One educator’s learning story makes its way to an Olympian’s ears, with heartwarming result

One educator’s learning story makes its way to an Olympian’s ears, with heartwarming result

by Freya Lucas

June 20, 2022

Molly Smale is a dedicated educator at Elements Belmont by Busy Bees known for the work she does in supporting children to follow threads of interest and learning. Recently, thanks to a little help from four-year-old Aria and her family, Molly’s efforts were recognised with a  beautiful video message from Olympic hero Cathy Freeman OAM.

 

Aria first learned about Cathy’s amazing achievements when she was introduced to her story as part of an intentional learning experience when Molly read the book ‘Our Home, Our Heartbeat’ by Adam Briggs to celebrate famous Aboriginal people to the children before organising a viewing of Cathy Freeman’s famous 400-metre gold medal-winning race in Sydney.

 

“Ever since that day, Aria’s keen interest in Cathy Freeman has continued to grow,” Molly explained. 


“I love hearing about the fun Cathy Freeman-related podcasts she listens to, and the awesome Cathy-themed races she gets up to at home! She does not stop talking about Cathy Freeman and always asks to watch the race or read the ‘Cathy Freeman book’ every time I enter the room.” 

 

Molly shared this continued interest as part of a learning story, which Aria’s family then passed on to Ms Freeman, who responded by sending a video message in reply. 

 

“Molly, thank you for being the wonderful teacher that you are. And Aria [thank you] for being the most loveliest little girl,” Ms Freeman said. 

 

To continue to build on Aria’s interest, Molly sourced new books on Cathy Freeman for the children to enjoy.

 

After reading one of them about how Cathy made a sign reading ‘I am the world’s greatest athlete’ when she was a little girl to put on her wall and help inspire her to reach her dreams, Aria decided she wanted to make a sign that said that too. 

Molly supported Aria’s learning, spelling the words with her the first time, before Aria then repeated the activity a number of times on her own. 

 

“Aria has continued mass-producing posters so she can put them on her wall at home and at the service,” Molly explained. 

 

Educators have also created dedicated running tracks in the yard, which Aria uses along with her friends in pursuit of her dreams. 

“Aria won many races but also gracefully lost many too; she is a wonderful sport and is always happy no matter the outcome,” Molly explained. 

 

“Aria is the (Cathy Freeman) expert now, so I let her answer all of the other children’s questions, and you bet she has all the answers. It is wonderful to see Aria so excited by such a fun and inspiring topic.”

 

“I truly believe that whatever Aria decides she wants to do in life, she will achieve her dreams. She has the same drive and enthusiasm that her idol Cathy Freeman has and is very determined too.”

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