Little wins and big contribution

For the past three years, Christine Johnson has been volunteering at St Michael’s Primary School, Nelson Bay to help Kindergarten children learn to read.

Kindergarten teacher Lisa Henderson nominated Ms Johnson saying she has “never met a more selfless person than Christine”.

“She turns up rain, hail or shine every week with a big smile on her face,” Ms Henderson said.

Although Ms Johnson never had children who attended St Michael's, she offered her time to volunteer as she wanted to give back to her community. 

“Affectionately known to the kids as 'Miss Chris', she sits in my classroom and reads one on one with the children and then takes a reading group and does different activities with them,” Ms Henderson said.

“Miss Chris is so incredibly patient, kind and encouraging with the kids, for ages I actually thought she was a retired teacher, but she thought this was incredibly funny when I asked her and assured me she hadn't been.”

Ms Johnson was inspired to become a volunteer through her love of reading. “I wanted to help children that were perhaps struggling in the early stages of learning,” she said. “I volunteer in the hope that this small contribution might make a difference.”

Her highlight of volunteering is seeing the children learn something new. “It could be they figure out how to read a big word, or their letter ‘s’ is the right way around. It's a win-win feeling, no matter how small,” Ms Johnson said.

It is not just on the children that Ms Johnson is having an impact. “Watching Miss Chris turn up every week over the past couple of years has really inspired me to be a better person,” Ms Henderson said. “We are so lucky to have her.”

Ms Henderson said Ms Johnson has a natural understanding of how children learn to read that has been an invaluable help over the years. “The children and staff at St Michael's benefit enormously from Miss Chris' contribution each week. The children look forward to her weekly visits and it is such a joy to see them engage in something they usually find tricky.”

Ms Johnson said she feels “both embarrassed and honoured” to be recognised for her contribution. “Thank you St Michael's. It's wonderful to be shown such appreciation in this way.”


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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

Brooke is Content Officer for the Communications Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle