Here at Westpoint we’re celebrating Neighbourhood Good. We’re proud of our community, and the people working in it to help others. In our neighbourhood, people are creating positive change every day, making lives better, taking care of those in need and creating a place where we all feel safe and welcome. That’s why we’re sharing their stories with you – to show you that there is so much good in our community, and to say how proud we are to be a part of it. Because ours is a place for everyone, where our community comes together.
Meet Carmen Cefai, Principal of Blacktown North Public School.
Carmen has worked in education for over 20 years and at Blacktown North for seven, and she says she’s in awe of her students every day.
“Our students are incredible,” she says. “They have a love for learning. They always strive to do their best in every way. They work very hard in the classrooms. But most of all, you can see the respect that they have for the staff and also the way they treat one another. They just basically look out for one another.”
“The other thing I adore about these students,” she adds, “is the fact that they respect the differences within each other. We have a lot of different cultures within our school. And they really respect that.”
Indeed, the school has students from 33 different countries presently, which brings a rich diversity to every day.
“I find this incredible and wonderful at the same time,” says Carmen. “Our students and parents are able to have that essential opportunity to learn about and understand different traditions, different cultures, and also accept each other for who they are, not where they come from.”
“I think that we provide a sense of belonging, a sense of acceptance of each individual,” she continues. “A sense of belonging, not just for the students, but also the parents, and the ability to learn from different cultures and the wonderful things that each culture brings to our school.”
Of course being an educator can seem to many of us a hard – and at times thankless – job, though Carmen sees things differently.
“To be honest, I never think of my job as being hard, but rather being able to work hard to make a small difference with the community,” she says. “From the time I can remember, I've always had a passion for learning, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to share my passion and my love for learning and instil the idea in my students that, no matter who they are, no matter where they come from, they can be what they want to be and they can achieve anything that they set their mind to.
“I want to ensure that every child and parent in my school feels that they belong. It’s about creating a better future for Blacktown’s children, no matter who they are.”
The school is very active in the community – something that Carmen is very proud to foster, too.
“We’re very involved, especially with the local homes for the elderly. We invite them to our school every Grandparents Day. We also have children that visit the homes on special occasions to celebrate things like Easter and Christmas,” she says.
“As well, our school celebrates the different festivals that are represented in the different cultures within our school in a meaningful way. First, the children learn about the different festivals, like Chinese New Year, Eid, Diwali and NAIDOC for example, and all the community is invited to join us. One of our biggest celebration days is Multicultural Day, when the community is invited into the school.”
For Carmen, the joy of seeing the world through her pupils’ eyes is always rewarding.
“It's absolutely incredible when you see the children so excited about something they've learned or something new they've done,” she agrees.
“It’s a bit of a cliche, but children form our future. It's essential that we educate and teach them all the important aspects of becoming a great member of society by ensuring that they have the strength to be themselves and achieve what they strive to achieve.”