Maddy: “Without Gibbo here at Brighton Secondary, I don’t know if I would have lasted through high school. I don’t think that I would have, I think that sometimes the pressure might have gotten too much and I would have just given up.

My name is Maddy Buchner and I’m the founder and CEO of Little Dreamers Australia and today we are sitting at my high school, at Brighton Secondary College in Melbourne.

I grew up as a carer for both my brother and my mum who both have a range of chronic health conditions and allergies, and my brother has a lot of learning difficulties. So, I founded Little Dreamers to make sure that no young person grows up feeling isolated and lonely and guilty for feeling that way like I did growing up.

My favourite teacher was Karen Gibson or we used to call her Gibbo, or we still do call her Gibbo!”

Gibbo: “Wow! Does this bring back memories?”

Maddy: “Yes! When they announced school captain, I think I was sitting over there and we had to walk up and I tripped on the microphone cord.”

Gibbo: “I can’t say that you were… No, I won’t say that you were clumsy Maddy but… [laughing]”

Maddy: “She was our welfare coordinator and for me that was really important. The first year I came here my mum got sick and that was really hard for me, and I used to spend a lot of time with Gibbo in her office and it gave me an outlet that I needed when I was at school. If you think about all the gossip and all of the bullying and all of the things that happen when you’re at high school while you’re turning into the person that you’re supposed to be and having someone like Gibbo was incredibly important. I don’t think I would be half the person I am today or where I am today without someone like Gibbo at my school.

Maddy to Gibbo: “You walk into a room and you’re like a ray of sunshine and you can’t be sad when Gibbo is around. And you can’t… Nothing seems too big and I think that that’s part of your caring nature in that you care for every student as if they were your own child and I think that that’s really special.

Gibbo to Maddy: “Thank you! I am glad that comes across because you really do. I mean, I don’t think kids understand sometimes that as teachers we really do care. We really do care, and it is like they’re your own little kids and you’re watching them grow up, and that’s been one of the great things about being at this school for such a long time and seeing kids come in at Year 7 and going out at Year 12. It’s incredible.”

Maddy: “I don’t think the realises the impact that she has on students’ lives and I think it’s really important that she knows how special she is and how instrumental she is in creating and shaping the young people that come through Brighton Secondary College. I honestly don’t think that I would have achieved what I did through high school let alone achieved what I have since high school if I didn’t have someone like Gibbo throughout high school.”

CLICK HERE to find out more about Little Dreamers – Creating an International community where every young carer feels supported, valued and empowered.