Wilbur Klein

Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School


Wilbur  Klein

As a twenty year old Wilbur (Charlie) Klein together with the community established a small remote school in an Indigenous community in the Kimberley of Western Australia as the only non-aboriginal person living there for three years. Now many years later he is the Principal of the most remote school (Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School)  in Spinifex Country in the Great Victoria Desert of Australia

In a desert environment, which is bi-cultural and where English is a second language, he applies innovation and creativity. He has implemented long-term strategies to lead change, working closely with the community. The foundation of this is a unique structure with four extended teaching days within the classroom and one day a week learning externally in the bush with community. He leads his school to build students who are happy and engaged with a strong sense of self-identity and strength as indigenous people.

One of his hardest tasks is attracting and retaining teachers. With Notre Dame University he has set up an annual Immersion camp to inspire undergraduates to work in remote schools when they graduate. Five participants have returned to remote locations as teachers, one of them to Charlie’s school. The camp has led to a significant increase in the quality of school physical resources, and given students opportunities for our to learn about others.

With the Indigenous Literacy Foundation Charlie developed a Spinifex Writers Camp involving four other schools, including a remote school from a thousand kilometres away. Children learn illustration and story writing with leading children’s book illustrators and authors.The camp has led to a significant increase in the quality of school physical resources and given students opportunities to learn about others.