Principal Mitchell Drage - Nullagine School
When kids don’t show up to Nullagine School, Principal Mitchell Drage picks up the phone to find out where they are, and if necessary, will go to their house and pick them up. Mitchell’s leadership in Indigenous education dates back to the 1980’s when he attended the National Aboriginal Education Conference in the Blue Mountains, outside of Sydney, NSW, which has been organised by Stephen Bamba Albert. Bamba is an elder from Broome, who has been on the Mobile Try-a-Trade in the Pilbara this week.
Back then Bamba had travelled from his home town of Broome, WA, to put a plan in place that would increase the number of Aboriginal teachers in classrooms from 4 (yes, 4 across the whole country), to a more representative number. Mitchell Drage became one of those teachers, after attending Curtin University as a mature age student, and is now the Principal of Nullagine School, a remote school 300km’s south-east of Port Hedland, WA.
According to Mitchell, strong leadership, engagement, and being up front with parents are the three crucial elements to a positive school community where education is valued.
Mitchell’s challenge to the teachers at Nullagine School is that he will get the kids into the classroom, then they must deliver a high quality teaching program that ensures the students can compete equally with all other children across the country.
“I have to be personally convinced that I have set them on the road to do something better for themselves” said Mitchell.
Mitchell wants to ensure that his students finish school equipped for life, with a focus on continuous learning. Mitchell works with the industries in his region to expose his students to the opportunities available to them if they are equipped with strong literacy and numeracy skills.
For some of the students at Nullagine School, English is one of four of five languages spoken by his students. Read more about Pilbara Indigenous Languages here at the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre www.wangkamaya.org.au