Jessica Mumford

Laynhapuy Homelands School, NT

Dhalwaŋu, Wangurri, Djapu, Munyuku, Ḏäṯiwuy, and Gumatj
Early Career Teacher

Jessica Mumford is the Student Wellbeing and Inclusion Coordinator for Laynhapuy School, a cluster of nine Homeland Learning Centres across 350kms of NE Arnhem Land, providing education for First Nations children from birth until Year 12. The school has a focus on two-way learning and ensures a strong Indigenous Language and Culture program is embedded at each Homeland Centre, enhanced by Learning On Country. Jess’s role is instrumental in creating an inclusive environment where students feel safe, welcome and respected, and where teachers understand how to cater for individual needs.

Using the Berry Street Education Model, Jess has developed game-changing resources and training for local Indigenous teachers and Visiting Teachers, so they know how best to work with students, including those who have experienced trauma. More school days have resulted, with Yolngu teachers feeling more empowered to open school on days when no Visiting Teacher is present.

Jess has also developed individual resources for students and coordinated support for them from local health agencies. She travels to the Homelands on a weekly rotation, meeting with families to ensure they have a voice in their child’s education and engagement goals. Collaborating with Yolngu Health workers, Jess developed a version of a ‘Ready to Learn’ scale which discussed emotions in their local Indigenous language, equating emotions to different types of water.

Many students have made exceptional progress with local health providers commenting on their enhanced wellbeing. Student emotional literacy and regulation has improved, and attendance has also significantly increased (at one Homeland, from 24.5% to 75.5% in just one year). Jess says she feels privileged ‘being a teacher in this incredible place, surrounded by incredible people and students who continue to amaze me’.