Specialist teacher helps St Peter Claver College triumph at Queensland Mental Health Achievement Awards


​Caption - Social Justice Captain Ricco-Vaoa Webster, Fisher House Captain Lousie Hinds and Guidance Counsellor Michelle Sams.

A school Guidance Counsellor has helped her students win a state-wide award – and proven her dedication to the benefit of student-led learning in the process.   

St Peter Claver College Riverview Guidance Counsellor Michelle Sams is known for dedicating her time to the matters that are important to her students, providing a helping hand, and an ear to listen. 
Michelle's contributions this month saw her school team secure a top prize in the 'School Award' category at the Queensland Mental Health Achievement Awards. 
The Brisbane Catholic Education specialist educator guided students Ricco Vaoa-Webster, a Social Justice Captain, and Louise Hinds, a Student Leader, to victory with their entry ‘The Claver Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiative.’   
The initiative, promoted around the College via a series of posters created using student artworks, helps students maintain mental wellness and connects students to information and resources where they can find support.  

 In the process, Michelle utilised the concept of student voice, where students are empowered to have their say in shaping their own learning and school environments with the benefit of strengthening safety and belonging.  
What has resulted is an improvement in student mental health and a reduced stigma around asking for help among students, says St Peter Claver College Principal Bruce McPhee.  
He attributes the school’s victory to Michelle’s willingness to listen to students.  
“Michelle understands we are not just teaching our students, but educating them holistically, creating young people who are global citizens, who have the tools they need to look after themselves so they can give back to others,” he says. 
“Together with Ricco and Louise, Michelle is the driving force behind the shift in our College community that continues to champion mental health and encourages students to seek support. 
“Michelle is making a profound difference in our students' lives and helping to provide them with the tools they need as they leave our school gates and enter the real world.” 
Meanwhile, Michelle credits the win to students Ricco and Louise. 
“Ricco and Louise are the brains behind ‘The Claver Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiative,’” she says. 

“I believe the reason the initiative was so successful was the fact the project was student led. 

“It is an incredible initiative for our College and an amazing legacy for Ricco and Louise who will soon leave our school community as they prepare to graduate.  

“I know this initiative will continue to grow and make an impact for many years to come." 

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