Belmont High School, VIC
The Cabinet of Lost and Found, 2008
Belmont High School is a comprehensive school with the population of a reasonable sized town. Within this large number of students great diversity, aspirations and abilities abound and with the school motto of 'Building Harmony and Success' in mind, you will find the Special Education faculty operating, innovating and thriving. These special needs classes are shining examples of the best qualities of comprehensive public education - that societal need to focus on the broad sweep of education with the expertise to home in on individual needs without fear or favour. The aims of the Special Education faculty are to engage all the students regardless of ability lev, VICel to reach their potential, to integrate them into the broader school environment and to encourage each student to be enriched by their time at school.
Students from two of these classes were the participants in Red Room Education, which was conducted in the classroom involving twelve students from classes between Years 7-12. The poetry program was part of their overall literacy work but also allowed unique levels of self expression, individual work and collective cooperation. Within a framework of intellectual and other disabilities at a moderate to more severe levels, all the students were able to contribute into this age-appropriate and creative program. Co-ordinated by classroom teacher Mark Liston, the team included Yvette Fulton and teachers' aides, and the students received one-to-one assistance from Australian poet Ivy Ireland to create the poems and write them as needed. The students produced an exhibition of posters and paintings that accompanied their epigrammatic poems.
Ivy Ireland is a poet who haunts a second-hand bookstore café in her spare time. Ivy has worked as many things in her curious life, including a magician’s assistant, a harpist and a casual lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle, where she completed her Ph.D. in 2012. Ivy’s first book, Incidental Complications, was published in 2007 and her more recent collection, Porch Light, was published in 2015. Ivy was awarded the Australian Young Poet Fellowship in 2007 and has won the Harri Jones Memorial Prize and the local section of the Newcastle Poetry Prize. Ivy’s poems and reviews have been published in various magazines and anthologies both in Australia and overseas.