Reaching new heights with practical pathways

News - Jul 19, 2021

After completing Year 12 during the COVID-challenged school year of 2020, Grace Lutheran College graduate, Mayne Johnson, had some interesting decisions to make regarding his goals and short-term plans post high school. With the help of some of his past teachers at Grace, Mayne has found what he describes as "the perfect role" for him at this stage in his life at somewhere very familiar to Grace students - the Luther Heights Youth Camp (LHYC).

Like most Year 12 students, 2020 alumni Mayne Johnson faced a lot of "big questions" when contemplating his next steps after graduation.

In a sentiment familiar to many new and impending graduates, Mayne describes the pressure felt throughout Year 12 to pursue a university placement.

The plan, initially, was to do teaching and/or musical theatre. I was actually offered a Diploma of Musical Theatre, but deep down I think I knew that I wasn’t ready to go straight into Uni and that I was looking for a different type of experience at that stage in my life.

At the time, it was a big decision that was pretty stressful. All of my theatre mates were encouraging me to do the diploma as they felt I’d really excel in that. So yeah, I had a bit to weigh up...but received some really good advice from a few of my old teachers at Grace which helped. I still am planning on pursuing one of those pathways at uni, but not just yet.

It wasn’t until Mayne undertook a work experience day at LHYC, that things became a little clearer in his mind for what he potentially wanted to do in the immediate future. 

I was struggling to weigh up the pros and cons of either going into the workforce in a proper role or going to Uni. I contacted Leisa Jones (Head of Vocational Education & Training Department at Grace) and discussed where my head was at. 

Leisa was amazing. She took so many things that were happening in my life into account – my newly found lease on fitness, my desire to possibly pursue a career in teaching, the fact I wasn’t necessarily ready to go straight into uni immediately after high school. She really did help a great deal to put things into perspective and remind me that I am still so young and that I have heaps of time to go into tertiary education at another stage in my life.

After sitting down with Mayne and working through how he was feeling about the possibility of going to university or joining the workforce, Leisa came up with the suggestion of a work experience day at LHYC.

This opportunity would provide workplace experience (which could also result in paid work), as well as deliver a practical learning element.

Leisa set up a work experience day for me at LHYC, which was genius really considering what I was interested in and passionate about at the time. Although it was a long day, I loved it and knew almost immediately that this was possibly a place I could provide some value in. Meeting some of the staff that day…they were super inspirational and really motivational. When it came time to apply for a position there, Leisa also helped with my resume and application letter during my last few months at school.

Reflecting on his time as a young Year 7, Mayne agrees that his recent employment at LHYC is quite serendipitous considering his experiences when attending the LHYC Year 7 camp back in 2015.

During my work experience day, my supervisor was completing a safety briefing for the flying fox (our most challenging activity) with a group of Year 7s. Towards the end of the briefing, he said, ‘Mayne will be going first and waiting for you at the end!’ Bear in mind this was an activity I wasn’t able to complete when I was in Year 7 at the camp! My fitness wasn’t great in Year 7, so that didn’t help my confidence and ability at the time. So yeah, that was an interesting twist of fate. Now I’m the one encouraging young year 7s to undertake that activity!

Asked if working at LHYC has allowed Mayne to stick with his new fitness regime, the answer was an emphatic yes.

During Year 12 in the lockdown, I found a new desire to get that part of my life sorted. In regards to maintaining that, after school there was always the worry that I was going to get super busy with Uni or work, and I’d lose the routine, but LHYC definitely encourages a healthy lifestyle to both their staff and the students they work with. So, it’s definitely been great in that respect, that the tasks I’m required to undertake at work require a certain level of fitness to be maintained.

Discussing what experiences and subjects have helped Mayne to pursue this opportunity with such enthusiasm and confidence, he immediately credits his time with his Grace Academy teachers while in the Performing Arts program.

Learning how to facilitate equipment, groups, activities, being a mentor to young people, it’s been amazing how things like my experiences in the performing arts programs at Grace have helped with that. I wasn’t very confident as a young middle schooler, but entering into those programs with the teachers I had, just helped in a lot of ways I didn’t know it would outside of school.

Asked what the plan is for the next few years, Mayne is definitely not setting anything in place outside of his current role with LHYC.

After finishing school, this was my first ‘real’ job and proper workplace experience. I’ve been so happy getting up and going to work every day at LHYC, and really can’t believe my luck at how well it fits into where I wanted to be at this stage of my life. Because of that, I just want to focus on being a good employee and take in as much as I can. There’s lots to learn, not just in regards to the specific activities etc. but how to be a teacher and mentor to younger people.

I am waiting to start a Cert 4 in Outdoor Leadership through TAFE in June. Again, that was a recommendation through Leisa Jones and LHYC, so that I can add more value as an employee. It’ll be busy times working five days a week while studying, but it’s something a lot of the staff at LHYC have already done so I’ll be supported.

To contact the Vocational Education & Training Department, or learn more about work experience opportunities, visit the Vet Pathways webpage.

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