Some may say it takes a tough individual to work with troubled teens.
But simply having a humanistic approach can result in positive outcomes for young people who have fallen between the cracks.
John Morgan, of Oyster Bay, has earned a Medal of the Order of Australia, for service in education and youth rehabilitation.
The former principal of Dorchester School for Specific Purposes (now the Dorchester Education and Training Unit at Campbelltown) has worked within juvenile justice centres and for the corrective services academy.
He supported young people under the age of 16, mostly working with the senior girls’ class.
“It was very challenging because as a teacher straight out of college, I was working with youth who came from very disturbed backgrounds,” Mr Morgan said.
“I learnt more in that time that I did in my whole career.”
He was in charge of working with male and female offenders in Wollongong, and helped those who had served 75 per cent of their sentences, into further training or employment.
“We had some fantastic success stories – I wish they were in the majority but sadly they were in the minority,” he said.
“It was minimum security, so you could say they were the best of the worst kids. We just did the best we could with them.
“Changing the educational face of juvenile schools is what I consider to be my biggest achievement – to see students go from using pencils in the classrooms to doing things they enjoy, like brick-laying.”
Mr Morgan was also the first principal of a behaviour school at Loftus in 2002, and became a consultant for anti-violence organisation Enough is Enough in 2011.