“When I am encouraging them to apply I often tell my students how much my CEF grants helped me while I was at uni.”
For Crystal Stewart moving to Kangaroo Island was an opportunity for full-time teaching roles straight out of university for both her and her then boyfriend, now husband. Little did they know six years later they would be well ingrained in the 4500-person community; on committees, homeowners and seeing students they taught return home to begin their careers.
“A young woman Kangaroo Island Country Education Fund helped studied occupational therapy and she has just finished her degree and moved back to the island. To have her on the island bringing skills back is important, because previously we didn’t have someone here full-time in that role.”
“Lots of our recipients do end up coming back, or at least doing their placements here.”
Having received a grant from Torrens Valley Country Education Fund in 2010 to help her pursue a teaching degree from Flinders University, Crystal knows the benefits CEF can have on a young person’s life, but she never really thought of getting involved until she was approached by the Kangaroo Island committee.
“My dad was on Torrens Valley CEF committee, and when I moved here he mentioned to the Kangaroo Island secretary that I was living on the island. That was four or five years ago now.”
“It has been good to get involved and know how things work on the other side. CEF doesn’t take much time, we only have meetings a few times a year, and they are mostly on the phone.”
“I’m now part of the student selection sub-committee, which plays well with my role as teacher at the island’s only school,” Crystal says, adding that it can be a tough role: “A lot of the kids I’ve taught. I know some of the background stories and it’s hard not bring in my perspective. But it’s also good for the other committee members, because I know some things students can’t or won’t share in their applications that may inform our decisions in their favour.”
Despite the pull of resources most small-town committees face, she says Kangaroo Island CEF is in a fortunate position.
“We are well known and talked about within the Kangaroo Island community. We have a large presence within such a small area, so students and families know us.
“Country areas all over are struggling to get committees up and running, or at least bring in new members. It’s often the same people on the same committees, getting more people involved is always helpful.
“I certainly encourage recipients to see how they can help. We always try to encourage students to check in with the committee. We love to know how they are going, and to hear how they are.”
If you are a current recipient or alumni and would like to be involved look up a local committee near you here.