The advantages of raising your kids in a country town
As a parent, you want to do as much as humanly possible to raise wonderful adults that are balanced, well-educated and empathetic. You worry about bad influences, giving them enough of your time and sending them to the right school.
With so much to weigh-up and consider as a parent, it’s not surprising that one of the first questions people ask before they make a tree change is, “What are the schools and teachers like?”
This was also a consideration for now married Coolamon school teachers, Kaarin (28) and Thomas Besgrove (28). Not only did they fall in love with each other the first year they started teaching at Coolamon Central School, they also fell in love with the community and all the opportunities afforded to their kids.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to raise a family – to know there is the support and community that cares, means the world to us,” said Kaarin who teacher Kindergarten to year 12, and offers Career Support.
While Kaarin grew up in Coolamon Shire, she went to Charles Sturt University in neighbouring regional cities, Wagga Wagga and Albury. She jumped at the chance to return home for a permanent job, knowing the pathways the local schools provide.
“I honestly can’t think of many disadvantages. You can access Melbourne and Sydney easily (both are around 450Kms away) and the schools’ access to resources and technology is phenomenal,” she said.
“There are 20 pupils in each class, so we know every kid in the school. We know their story and what’s going on at home. The relationships you develop, well, you don’t get them in a bigger city school.”
Husband Thomas, who teaches Year 7-12 Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, moved from Dunedoo, loves the town but admits his first week wasn’t quite what he expected.
“My initial thoughts were ‘What have I done?’ But as soon as I turned onto the main street, it didn’t take me long at all to get into the swing of things. It also helped that I met my future wife first day on the job,” he laughed.
He has also been blown away by the career and learning pathways that the town of 4,500 people offers. “There’s nothing we don’t have. For example, we have a set of 20-30 laptops between every second classroom,” he said.
“On top of that, we have a deep understanding and link to the community and businesses that open up meaningful connections and opportunities. One teacher recently organised a volunteering block for 8-10 kids who went to an aged care facility and spent time with the residents. There is now the opportunity for those relationships to continue because of our small tightknit community. In larger school settings it can be easier to fall between the cracks because they don’t have that connection and close relationships,” said Thomas.
“We’re also close to regional major centres. With Wagga Wagga less than 30 minutes down the road, we can organise workplace opportunities for students.”
These also extend to careers outside of agriculture, he stressed. “There is tremendous flexibility and tailored learning for students who want to access a particular subject that isn’t offered at the school. Schools go out of their way to get the student access whether it be through online learning through other institutions or TAFE,” Thomas added.
There is also SBAT- School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships- which allow students to get their HSC but also come out with a TAFE certificate. They break up their week between workplace learning, TAFE and lessons in the school.
Beyond the access to schools, the access to other services either in the town or close by, means that they want for nothing.
Take a town tour of Coolamon!
“Some people could think that in a small town you’re sheltered and live in a fishbowl but Coolamon is not like that. Wagga, Canberra and Melbourne are close so you get to give your kids a taste of everything. We can take the kids to Canberra to watch the League or Melbourne to watch the AFL,” Thomas said.
The cost of living has allowed the couple who are expecting their second child next year, to prepare for their expanding family. “We are building our dream house with four-bedrooms, a study and two bathrooms. It’s a huge block, just under half acre in a new estate in town,” said Kaarin excitedly.
Both are also active community members. As well as playing for the local AFL and netball teams, they launched Music for Mates a suicide prevention program.
“We started Music for Mates in 2014 and run a range of events, concerts and free mental health courses for young people in our rural communities. It’s our baby and passion project. Something that is really close to our hearts,” Kaarin confided.
When they aren’t being pillars of the community, they also like to indulge in social activities and say despite common misconceptions, there’s actually a lot to do between the clubs, pubs, local Cheese Factory and other tourism hot spots. The community and local parks are also a big bonus.
“Some of things I love most is the community and parks. First week I was here people were saying hello and welcoming me, asking me where I was from. One of the biggest things that drew me in also was how well kept it is. To this day, the Shire Council makes such an effort all year round. I expected there would be down patches, but it always looks beautiful,” said Thomas who said he couldn’t have made a better Country Change.
His wife agrees.
“You really do get the best of both worlds here. My advice is to give it a go because you never know what it is going to be like if you don’t try. And you can always go back… but come and get a feel for our town because you will fall in love with Coolamon!
If you’re interested in finding out more about what Your Future could look like in Coolamon, why not contact us to organise a personalised town tour? We’d love to see you here!