Lyn Slockee, Aboriginal mentor at Hunter River High School
Lyn Slockee has been an Aboriginal mentor at Hunter River High School in Heatherbrae for nine years.
It’s a role that makes her feel “needed” and “important”, she says.
“Makes me feel good when I come away having spent a lovely happy day at the school.”
Which are words that could describe why she is there in the first place – to help students feel good about themselves.
Hunter River High’s Aboriginal education officer, Brooke Roach, brought Ms Slockee out of retirement to work at the school, where 22 per cent of students are Indigenous.
Mr Roach, who met Ms Slockee while he was playing rugby league – a sport that is one of her passions – said she was well regarded among the community before taking on the school role.
“The reason I approached Aunty Lyn first was because of the way she is as a person - just always kind, giving and understanding,” he said.
“What Aunty Lyn does, she gives that to all the kids, not just Aboriginal kids.
“She’s a mentor in a role of supporting our kids to have a lot more confidence.”
Mr Roach said Ms Slockee is like a “bird on the shoulder” for students, who have a tremendous amount of respect for the 75-year-old.
“She’s the type of person you want to have a chat to and that’s what she rubs off onto the kids,” Mr Roach said.
“She has so much empathy and sympathy for those kids. She says she loves every single kid, and she tells every kid that.”
Ms Slockee say she floats about the school assisting whoever she can, whenever they may need.
“Some of the children sometimes have problems in the class,” Ms Slockee said.
“You go and sit with the girls or the boys and they might still play up, but not in a bad sort of way. I might have a little bit of influence, but out of respect they behave.
From the Ugarapul tribe, Ms Slockee grew up in Queensland before moving to Tea Gardens in 1966.
She raised three sons there with her late husband, before moving to Raymond Terrace in 2004. She’s an Aboriginal artist and spends her spare time playing bingo.
Mr Roach said Ms Slockee is a inspiring member of the community and integral part of the school.
“She puts her hand up for anything, she’s always helping. She’s the type of person who, if she knew someone was sick in your family, would come round a clean your house.
“She’s one of a kind.”
Ms Slockee, humbly playing down her role, says: “I can listen to their stories but I can’t save anybody’s life. I might just plant a nice seed in their head.”