Creating a future free of fillings

As part of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Schools Office High Potential and Gifted Education program, the Virtual Academy provides students with the opportunity to go beyond their classroom curriculum and complete research projects close to their hearts, or even their teeth!

At the 2023 Virtual Academy Showcase day, where students across the Diocese presented their projects to panels of experts, one presentation stuck out like a sore tooth.

Ivy Mansfield, a Year 6 student at St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead, and a budding talent within the academy, captivated the panel with her unique creation—a self-authored book on dentistry – The Bad Cavities.

The Virtual Academy serves as a supportive learning pathway for students like Ivy. With a focus on high potential and gifted students, the Virtual Academy provides personalised support through dedicated staff and regular video conferences. This collaborative environment encourages students to explore diverse disciplines and tackle real-world challenges through inquiry-based learning.

Ivy is just one of a number of Virtual Academy students from St Paul’s, and one of many students from across our 58 Catholic Diocesan schools.

Candice Gibson, Gifted Education Mentor at St Paul’s Gateshead, said “I have the pleasure of working closely with Ivy and her Virtual Academy peers, helping to guide them, along with the Virtual Academy educators, with their individualised learning. Ivy is a perfect example of a student who benefits from the gifted programs our Diocese offers, as she thrives when engaged in individualised learning programs focused on her needs, interests and abilities”.

Ivy meticulously crafted Bad Cavities with her original illustrations and storyline. Motivated by a concern for dental decay among younger children, Ivy took it upon herself to address this issue.

Ivy’s concerns stemmed from a statistic she became aware of, that around 1 in 4 (24%) children aged 6–14 had experienced dental cavities in their permanent teethi.

Ivy has been putting her book to good use, educating Kindergarten students on the importance of brushing their teeth.

Ms Gibson said it was obvious the kinder class enjoyed the story based on the interesting questions they asked Ivy when she finished reading.

"They learned a lot, thanks to the fun and engaging way the facts were presented, and it has been great to see Ivy reading her story to younger students who were the target audience she had in mind during the creative process,” she said.

Beyond her literary endeavours with the Virtual Academy, Ivy is also an accomplished dancer and has been a performer in the Catholic Schools Office’s ASPIRE program since she was in Year 5.

Ivy’s journey reflects the supportive environment fostered by the Virtual Academy. Ivy is highly motivated, creative and driven, and the learning environment created by the Virtual Academy fosters the type of challenging learning high potential and gifted children require.

Through her initiative and creativity, Ivy has made a positive impact within her school community, raising awareness about dental health and inspiring students to take proactive steps toward preventive dental care. Sharing her wisdom with young students, to create a future free of fillings.


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