League legend Cameron Smith inspires Walloon school kids
THE visit of Queensland legend Cameron Smith to Walloon State School on Monday looks set to be a life changing experience for 26 outstanding young students.
The Australian captain made a visit to the school after the Year 2/3 class taught by Michael Nunn had made a commitment to 'be like Cameron Smith' after some behavioural issues started to surface at lunch time.
The commitment saw a remarkable turnaround and 30 days of perfect conduct by the class.
Nunn sent an email to the Melbourne Storm hoping he might get a letter of commendation from Smith for his students' turnaround, as a reward.
Smith, taking time out from his family holiday, knew of the e-mail and planned his own surprise visit.
"Cameron told my principal that he wanted to come to the school but not to tell anyone," Nunn said.
"My principal then said on the Friday that he wanted to teach my class on Monday and I thought I must have been doing something a bit average.
"Then he turned up at 12 o'clock with Cameron, his wife and three kids."
The Storm captain spoke to the students for 30 minutes, answered all their questions, interacted one-one-one with them and left them even more determined to 'be like Cameron Smith'.
"They all agreed they don't want to be known for wasting Cam Smith's time," Nunn said.
"They all feel a responsibility not to let Cam down and that he is now a part of our class."
Nunn had previously noted some behavioural issues with some of his students that needed addressing, mainly with the boys at lunchtime.
"I am not talking knives or Shawshank Redemption type stuff," Nunn said.
"They were just overly aggressive at lunch time and I'd then have to spend 10 minutes sorting out the 'he said, she said', 'he pushed me', 'he said my shoes suck' sort of stuff.
"It was just a hassle.
"I spoke to the guidance officer and he suggested I get a role model for the boys.
"I came up with Cameron Smith and found some footage of him playing in his calm, methodical way.
"I asked the class, 'What do you notice about him?'
"They all said he was calm and just going about his business.
"I purposely picked a game where the Storm were losing and I said, 'Did any of you notice the score?'.
"They said, 'the Storm are getting smashed'.
"I said, 'But does Smith look upset, panicked or cranky? Is he kicking anyone?'
"They said, 'No'. But I then said to them 'If you did the stuff you do at lunchtime like pushing people over and calling people names you'd be sin-binned all the time'. That resonated with them."
The students are Ipswich Jets supporters and the young boys want to play for the Jets.
"So I said, 'If you were at the Jets then Ben and Shane (Walker) wouldn't have you because you would be a liability'," Nunn grinned.
"You can't have a guy suspended. They understood if that happened they couldn't be a Jet or play NRL. For an eight year-old boy that is pretty devastating."
Nunn went home that night and did up a few posters with key messages on them, based on the feedback he had received from his own students about what makes 'Captain Cam' tick.
They included statements like: I am going to be calm. I am going to not get upset. I am being a leader. I am going to make good choices for my team.
"I put them up around the room and with the three or four boys who were involved with football issues at lunchtime I stuck them on their desk," Nunn said.
"I spoke to them again and I kept hammering the message every day.
"We went 30 days without an issue, whereas previously we didn't go a day without an issue."
In the question and answer session young Lilly Fletcher asked Smith if he would play for Manly, because she is a Sea Eagles fan.
Nunn said the answer was a cracker.
"Cam said, 'Look I'm 32 now. I've got three more years at the Storm. You've been doing your maths so what age will I be them?'
"Lilly said '35'. Cam said, 'Right, but that will probably see me out'."
Nunn asked Smith whether he would come back and have a year with the Jets.
"He said, 'I might'," Nunn grinned.
If that happens then North Ipswich Reserve will be packed to the rafters.