Inspired by coffee and community connection, a new café and multi-purpose hub has opened in an unusual location – Evatt Primary School.
The Nest officially opened to the public yesterday, Wednesday 9 June, aiming to caffeinate and support parents while replacing the morning drop and run culture.
Featuring a fully functional coffee machine and a small kitchen currently run by teachers, the Nest was funded by an ACT Government Supporting Parent Engagement Grant to provide a safe space for parents to their build capacity as effective carers and members of the community,
The school also leads initiatives and enrichment programs through The Nest, including a reading café which is open each morning, cooking lessons and cyber safety lessons.
Principle Michael Hatswell said that as Evatt tries to change the traditional mindset of the school in line with the Future of Education Strategy, the new café is a great way to begin.
“We know that the most influential teacher in our kids’ lives are their parents or their important carers at home, so how do we work with those people at school so we’re all singing from the same song book?” he said.
“It’s really about educating parents just as much as we’re educating kids … if they know the strategies and skills that we’re teaching the kids at school and they’re on the same page as that, we know it’s going to be effective at home.”
P&C president Candance Safi was one of the committee members who helped The Nest take flight. With twins in Year 5, she said the idea behind the design was to turn an “unloved” room into a fully functional, welcoming area with additional space utilised for the school uniform shop.
“Part of the grant requirement was to meet the criteria of meeting the needs of the community,” she said.
“For us, we’re all about bringing in different groups, having new people in the community coming in … making it a space in the morning that they can be welcomed because for a while there, it was very much just drop and run.”
Lesley Boland spends most mornings in The Nest with her five-year-old son Arthur.
As a new Kindergarten student at Evatt Primary School, she said that being able to spend an extra 10 minutes with Arthur in the mornings makes their time together “more relaxed”.
“It makes dropping him off at school a little bit casual … I’m not just dropping him off and running. We come here and sit down for five or 10 minutes, read a book, have a coffee and then I walk him out to the assembly in the morning,” she said.
“If you have time for it, it’s worth slowing things down a little bit.”
Ms Boland has also been making use of the enrichment programs that have recently started at The Nest, using them to help her son with his reading at home.
“I was excited and quite keen to participate in it and to make use of it.”
Partners of The Nest include the University of Canberra, Libraries ACT, ACT Playgroups, Cyclabilities, and Capital Regional Community Services.
The Nest also has significant support from the wider Belconnen and Canberra community, including Sauvage Urbain Kitchen Store, Three Mills Bakery, Assembly and Woolworths Charnwood, receiving donations from many of them.
As The Nest takes flight, the plan is to eventually expand and have Evatt Primary School parents operate the coffee machine while they connect with their children and one another.
“We’ve got a bigger vision down the track,” Mr Hatswell smiled.
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