teach, I’m always learning – learning from their experiences and learning new ways to engage and inspire my students. Learning enhances self-confidence and feelings of trust, so we can tackle anything that may come our way. 

SM: How do you see your work achieving the Salvos’ mission to transform lives? 

ND: At Oasis College, our mission is to support and facilitate opportunities for our students. We provide relevant and interesting experiences that develop their strengths, foster resilience and encourage learning. With our support, we encourage them to step outside their comfort zones and trust in self. We carry the faith in them until they are ready to carry it for themselves. 


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