LLV Life (Part 3): Insights from an inhabitant

Lindfield Learning Village (aka LLV) is a progressive K-12 comprehensive school which opened in Sydney, Australia in 2019. In Part 1, we heard from the perspective of a new Year 5 student to the school. Part 2 gave insights into the process undertaken to create LLV. In this next installment, we hear from the heart of another inhabitant – a citizen, a parent and as well, a teacher.

Image: Lindfield Learning Village Vision & Values cards

When I first read an article about UTS Ku-ring-gai being closed down to open up a new K-12 school, I was intrigued. The article didn’t say much about what the school would be like, but it spiked my interest.  I followed the progression of the new school closely, I would even drive by randomly to see whether the building site would give any indication of when the school would be opening and what it would be like. 

Looking back, it was fortuitous that I stumbled upon that initial article. Strangely, I didn’t hear about the information nights prior to the school opening and it wasn’t until after I had placed an application at the local school that I realised that applications were open for Lindfield Learning Village. I applied straight away for my daughter to begin Kindergarten (aka Kindy) in 2019, the first year of LLV.  We didn’t hear back for quite a while, although something still held me back from accepting the offer to go to the school of our local catchment. 

One day, I was sitting in my office when I accepted a call from a number I didn’t know. It was Stephanie McConnell, the Principal of LLV and she offered my daughter a place. I was beyond excited which must have translated in my reaction as I recall Steph saying she was glad she rang. We went straight into orientation and I was jumping for joy the entire time. 

There has not been a single second that I haven’t been grateful for that phone call. Everything about LLV felt ‘right’. My daughter, in Kindergarten, was coming home telling me what a digraph and trigraph is, she was telling me about a beautiful transdisciplinary unit that the whole school became involved in where Kindy students were solving the crime of who had pushed Humpty Dumpty. It was immediately obvious that the quality of teaching and care was high. 

Image: An LLV Kindergarten class in action

I was now working at one of the Youth Off The Streets Schools which took Stage 5 students (Years 9-10) who were in crisis – a majority of these students were living in transitional housing. This was where I rediscovered my passion for working with young people and that building relationships and connection is what I thoroughly enjoy doing. Helping young people to find their ‘click’ moment in whatever it is that they are learning about. 

I decided to start working casually at LLV. Everything happened so quickly! I went from being a casual teacher, to having a part time contract, to a full-time contract and then to permanency. Now, I cannot imagine my life without LLV. I cannot fathom working anywhere else. I never thought that I would be able to find a place of work that aligns so well with my personal beliefs on education as well as my approach to parenting my daughter.

Image courtesy of Lindfield Learning Village

My days are filled with joy as I am surrounded by people who have a shared passion for education and for connecting with young people and being in an environment where empathy and wellbeing are top priorities. I work with people whose thirst for knowledge is never quenched, where we are continually reading the latest research and working on our pedagogical modes to ensure that whatever it is we are doing each day, is what is currently defined as best practice.

Our goals in terms of education are to constantly ensure that the work that we offer is more than just a playpen with restrictions, that it is a playground where the students can continually build on and improve their current knowledge and understanding. In Primary, we aim to have all the work that we offer accessible to all, giving multiple access points to the work while also ensuring that there are endless opportunities for extension. There is no ceiling for learning as adults and there certainly should be no ceiling for young students either. It is invigorating to have the ability to help students to find their passion for learning in the same way that we have found ours.

There is no doubt that what we do is exhausting – there are long hours and continuous iteration as we reflect daily on how we can improve what we have to offer. However, being in a place where wellbeing and connection is accepted and acknowledged is the first step towards achieving a sense of belonging. Once that sense of belonging is achieved, passion in academia will follow. This certainly is my experience as an educator and I believe it to be the experience of my daughter who is now thriving in Year 4.

To learn more about the creation of LLV and key steps in implementing a process of pedagogical transformation to enable the school as it is today, read It takes a village to educate a child: LLV’s evolving story of building innovation in a context of constraint published in IUL Research Vol. 3 No. 6 (2022): Innovative Learning Environments: rethinking School Spaces between Pedagogy, Architecture and Design.

Kirsten Ammann is a passionate educator who considers herself a life long learner. She is a mother, a traveller, forever inquisitve and a lover of life.

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