Sherwood Cliffs School
Sherwood Cliffs School has been established as a ministry of Sherwood Christian Rehab Centre Inc. to offer Christian education to the children of staff and clients of the Sherwood community.
The school commenced in 1983. The school is affiliated with Christian Schools Australia and part of the CSA NSW Registration system. The school is registered until 31 December 2009. The school had 6 children enrolled during 2007.
Sherwood School has been educating children for 25 years in its unique position inside a residential drug rehabilitation programme. The students are children of the staff or seekers (those seeking help for their addictions).
The staff are strong willed, highly motivated and ‘sold-out’ to Jesus’ leading of them to work at Sherwood. Their children reflect their parents and are strong, compassionate personalities in the classroom.
The seeker’s children also reflect their parental influence and come to school with a myriad of social labels, eg. ADD, ADHD and ODD. They have lived with physical violence requiring police intervention – emotional violence requiring psychiatric placement – danger from drug dealers and users – lavish living for a day when the social security is ‘in’ and then 13 days of chasing hand-outs from welfare agencies, shopping at op shops and dining out at soup kitchens. Parents often spend most days sleeping and night times to ‘rage’ so the children are ‘strung-out’. The lack of sleep, poor diet and minimal parental interest/ability leads to poor school attendance.
When the parents voluntarily admit themselves to Sherwood the children are relieved of their self-imposed role of minders (for parents) and can be given an opportunity to enjoy being children. The transition is not instantaneous with the geographical change. Old habits die hard!
I am constantly in awe of our wonderful teacher, Julie Ward, who gently takes these hurting children and ensconces them in a school environment of love, predictability, firmness, fun and creativity. Acceptance is the number one priority then followed with assessment of academic performance (which is often at great variance to chronological age). Once appropriate age and ability levels are determined then it s on with the task of enjoyable education.
The parents are encouraged to be involved at the school, helping to de-mystify education and welcoming to people who are intimidated by the ‘establishment’. The children are even more proud of their achievements when their parents are involved and interested.
Because of the instability engendered through drug use, sudden departures from the programme occur. With no planning
for housing or schooling they demand to go – leaving Julie the unenviable role of brave, comforting mentor as she releases these precious children to an uncertain future. Julie maximises the academic and emotional input as the length of stay is so unpredictable. Although a commitment to a full school year at Sherwood is encouraged and has proved to achieve the best results, it cannot be legislated.
The operation of the school, under Julie’s capable leadership, enhances the work of Sherwood to see lives changed for eternity.
Honi Reifler Chairperson Sherwood Christian Rehab Centre Inc.