Julie Lorenz

From a grandparent, whose grand-daughter completed the entire SHINE Academy curriculum six months ago:

Dear Melissa,

I had a birthday celebration Saturday night and Georgia was the star of the event thanks to you. She was friendly and confident and when asked by one of my friends who has known her for many years why she was so confident and self-assured she took great pride in talking about Shine and Miss Anderson and all the skills she had learned. It was wonderful to see her operating so differently. She said “Grandma, I’ll hand the savouries around and I can meet everyone that way. OMG is that Georgia Lorenz !!! She has started high school and really blossomed, she goes off confidently, is respectfully opinionated about so many topics and life seems to be on a whole new trajectory for Miss Georgia. We are forever in your debt and will espouse your virtue forevermore. Sincerely we are so very grateful to you, you are a sage, mentor, magician with developing young people. Please feel free to show this letter to prospective clients as they really need to know the life-changing program you present. Wishing you all the best.

Warm regards

Sincerely, Sophie, aged 12, Shelford

I started Shine at age 9, and finished two full courses (7 – 10 and 11-14). It was such a great program, where I learnt to be a wiser, and better person. The girls there were such great company to me, and my teacher Miss Anderson helped me a lot to be prepared for the future.

Liliana, aged 11, Loreto Toorak

I would like to recommend Miss Anderson and the Shine Academy to any girl out there who wants to improve her confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

Last week I graduated the 11-14 year old program which was the second year-long program I have completed with Shine Academy.

I’m sad to end this this part of my journey as I’ve made so many new friends and learnt so much from my friendly mentor (Miss Anderson)

I encourage any girls out there to participate at Shine Academy and learn to find and celebrate their true self.

Alyssa Langdon, aged 12, Jells Park PS

Alyssa completed the entire 4 terms (32 weeks) of the SHINE Curriculum. This was her graduation speech.

“When I arrived at my first SHINE class I was nervous and afraid that no-one would like me or want to be my friend.  But instead I found lots of new friends who, like me, were having difficulties with bullies at school.

My parents wanted me to come to SHINE because I was being bullied at school and not standing up for myself and wasn’t confident to try new things.  They convinced me to try 1 term at SHINE.  I agreed, but I was nervous to come.  For the 2nd term they gave me the choice to return, and again I wasn’t sure but thought I’d give it another go.  That’s when I really started to enjoy it and learn about ways to build my confidence and self-esteem.

Now I’m sad to be finished, but proud of myself for making it to graduation.

Before SHINE I was shy and nervous to try new things, stand up for myself or get involved in activities I was good at.  Since attending SHINE I’ve built up the confidence to attempt my first piano exam after learning to play for over 2 years.  I’ve also joined a squad team for swimming that I was ready for around 3 years ago, but I was always nervous to try.

I was actually meant to graduate from SHINE at the end of last term but unfortunately I was on school camp.  So I haven’t been coming to SHINE this term, but I am still using everything I’ve learnt from Miss Anderson.  This includes how to deal with bullies, speaking up in class and using conversation starters.  I’m having a lot more fun at school now by using my chest voice and smiling more.

I’d like to thank my parents for encouraging me to come to SHINE and Miss Anderson for teaching me so many great life skills, and finally my friends at SHINE for their friendship.”

Stephanie Macdonald, Firbank

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Stephanie Macdonald and today I am graduating from my twelve months at Shine Academy for Girls.  I have had a wonderful experience at Shine and have learnt a lot.

Shine has taught me to be resilient and to bounce myself back up when life gets tough.  And as Mrs Anderson says “take a spoonful of concrete and toughen up”.

Shine has taught me to handle different situations in a positive way, instead of looking negatively at them.  I have learnt how to handle different personalities such as ‘try hards’, ‘passive aggressive’ personalities and ‘aggressive’ personalities.

I have learnt to have self-respect and to respect others, and not judge by what people wear and how they might talk.

I have learnt to not talk about people behind their backs and to talk to their face instead.  I have learnt how to pronounce words correctly like ‘probably’ and ‘library’.

Shine has taught me to not be forced by peer group pressure and to make my own decisions.

I will take what I have learnt at Shine with me wherever I go.  I would like to thank my classmates for being good communicators, and I would especially like to thank Mrs Anderson for the valuable life skills she has taught me.  I would also like to thank my beautiful parents that have given me the wonderful opportunity to come to Shine Academy for Girls.

I hope my fellow classmates are going to enjoy the rest of their time at Shine Academy.

Thank you for your time and I hope you have a lovely day.

Isabelle Mongey, aged 10, Firbank Turner House

Good evening lady’s and gents,
I’m here to talk to you about how much I’ve learnt at shine academy for
girls. First I’d like to thank miss Anderson for teaching me fogging,
how to use my chest voice and to be an assertive hero. She also taught me
that um, ah, nup, nah, yep, yeah, well and like are not part of the
English language. Thank you for all that you’ve taught me, I can’t wait
to come back to the next level when I’m 11.

My highlights were playing with dress ups with my friends and my biggest
highlight was Ms Anderson because she is so kind.

Next I would like to thank my friends from shine for helping me learn and
for all the fun times we’ve had.

Finally I would like to thank my family, my beautiful sister Kira. My two
awesome brothers Jake and Zac and of course my wonderful loving parents
for helping me down this leg of the racetrack of life!

Thank you for listening goodnight.

Mia Gualano, aged 9, Stella Maris PS

Mia completed the entire curriculum over four terms. This was her speech at the Graduation Ceremony:

“Good evening Ladies and gentlemen

Firstly I would like to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to attend Shine academy for girls.  Secondly, I would like to thank Miss Anderson for being a wonderful teacher and supporting me over the last 12 months.

This is my final day at Shine academy, and the whole experience has been very positive and helpful for me in many ways.

Miss Anderson has taught me how to be an assertive hero, how to deal with bullies at my school, and not to be a passive doormat.  I feel a lot more confident now, and the things I have learnt have helped me to make and keep friends, and also how to deal with difficult situations and feelings.

We have played some great games throughout the year, including awkward, marbles and the self-control game.

I am going to miss Shine Academy, and also the girls that I have met while attending my classes each week.  I will also miss my lovely teacher Miss Anderson.

I would recommend Shine Academy for girls to anyone, and I look forward to joining the 11-14 year old girls class when I’m older.

Good evening and have a good night.”

Beth Kaabar, former student, recently married Mount Waverley, Melbourne

“I have never before, nor since, had such an influential teacher as Melissa Anderson. She first taught me when I was seven years old and I’ll never forget her classes. She is a woman with natural charisma who automatically lights up a room. It was simply impossible not to hang onto every word she said. My weekly classes were something I longingly looked forward to each week. She influenced my life and work habits in lasting ways and I thank her very much for it.”

Lena Chant, mother of Alex, aged 12, Mentone PS

It goes without saying that Alex will also miss you and the lovely rapport she has developed with you. You often come up in our conversations with Alex and she will often quote things that you may have mentioned or referred to. Your words of wisdom have certainly had a profound effect on our Alex. We can see a new maturity in her over the 12 months, since commencing the Shine Program. We thank you sincerely for the care you have shown Alex and the safe, warm and nurturing environment you create in your classroom.

Karen and John Winnett, parents of Ellen, 12 years old, Mentone Primary School

You taught Ellen some very important skills while she was at Shine. Important, but things we’d never even considered teaching her. Things like how to greet people and shake hands, how to handle situations when people disagree. Things that we as adults sometimes take for granted, but are learnt skills – and it’s much better to be taught the right way to do things than have to learn everything by trial and error. She enjoyed going each week and came home with only positive things to say about her evening.

Keep up the great work –  as parents we appreciate everything you’ve done for Ellen. I’m sure she’s a much more confident person as a result as I’ve seen her use the skills she’s learnt from you many times already – especially with us. I’ve even used a few of the ones she’s taught me!

Madeleine Joy, aged 12, Bentleigh West Primary School

Madeleine completed the entire curriculum. This was her Graduation Speech:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen thank you for coming tonight.

First of all I would like to thank my parents for spending their time every Thursday driving me here to Shine Academy for Girls. Second of all I’d like to thank my classmates for all their support, friendship, their welcoming spirits and warm souls.

Last but not least I would like to thank Miss Anderson. I have looked forward to every Thursday after school this year. Miss Anderson is always kind, positive, lovable and stunning. She has given me skills that I will carry through my lifetime to be shiney.

I would like to present a gift I have made with my mum’s help to represent my gratitude and love for Miss Anderson. The front of the quilt represents the colours of her love for icecream. The back represents all the girls she has touched in some way at Shine Academy for girls.

I hope you can use this as your quilt when you eat ice cream and reflect on what an amazing teacher you are. The world would be a safe, loving and kind place to be if there were more Miss Andersons in it.

I will miss my classmates and the wonderful experience with Miss Anderson.

Thank you Miss Anderson

Anette Kulesza, Mother of Lauren, aged 8, Firbank

“Lauren thoroughly enjoyed her course in Emotional Resilience, and to this day we reflect on the material covered.  Certain situations present themselves and Lauren now has a set of tools in her ‘emotional resilience tool box’ that she can apply. It is of great importance to have skills taught at home but it does have more impact when this is then reinforced by a professional. Thank you Melissa for such a valuable learning experience, and making it fun.”

Warm Regards

Ann-Maree Cheung, mother of Bambi, aged 12, Cheltenham Primary School

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your continued support and giving Bambi the foundation to create a happy Positive Life.

She has gained so much Confidence, Self Respect and she now acknowledges the choices she makes will affect her future.

I have watched her change, become more self-aware as she continues to grow.

She faces her challenges with Inner Strength and Resilience that I had not seen in her previously.

She enjoys her time spent at Shine and is looking forward to next term.

With Kind Regards and Great Appreciation!

Toni Arthur, mother of Tristeace aged 8 years old, Carnegie Primary School

Dear Linda (Principal of Carnegie Primary School)

Recently I attended a seminar on raising resilient children, delivered by Melissa Anderson who founded the Shine Academy for Girls. I was informed of the seminar by an advert in your newsletter. From that seminar, my daughter was invited to attend a free class. I believe that just from that one class my daughter gained several new and valuable life skills.

My child has since been attending class one day every week after school, and her ability to deal with life’s little struggles such as making friends and keeping them, dealing with failure and success, dealing with her anger and other emotions, have all improved exponentially. She is now a much happier child who is able to successfully overcome all kinds of challenges in her daily life.

I would highly recommend all parents enrol their children in this program regardless of their child’s level of social skills.


Alison Kennedy, mother of Indigo, aged 10, Melbourne Girls Grammar.

Indigo attended Program 7 and 8 (From Shyness to Healthy Confidence and How to Become a People Magnet) and I have watched her successfully use her newfound skills in many social situations.
I think that the success is due not only to the important messages, self-respect, how to say “no”, how to make friends, confidence and public speaking, but, also, with how they have been communicated, giving the girls a “safe place” to try these new confident behaviours. In addition, I think it is useful being taught by a trusted third party and role model, Miss Anderson.

The skills taught are important to us all, and our girls in attending Shine are able to develop these positive habits at an early age.

Thank you!

Ella Curry, almost 9, Brighton PS

Ella completed the entire curriculum. This was the graduation speech she prepared herself:

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank all my classmates for helping me throughout this journey.

I would like to thank my parents for sending me to Shine.

I would also like to thank Miss Anderson for being a great teacher and supporting me on my way.

At Shine I learnt lots of great things like how to stand up to bullies and how to be a good sport.

Miss Anderson has made learning fun and easy.

Once a bully from my school tried to bully me but I used what I have learnt from Shine and two weeks later she asked me for a play date and stopped bullying people.

I have loved it so much that I want to go again.

I don’t only want to go again because I will miss Miss Anderson, I want to improve on my Shine skills.

Good evening and good night.

Vanessa Davie, mother of Annabelle, 10, Brighton Beach Primary School

Thank you Melissa and Shine Academy for the wonderful work that you have achieved with my daughter.  You have helped to restore her self-esteem and you have provided her with the tools to stand up to the schoolyard bully with dignity, authority and most of all respect.

We will be back with our other daughter.


Brittannie Probst, Glen Eira College, Year 8 Junior Ph.D of Leadership

Brittannie completed the entire curriculum in March, 2012 (four terms). This is her final Graduation Speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize in advance if I start blubbing in the middle of my speech. This past year at Shine has been so amazing that I think I’ll start to cry if I think about having to leave too much. I have learnt so much this year that it’s almost like being at school, except Shine is fun, so really it isn’t anything like school. Each time I get a glimpse of what my future holds, like writing resumes, going for job interviews or really anything that requires some sort of professionalism or understanding, I look around at the other people my age, who are all looking very confused and worried, and I sit there feeling so glad that I’ve been taught how to handle situations. Shine has helped me so much, especially with making new friends and schoolwork. I was recently moved up a class at school and with all my knowledge from Shine, I found it really easy to make friends and be independent enough to catch up and excel in all my schoolwork, so now I’m having a really good time. I’m so grateful to my parents for giving me the opportunity to go to Shine, even though at first when my dad presented Shine to me, I was like ‘Pffst, an etiquette school for young ladies? No. I am not walking around for hours balancing books on my head.’ I’m just glad he managed to convince me that that wasn’t the concept of Shine. Massive thanks to Miss Anderson, who has been one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. She has so much knowledge to share, I don’t even know how she remembers it all that when I still haven’t memorised my eight times tables… And another thanks to my awesome class mates, who are all amazingly nice and hilariously funny. Thank you for listening.

Angela Sorpreso. mother of Belinda Neighbour, aged 12, Cheltenham Primary School

Belinda Neighbour attended the SHINE Academy for girls Program 3&4 ‘Emotional Resilience’ & ‘Life’s Toughest Lessons’

Belinda loved and looked forward to attending every lesson, she came through this course with a better understanding of self-esteem & being a positive human being, she is able to be more resilient with her sister and understands that every individual is a different person in their own way. Many thanks for your kind and wonderful course structure we will be looking at more courses in the near future.

Many thanks!

Angela Mellas, mother of Aphrothiti, aged 10, Brighton Primary School

I would love to let you know and give you some feedback about one of your Shine graduates. Aphrothiti was recently interviewed at a modelling/casting agency (as she would love to get into acting). During the interview I noticed her newfound confidence. Surprisingly, Aphrothiti also encouraged her brother in the interview to get up and  ‘shine’ when he felt shy.

The interviewer noticed this kind and mature gesture by Aphrothiti and commented on that during the interview. When we left Aphrothiti looked the interviewer straight in the eye and confidently shook her hand and politely thanked her.

I knew alot of how Aphrothiti interacted in the interview was because of her experience at Shine. The next day the Agency rang and said they loved the children and accepted them.

I have always tried to teach my children manners and how to be confident, however I would like to acknowledge YOU for holding the light so children can really ‘shine’.

Thank you, thank you!!!!

So when you are tired and you haven’t had dinner and you get home late….always remember that what you are doing is making a difference to a little girl, who will grow up to be a young woman, who can contribute to her community and her world because you cared and held the light so she could SHINE.

Thank you Melissa for giving Diti’ some great life tools that I know she will carry with her throughout her whole life. Not only does she now know how to give a great handshake, she also learned that being extraordinary IS an attitude, while also being a decent human being. Her light is definitely ‘SHINEing!

My Sincerest Thanks,

Tonya Gladstone, mother of Laura, 12, King David School and Charlie, 10, Geelong Grammar

Both my children suffer from social anxiety. Shine Academy and Longford and Fraser have been amazing for teaching them in a fun and relevant way how to handle social situations and how to feel better about themselves. When my daughter started at Shine, she could not get up in front of her class let alone a room full of strangers without completely falling apart and laughing hysterically. After one term she was able to give her end of term speech without so much as a giggle. Shine Academy and Longford make each child feel supported valued and worthwhile. Melissa also lets the children know, in a kind, caring yet firm and direct way, how she expects them to behave and what the consequences of their choices will be. My son has gone from strength to strength, he is making more friends at school and is becoming more relaxed in social situations. Melissa should look to implementing her programme in schools – it would do the world of good for the youth of today who are subjected to images of perfection that no one can really live up to.

Peter, daughter attends Kilvington

Thank you for your uncompromising resolve. Our daughter has responded to your wisdom beyond our belief. I congratulate you for the wonderful work you are achieving with our precious children, who will determine our future. There is no greater gift you can give than knowledge and logic. You have rare quality and once again I thank you.

Jazz Watson, aged 8, Haileybury

After completing all four terms, Jazz delivered this speech at the graduation ceremony:

Firstly, I’d like to thank my parents for giving me a better chance to be a better person by enrolling me in Shine and a great school Secondly, Id like to thank Miss Anderson for teaching me to have: • Self-respect • A nice heart • Giving the bully zero power • To be grateful that other people win • And how to go to a job interview. Thirdly, Id like to thank my peers for making me feel happy. I am going to miss you all. Every time I walk into shine I feel excited because I like to play the games and learn something new My lesson for life is to be myself no matter what and to have a good heart My favourite games are: • Marbles because it’s a game of chance – as long as you do a good roll • Shake hands murder because it helps us with our handshakes and determines a good handshake to a bad one • And noodle fencing because you have to be brave to hit the other person first below the knee. Goodnight and farewell and thank you for listening.

Mollie Williams, aged 13, Mentone Girls Secondary School (School Captain of Balcombe Grammar)

The Graduation Speech of Mollie Williams after completing the entire SHINE curriculum:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome!

At the start of this year I walked into Shine a shy, yet excited, young girl but I don’t stand in front of you all today as that little girl any longer. I stand here as an assertive and somewhat resilient young lady and as a Shine PH.D graduate for December 2011.

I have so many people to thank, to my incredible Mum, Dad, my 2 sisters and my amazing little brother Carter for not only driving me here and home again every Thursday afternoon but just for being by my side so supportively for the last 13 years. I love you all so much.

To the awesome girls who sit behind me today, who not only made my Thursday afternoons the best ever, but for being so beautiful, inside and out.

And finally to Miss Anderson, who has been such an amazing teacher and friend to me for the past 4 terms. I have learnt so many ‘tricks’ and ‘skills’. I thank you deeply from the bottom of my heart.

So I leave Shine now as an ‘assertive hero’ and I know that I will walk out of here today and take with me lifelong confidence, lifelong friends and lifelong memories.

To conclude in the words of Dr Seuss “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” And now I know that where ever I go I will shine!”

Tina Manuel & Craig Robinson, parents of Alexandra, aged 12, Gardenvale Primary School

Confidence is when you walk out of a Shine session and happily apply what you have learned with your family and friends.

Pride is when you want to teach your family and friends what you have learned.
Alex has displayed both Confidence and Pride.  After the first session, Alex walked out with a smile and said, “That was the best”
Thank you Melissa and Shine Academy.

Thanks again


Charlotte McGuinness, almost 8 year old

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to tell you about my year at Shine Academy.

When I started at Shine, I felt nervous, but I was also excited to meet Miss Anderson and all my classmates. I was looking forward to learning new things that would help me.

The 4 most important things that I learnt and would like to tell you about are:

  • Number 1 – To be positive, happy, laughing, smiling and looking for the good in everything. In other words, I want to be someone others want to be around – a people magnet.
  • Number 2 – That while I will always try my best, I may not always come first or win. I know that I will congratulate the winner and show good sportsmanship.
  • Number 3  – sometimes I ask for things but I am not allowed to have them. I will show respect by accepting the reason and not having a tantrum.
  • Number 4 – Inside beauty, in my heart, is more important than outside beauty. I tell myself, “I rock!”

Lastly I would like to thank Miss Anderson for teaching me so many important things and all my classmates for being supportive and helping me to learn.

Kylie Reis, mother of Gidget Reis aged 8, St Brigid’s Primary School – Mordialloc

Melissa Anderson has a unique combination of qualifications that allows her insight into the pressures of modern day on our children. She has recognised some of the negatives repercussions of this trend such as the alarmingly high number of children being diagnosed with depression & the downside to technology associated with mobile phones, msn & online social websites.

I found her approach to teaching children to be more resilient totally refreshing. Her class structure of role-playing, games & group discussions is not only age appropriate but is also brilliantly disguised in fun. Gidget looked forward to her classes & always left with a smile.

I feel confident Gidget now has the tools & knowledge to successfully navigate her way through the ups & downs of life.

We look forward to returning to Shine Academy.

Alexandra Chant, aged 12, Mentone PS

You know when you walk into a room and you can feel everyone’s eyes on you?

That squirmy feeling in your stomach?

You start to second guess yourself, wonder whether you look perfect enough for everybody there.

Should I have done corkscrew curls or a messy bun?

Worn my skinny jeans or my chinos?

Does my “derriere” look big in this?

That guy certainly thinks so!

Most of you probably wouldn’t know what it feels like to walk into Shine; however, every girl behind me knows this sensation. The overwhelming feeling of contentment, happiness and a sometimes triumph when you win the Caramello koala for not saying “um “or “yeah”. Which to let you know, I am trying very hard to do tonight.

I guess what I am trying to convey is that walking into ‘Shine’ on a Thursday night is a whole lot different from walking into the room I was talking about.

The girls here don’t judge you for what clothes or shoes you are wearing let alone your hairstyle.

They‘re more understanding and compassionate than the average person.

I’ve learnt to look out for others, voice my opinion, and become the Shepherd instead of the sheep.

“To be a star you must shine your own light, follow your own path. Don’t worry about the darkness for that is where the stars shine brightest”

This was printed on a card I received from Miss Anderson, and I think it will be the thing I take away with me from Shine.

I think that will be the thing I add to my backpack, my backpack of life-lessons. The backpack that I will take with me as I start my journey into the big, wide world…

Anyway, I am Alex Chant, good evening and good night!

AhilaAmarasinghe, mother of Amy aged 11, St Patrick’s Primary School, Murrumbeena

“My daughter Amy (11yrs) attended a combined course of ‘Emotional Resilience’ and ‘Life’s Toughest Lessons’
Being a very gentle and sensitive child, Amy benefited from this course in many ways but mainly in learning how to be more confident of herself and therefore not constantly seeking approval from others.   In building Amy’s social needs, she made many friends there and looked forward to going every Wednesday.   She LOVED Melissa, who understood all the children there so well and made it a fun atmosphere in which to learn. The girls were taught in a gentle but solid manner.

Thank you, Melissa for your dedication and love in running this program to help our girls in their formative years“

Jordie Mellas, Year 7 at Sacre Coeur

Jordie Mellas has completed the entire curriculum (four terms) at SHINE Academy. This was her graduation speech:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Tonight is my last night at shine academy for girls, and I just wanted to say firstly a big thank you to all the people who have helped me through my good and bad times, especially when they made me laugh.

My favourite lesson, I don’t think I have one because I’ve loved every minute of this wonderful journey, although, last lesson, we had to say a sentence after Miss Anderson. The sentence was: one smart fellow, he felt smart. We had to say this three times. However some of us got a bit tongue twisted, so by the third time, half the class were saying: one smart fellow, he smelt fart, by accident. That was really funny.

Moving on, shine has taught me skills I will keep with me for life. It would take me months, if not years, okay maybe not that long, but a long time anyway, to list all of them, so I have two words, assertiveness and resilience.

Thank you and good evening.

Aimee Harris, aged 14, attends Glen Eira College

Shine Graduation speech after completing the entire curriculum: Aimee Harris

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, As this is my last and final speech, I will endeavour to remember all of my t’s, d’s, and k’s. To start off I would like to thank my parents. They have been so supportive throughout this whole course. I’d also like to thank them for helping me revise over all of the content from each week. This has really helped me to grasp the key concepts. Miss Anderson, I’d like to thank you for all that you have taught me over the past year. One lesson that I will remember for the rest of my life is that intellectual intelligence isn’t everything. Morel intelligence, social intelligence and emotional intelligence play a bigger role in your life. I also love this one quote that Miss Anderson gave me. If you can’t see what’s beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror. The most helpful things that I have learnt are by far all of the different ways to handle bullying and anger. Such as; the Brocken record, the WIN formula, when you… I felt… Next time… and agreeing with the bully. One piece of knowledge I will take with me forever is how to be a people magnet and how to speak professionally. My favorite lesson wasn’t actually that long ago. It was week 4 of this term. It was my favorite lesson because I learnt about the self-worth chart and that it is not rational to be good at everything. That week we also watched a video about conjoined twins. These twins had so much resilience it motivated me so much. I will always be constantly working on becoming an assertive hero. However, my goal is to be completely happy in my own skin. Thanks to Miss Anderson and my peers here at SHINE I have become so much closer to my goal. Every week I would always look forward to Thursday afternoons because I could not only learn new stuff, I could hang out with all of the shine girls. The atmosphere was always inclusive, respectful, fun, welcoming and sometimes a little bit crazy! Lastly I’d like to thank my peers for being so supportive the whole time. I am one of the eldest here at shine and every week all of the girls surprise me with their maturity. My favorite game here at shine has been noodle fencing. This is where you basically fence with pool noodles. It has been my favorite game because every time you play all of the girls cheer you on. Congratulations to Elise for winning the noodle fencing championship last week. I’d also like to thank my peers for just being there when I need you, I feel I can talk to you guys about anything. One last thing that I want all of you girls to remember is; always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else. As some you may remember, Josie Bert moved to Sydney last term. Josie and I have kept in contact since and she wanted me to say that she misses everyone heaps and wishes she could see everyone soon. I wish you all the best, Good evening and Goodnight.

Antoinette De Luca, mother of Sebelle Cohen, 8, St Kilda Park Primary School

I am so grateful Sebelle has had the opportunity to work with you and experience SHINE. We use the term “shine” for the moments inside when we feel our vibrant selves fully.
Although Sebelle is in her last term at the Academy I would appreciate it if I could put her name down for this particular term again (Program 3&4) when it comes around to repeat and revise the information.
I believe it would be very beneficial for her going forward.
I would recommend SHINE to anyone.

Grace E, aged 13, who completed Program 7&8 in Term 4, 2010

Thank you, thank you so much for such an inspiring and enjoyable experience. I’ve never done anything quite like the Shine course. I’ve been thinking it over, and I suppose what I liked most about it is that it gives you so much important life information without being preachy. The girls at Shine are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And you, Melissa, are such an inspiring teacher.

Jordan Boland, aged 13, Kilbreda College

Jordan has completed all four terms at SHINE Academy. This was her graduation speech:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
Firstly, I would like to thank my Mum and Dad for sending me to SHINE Academy for Girls, for this amazing opportunity. Next I would like to thank Miss Anderson for being such an inspirational teacher, also I would like to thank my beautiful class mates especially Gracie who has been with me the whole way.
I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship for programs 3&4 by an anonymous member of the community and I am extremely grateful for that.
SHINE has helped me so much, before I came here, speaking in front of a crowd, making a speech or presenting a project to the class terrified me. Now, even though I still get nervous I don’t absolutely freak out!
Also before I came here I was saying “like” all the time; just ask my mum or Gracie they used to count! Now sometimes when I hear people talking, some of them say it every second word and I think to myself did I really used to sound that terrible? I can barely understand her anymore.
I’ve learnt so many amazing things at SHINE it’s hard to choose my favourite, but I think it would have to be learning how to handle some of life’s toughest lessons – rejection, criticism, conflict, bullying and failure. I think that course has helped me the most.
Now I don’t know what I am going to do with my Thursday afternoons. I look forward to coming to SHINE every week and seeing all my new friends.
I have 64 hours of knowledge that I can keep working at, to help me in my life.
All the courses have gone so fast and I can’t believe that it’s over and that I’m graduating. I really don’t want to leave and I hope that there will be many more courses in the future.
So again, thank you again to everyone.

Kate Craven, mother of Steph, aged 12, OLSH

Over the past few weeks, I have seen Steph develop into a calmer, more co-operative and open young lady. There is no tension or frustration around us and that feels great!

All of this is thanks to you!

Melissa, you truly are a remarkable woman. Last night, during the graduation, it was so apparent that you are saving dozens of young people from going through what can be perceived as torture during their school years. Not only that, you are developing them to be better adults, parents, leaders, spouses, co-workers and humanitarians.

I have no doubt that for many of these children, had your program not been made available to them, that they would suffer through the most important developmental part of their lives – allowing themselves to be subjects of bullies and narcissists throughout their lives.

Bullying is at epidemic levels around the world and it makes my blood boil that little seems to be done. It all seems to be “talk” and no real action.

I wish that there were 1,000 of you, so that your program could be run across the country.

You are very, very special.

Brijelle Ingram, mother of Jasmine, 13, home-schooled

I have been meaning to email you for ages now, I wanted to thank you for creating Shine academy but it’s so hard to put into a few simple words how much it has meant to us! so i keep putting of the email wanting to come up with something great to say. I don’t think I will ever be able to come up with the perfect thing to say, so i better email you now. Jazz has become assertive she is no longer a doormat and for that we are truly gratefull, she quotes you all the time to her sister, and she thinks it has been so valuable, that she has started her own shine Academy at home where 3 young girls that come over and she does shine classes with them, she even dresses up for it. she has a white board she writes down the class rules and what all the $ is worth like you do, if they say the wright or wrong thing they gain or lose money she has money in envelopes and prizes and games, exactly what you do, she spends a couple of hrs before the class looking at the notes you gave for that class, and writing down what she will teach them etc. this is great as it helps her to remember things she might of forgotten, so its win win all round, she is firm but nice with her students. she was so nervous to do it but really wanted to help her friends as she sees the value in it. Thank you once again for all your hard work.

Isabel Robertson, aged 12, Mordialloc Beach PS

Shine Academy for Girls is the best decision I have ever made in my life. In the lessons we learned how to be resilient. The course is fun and serious at the same time. When I was there I made lots of friends for life. Miss Anderson is the nicest lady I have met and an awesome teacher. When I first met all of the girls I was very nervous but when I got to know everyone I was fine.

To whomever is reading this I would definitely recommend it.

Sonja Rakach, mother of Chanelle, 13, East Bentleigh Primary School

When my daughter started with Shine Academy she had very little confidence in herself and did not know how to deal with her peers without getting her feelings hurt.   After four terms she has gained life-changing skills of how to deal with difficult people and situations as well as being able to make herself be heard instead of other people just pushing her aside without listening to what she has to say.  I would highly recommend Shine Academy to parents, for children who need to increase their self-esteem and/or confidence in themselves, to help them grow and become well-balanced, successful people.

Isabelle Cruickshank, aged 9, Sandringham PS

Isabelle Cruickshank, aged 9 completed all four terms. This is her graduation speech:

*Ladies and gentleman my name is Isabelle.
*I have completed 4 terms at Shine and I am proud to graduate today.
*When I started at Shine I didn’t know what to expect and that seems a long time ago.

*I found Miss Anderson to be a beautiful, wise person, with a good heart. She always listens and understands our problems.
*My classmates are lovely people too. They respect me and they keep me company while I am at Shine. We all talk to each other and share things, happy or sad. At break time we sing and dance to Miss Anderson’s music, and it’s so much fun.
*At Shine I have learned that you should always be kind to people no matter what the situation. Also, you should always stand up for yourself and your friends. You should be resilient because there are ups and downs in life and you need to deal with them. If you are confident you can do challenging things like rock climbing.

*Thank you to my parents for giving me the opportunity to be at Shine this year.
*Thank you to Miss Anderson and my classmates for being my teachers and friends. I have had an awesome time and I will miss you all.


Bridgett Kalpins, mother of Amba, aged 12, Coatesville Primary School, East Bentleigh

My 12 year old daughter Amba has just completed Programs 7 and 8 at Shine academy for girls. Since completing the very fun program, as she puts it, her confidence levels have soared. She was extremely shy and now she is a new girl, bursting with confidence. Amba starts high school next year, and she now feels full of confidence to make new friends and is really looking forward to it. Amba is returning to Shine next year to complete programs 1 and 2. She cannot wait. A big thank you to Melissa. You have done a fantastic job.

Pia Cattapan, aged 14, Firbank, Brighton

In my opinion the Shine Academy for Girls is an excellent program for young girls to develop a better understanding about themselves and the people around them. Girls learn about how to get along with people, how to be polite and how to behave appropriately in different contexts. I have found that these ideas and skills are usually not explained at school or other places so the Shine Academy plays a really important role in teaching girls about life and getting on with people which is hard to find elsewhere. Miss Anderson is a very inspiring and influential figure and is a great role model for young girls. She knows how to handle so many situations that girls find themselves experiencing and is always willing to share skills and interesting past experiences with us. The skills I have learnt at Shine have been beneficial to me in so many ways, for example they have assisted me to act appropriately in peer group situations. I have also been able to share some of the skills I have learnt with my peers, I suppose this has been a demonstration of the leadership that Miss Anderson has shown us.  Thank you Miss Anderson, I shall treasure the skills you have shared with me forever.

Siobhan Thomas, aged 12, Carnegie Primary School

I just wanted to say thank you for being an excellent SHINE teacher this year. I am really happy I participated in SHINE this term, and I believe that I have learnt some really valuable life lessons that I will definitely be able to use later on. I now say “um” less, and am careful of making quick judgements based on appearance. I no longer look at my feet when I walk or dance and I know how to handle quite a lot of unpleasant social scenes assertively.

You have been a really positive role model for me, and SHINE has become a welcoming, positive and respectful family. I look forward to coming each week, and enjoy seeing all my friends I have met while doing SHINE.

You have taught me so much, and I look up to you immensely. You have inspired me so much, and I will be eternally grateful for that. Thank you so much, Miss Anderson.

Amelia, aged 8, Melbourne Girls Grammar School

Amelia, aged almost 8, completed the entire curriculum. This was her graduation speech:

“Good Evening, Ladies and Gentleman and fellow students,

As you all know, this is my last term at Shine and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my teacher, Ms Anderson. She has helped me to become courageous and not to be a passive aggressive snake or an aggressive crocodile or a passive doormat. Ms Anderson has shown me how to be an assertive hero and stand up for myself and others. I have made many friends through this journey and I will be sad to say good-bye but I would like to thank them for their friendship and wish them all the best of luck on their journey.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to shine and learn to be brilliant. Thank you for listening. Good evening and good night.”

Rosette Licciardo, mother of Isabella, aged 10, Beaumaris Primary School

We are thrilled for Isabella to be once again partaking in your invaluable lessons at The Shine Academy.  Of course she looks forward to again sharing in your class and most of all, spending time under your guidance and direction. Although it is exciting that she will have completed the course at the duration of this term, it will be a double edged sword as it will be quite sad to say goodbye to you and for Isabella especially – we hold you in high regard and I know that you have given our daughter an extremely high benchmark with which to measure against other people of authority (for which I am indebted).

Personally, you are a person of great warmth and dignity, and with a wealth of knowledge you strive to develop the utmost confidence and potential in the most important people in our lives, our children. We thank you for your dedication to an invaluable cause.

Grace Reiter, aged 13, Kilbreda College

Grace Reiter has completed the entire curriculum (four terms). This was her graduation speech:

Ladies and gentlemen, at the start of Term 4, last year, I walked into SHINE a scared and shy girl and now a year later I can confidently stand here and speak tonight.
I would like to thank Miss Anderson for her wonderful support and wisdom, my parents for giving me the opportunity to come to SHINE and Jordan, who has been with me every step of the way.
Over the past year, I have learnt new skills, met new people and gained a lot of confidence. My fondest memory is losing $110 in the “um, ah, well, like” competition but I have come a long way from there and now I am finishing my SHINE education. Thank you Miss Anderson and my classmates – I will never forget this year.

Cate Barlow, mother of Sally, aged 7, Brighton Beach Primary School

“Our 7 year old daughter had been too nervous to enrol in a regular afterschool drop-off activity before but we finally enticed her to start with Shine & there are no regrets – she has absolutely LOVED every minute there, & has learnt so much about life & relating to people. She is now very much more conscious about respect, self presentation, good manners, public speaking & positive attitudes. It has really helped coming from someone other than us who she is so fond of & has enormous respect for. Thank you ever so much Melissa, & we look forward to continuing with Shine”.

Gordon Shinnie, father of Olivia, aged 12, Glen Iris PS

We were all very overwhelmed when Olivia was recognised last night for her efforts. I personally wanted to thank-you. Olivia works so hard at everything she does and to receive such recognition gave her enormous joy and satisfaction, as she has traditionally been a little “lost in the crowd”. I see this note today as an opportunity to also thank-you for providing Olivia with key tools and strategies that she can use throughout her life. Since her engagement at Shine we have noticed a significant advancement in the way she conducts herself and she is blossoming into a very confident, delightful young lady. Thank-you so very much for all that you have done for our Olivia.

Jessica Murray, aged 10 – 2017

Jessica completed all four terms in 2017. This is her graduation speech:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I would like to start by thanking everyone who has come to this exciting evening.  A few special people to thank are, my parents for enrolling me in the Shine program, my grandparents for bringing me each week, my fellow students for being there when I needed them and lastly, Miss Anderson, our teacher and mentor, for teaching me so many amazing things.   Some of the things we have learnt include how to hold a teacup correctly, how to use small talk and what to ask in conversation and much, much more.   One thing I will never forget is when Miss Anderson showed us a video of a mouse getting cheese from a mousetrap.  He got trapped underneath the bar and showed courage to push up the bar and escape with the cheese.  I learnt from this that we need to use our brain and problem solve rather than giving up.   A quote that sticks in my mind is that ‘You become like the 5 people you send the most time with’.  I think we all need to choose these people carefully.   Finally, the lessons learnt in Shine have inspired me to read more about amazing, strong and courageous women in history.   Good evening and best wishes to my fellow graduates.  Thank you all for listening.

Name Withheld – Bayside Resident

Our daughter (8 years old) has thrived in the Shine program this year and is very excited to be participating again next year. She has grown in confidence and has handled a difficult bullying situation, which is now a thing of the past. She was so distraught when she told us earlier in the year that she was being bullied. This included being physically pushed around, told she smells, her lunch smells and general personal taunts. The two girls involved also broke things that she had made regularly.  We chose not to intervene as our daughter panicked because she didn’t want to be seen as a ‘dibbydobber’ so I sat down with her and asked her what she could do to help herself. She decided to take her ‘problem’ to her Shine group. Where 22 beautiful girls gave her understanding, empathy, support and more importantly (with Melissa’s guidance) strategies to take home. I picked up a very different girl that night, She looked empowered and happy. Something we hadn’t seen for a while.  Two weeks later I asked her how things were going and she said, oh *Sarah (not real name) and I are friends now, everything is ok. She then said ‘What you have to understand mummy is *Sarah is not a bad person, it was just her behaviour that was bad’. The girl who was the main instigator of the bullying then asked if she could have my daughter for a play date. Sure I said, come to our place!

Our daughter’s teacher has also informed us that she has removed herself from a particularly toxic group friendship and is now choosing to play with other girls. I am delighted that she is beginning to make good choices around friendships and that she has been able to distinguish between people and their behaviours, this has been due to the skills she has learnt at Shine, thank you. We reinforce these at home, which has been useful when managing the dynamic between her and her younger sister. By identifying the bullying behaviours that she experienced and identified during the program we are able to get her to think about how she is treating others.

A fabulous program that is showing tangible benefits for those we love the most.

Thank you for bringing this much-needed program to us.

Hannah Walker, aged 14, Mentone Girls’ Secondary College

SHINE Academy for Girls was one of the best choices I made. In doing so I have learnt and matured so much. I’ve learnt social and life skills throughout my time there and have come away a better person. If I could start my terms again I would, because, I believe there is so much more that I could learn. The girls in the class are the most fabulous people I have met and I’m definitely going to keep in touch with them.

Danny, father of Stefanie, aged 8, Glenhuntly Primary School

Stefanie has not only immensely enjoyed her class experience at SHINE Academy for Girls but has also effectively put the skills she has learned to good use. She has attended two programs so far and is very much looking forward to the next one. At the conclusion of each class I have noticed her brimming with enthusiasm and self-satisfaction with the experience and the skills she has acquired so far.

Stefanie is a sensitive, kind and considerate child by nature. For this reason, it has been pleasing for me to see her develop resilience and confidence in order to maintain her beautiful qualities without the risk of being hurt or taken advantage of by difficult people. For example, Stefanie has told me stories about children at her school who formally bullied or excluded her but who now respect her and are queuing up to befriend her. I have also observed her interacting with children of various ages and adults alike with uncommon assertiveness for her tender age (eight years old), but always in a polite and respectful manner.

On a side note, Stefanie has also had to deal with the separation of her parents and I have no doubt her improved communication skills and confidence have helped her to cope with the inherent difficulties associated with that type of situation and enabled her to effectively impart her feelings to me when she needs to talk.

To conclude, both Stefanie and I are very grateful for your wonderful programs Melissa, and look forward with great anticipation to the next one.

Zara Roussel, aged 13, Haileybury

Zara has completed the entire curriculum. In her graduation speech she spoke these words:

“Firstly, I would like to thank Miss Anderson for being such a wonderful, inspirational teacher and for helping me to become a confident, assertive person. It has been fun over the terms and I have made some wonderful friends. I would like to thank the whole class for being so kind and caring. I have had so much fun; I really don’t want to leave.

SHINE has taught me so much, I can’t think of any words to justify just how great it really is. My knowledge of the world and in manners and etiquette has deepened vastly and throughout the terms I have learnt how to become a confident leader. If I had never of come to SHINE and met everybody then I think my life would never have been as good. Since being here I have changed and grown and people have commented on that.

The programs have assisted me greatly but it’s not just them that have helped. It has been Miss Anderson. She has inspired me and has been the one who has made it so great. SHINE would not be SHINE without her.

Thank you so much for supporting me and helping me to shine. Thank you.

Larissa and Ania, aged 12, attending Oakleigh PS

When in the middle years of Ania’s primary school my rather cheerful and outgoing child started experiencing tension and sadness as a result of intensity in communication styles of some school peers I tried to help by talking to her and explaining. Though my insight into the issues wasn’t adequate as I’d grown up overseas and did not have enough experience within the Australian environment. I also lacked specialist knowledge and techniques.
We feel very lucky to have learnt about the SHINE Program just in time to give us the feeling of hope. The program proved to be so well prepared and structured, delivered in the most stimulating and engaging way, and in the friendliest atmosphere. No surprise that all the girls just couldn’t have enough of it and were always impatiently looking forward to the next class!
Bit by bit they were learning and reiterating the techniques of effective interpersonal communication and outstanding personal presentation; how to achieve and maintain emotional stability and wellbeing in the modern very complex and multifaceted social environments. My daughter grew so confident and empowered by the knowledge and understanding she acquired through SHINE, that this final year of primary school proved to be the most enjoyable out of all. I’m glad to hear that more than often Ania quotes Ms.Anderson, happily uses and shares the skills and attitudes she’s learnt in SHINE.
I also obtained the feeling of ease and confidence in my daughter’s social abilities.
We just cannot thank you enough, Dear Ms Andersonpt for creating SHINE and making it available to us!
May the coming New 2013 Year bring good health, prosperity, success and good luck to you and your loved ones!

With appreciation and admiration

Connie Shen, Firbank

Connie completed the entire four term curriculum in 2017.

This was her graduation speech.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, my name is Connie and firstly, I would like to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to come to SHINE, and to wake me up on early every Saturday morning.

Secondly, I would like to thank Miss Anderson for the four unforgettable terms I have experienced and teaching me to be lion not a sheep, how to say no politely and how to be an assertive hero.

My favourite game was marbles. The aim of this game was to roll your marble closest to the cross on the floor as possible. This game teaches us good sportsmanship; if you lose there is always next time.

The knowledge I will take with me for the rest of my life is my FIVE STAR handshake, because in the first 10 seconds of you meeting a new person, they decide if they like you or not. So, I think it is fairly important.

The thing that helped me most at school was the W.I.N. formula. For example, if my friend broke my IPad, I would say: “When you broke my IPad, I felt a little sad and disappointed. Next time could you please be more careful.

Lastly, I would like to thank my peers for the most enjoyable four terms in my life! They have made SHINE like a second home.

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes my speech. Thank you and have a great weekend.

Jessica Norman, aged 8, Beaumaris PS

Jessica completed the entire curriculum in the 7 – 10 year old age group.

This was her graduation speech after all four terms: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls, Before shine I was passive and I was shy. I didn’t make enough new friends. Since starting at shine, I have made lots of new friends and I’m excited to use the manners that I have learnt and that makes me happy. I have learnt that you can give the bully 0% by just smiling. I have also learnt that you can be nice by showing somebody around the school if they are new. I feel happy, good and on fun mode when I am at shine and I feel excited when I walk into shine. I feel relieved that I have done shine because I have taken on challenges and learnt manners that I can now take into my life. I would like to thank my classmates and Ms Anderson, my parents and my friends for encouraging me and for listening to me when I talk about shine. Good evening and good night.”

Marina, mother of Iris, 9, Glen Huntly Primary School

Iris has completed the entire program at Shine Academy. It was a wonderful and fruitful year for her. She loved her Shine classes and adored Melissa, an exceptional role model in Iris’ life. As a parent, I was thrilled to observe the gradual positive transformation in Iris’ social skills. Initially shy and quiet, Iris gained a lot of confidence and self-awareness, learnt how to be assertive and treat others with respect and kindness. Putting these skills to good use, Iris has made new friends at school, learnt to enjoy public speaking in front of the class and volunteers to take additional responsibilities in school social life.

Thank you Melissa, for being such a strong source of inspiration for my daughter.

Siobhan Shippen, mother of Hannah, age 11, Firbank

It has been wonderful to watch her blossom under your wing. She has gained confidence and valuable life gifts that she will take with her wherever she goes.

As a parent, I am so pleased that you offer such an amazing course for young girls & boys. Teaching these skills sets them up for life. I too have enjoyed reading the notes that Hannah brings home each week. Maybe a course for adults would be something you could offer in the future!!

You are a very caring, gentle & lovely soul. We have been blessed that you were part of Hannah’s education.

I wish you all the very best as you continue to transform the lives of children.

Leanne and Tom Coleman, parents of Alexandra, aged 10, Mentone Park PS

On behalf of Tom and myself I would like to pass on our appreciation in regards to the invaluable life lessons and values you have imparted to our beautiful girl through the Shine program.
We have proudly observed her implementation of such in her communication with others and ourselves and dearly hope she will continue to do them constant justice throughout her life.

Natasha, mum of Jessica Ride, aged 11, Firbank

You have become a significant mentor in Jessica’s life at a time when she so desperately needs to have someone strong, kind and understanding to reassure her. I consider Jess and I to be very close and she herself has said that she can “tell me anything”, but I also understand that it is the significant others in a child’s life that can colour their experiences and dramatically affect how they see themselves and their place in the world. Melissa, you have offered your time to listen to Jess and that has meant a great deal to her. I know that she has looked forward to meeting with you at Shine and want to thank you for taking the time to speak with her individually after class.

I look forward to seeing Jessica further develop through Shine in term 3 and commend you on implementing such an outstanding program.

Vikki and Andrew Davis, parents of Keira, aged 8, Caulfield South PS

Andrew and I want to thank you for everything you have given Keira so far. She loves going to SHINE, but more importantly, we believe she has a stronger sense of self, and understands very important concepts that most kids don’t (and many grown-ups for that matter). Seeing her stand up in front of a crowd and talk confidently and clearly (as she has now done – twice) is something we thought we may never see.

This has been the perfect program for our little girl and we are so glad we found you. I now believe every child should have the opportunity to learn many of the things you teach in a formal, structured setting. (And we look forward to enrolling our little boy, Rory, in Longford & Fraser when he’s old enough.)

See you next term.

Best wishes

Simone McDonald. Jaime attends St Leonards

I wanted to thank you for this year with Jaime at Shine. The program exceeded all our expectations and it has been a highlight of Jaime’s week. Winning the excellence award in Term 3 also have her a well-needed boost of confidence. Thank you for everything.

Danielle Joy, mother of Madeleine, 12, Bentleigh West Primary School

My daughter Madeleine was a shy, soft spoken, kind-natured 11 year old girl.

Madeleine has always found it difficult to keep friends and speak in public. Madeleine said to me when speaking amongst her peers that she “didn’t like the sound of her own voice”. As a parent, I was crushed to hear this.
I enrolled Madeleine in the SHINE Academy for Girls and within a very short time Madeleine spoke more clearly, stood taller and made eye contact. Madeleine has now made new friends and has learnt how to keep them.
Madeleine has learnt amazing life skills over the past two terms.
Melissa has been a fantastic, calm and caring role model in Madeleine’s life. Melissa has taught Madeleine the skills needed to enter high school next year.
Thank you so much for your wonderful program.
Each and every child should have the opportunity to Shine!

Carolyn, Rachel Homer’s mum, Albert Park Primary School

We are very grateful to you for creating the safe, supportive environment where Rachel could stand up and do the one thing that is so difficult for her – read in public. Last night, and indeed the whole shine program, has been a huge confidence building experience for Rachel and we are very grateful for the work you do.

Pauline O’Kane, mum of Scarlet, aged 11, St Joseph’s Elsternwick

Scarlet loves going to Shine each week. It is her favourite time of the week and she looks forward to it and loves to talk about it afterwards. I feel that she is learning so much in the reassuring, positive, safe environment you provide. Her father and I have been very pleased to observe her growing confidence and maturity. Thank you so much for your advice to Scarlet a few weeks ago when she was having trouble with a boy in the playground.  Sometimes all one needs is affirmation that you’re on the right path.

Scarlet is already saying how much she will miss Shine when she has finished, and she still has another Term to go! I think Justin and I will miss Shine too.

Isabella MacKrill, aged 11 years, Gardenvale PS

Isabella completed the entire curriculum (four terms/32 weeks). This was her graduation speech:

“When my mum first told me that I was coming to Shine, I didn’t want to come at all, I didn’t think the girls here would be kind but as soon I stepped into class, I was greeted with happiness and joy, I really felt at home. I’d like to thank my classmates for that, I really appreciated it.

I have learnt many skills that have helped me, and will help me in years to come such as…

Honesty – It’s a very important quality but so is… knowing when to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Self control – knowing when and when not to laugh

The value of general knowledge – To be a good leader is knowing what’s happening around you, it can help with things like small talk.

I have learnt how to stand up to bullies – which was the main reason for being here.

These are only 4 qualities that Miss Anderson has taught me. To list them all, would take all day.

I’d like to thank my parents for enrolling me into Shine. (I know I wasn’t very open to the idea but I’m glad you insisted.)

And, finally, I’d like to thank you Miss Anderson for helping me through some pretty tough times. A break up with a really close friend and the passing of my aunty. Your advice and support has given me the strength to deal with these issues. I’d also like to compliment you on your personal and professional presentation. You’ve been an inspiration to me and I’ll always remember you, thank you.

So for the very last time good evening and good night.

Inna, McKinnon SC parent

We would like to say a huge thanks for the positive change you brought to Naomi. I can definitely say that the courses made Naomi more confident, more self-respectful and the most important thing is that Naomi started looking at herself from the side and taking ownership of her actions. It was very sad to hear the graduating girls saying “for the last time good evening…” and if more courses for older kids/adults will be available, we would love for Naomi and Emily (our oldest daughter) to be able to attend these courses. I wouldn’t mind doing the course myself (:

AnujanaDolamulla, aged 12, Glen Waverley PS

Anujana delivered her final graduation speech off by heart.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is AnujanaDolamulla and I would like to start off this speech by thanking my parents and my sister for driving me to Shine every Tuesday night. Without them I would have never been able to get into the position I am here today.
Second of all I would like to thank Miss Anderson for teaching me the following four things:, how to handle being falsely accused of something, how important self love is, having proper etiquette in public and private places and How to find a diamond in the dumpster and a blessing in the bummer in any situation. This means finding the positive in any negative scenario.

Out of all these lessons the most powerful one, for me has been why self love is important to any person. Because of this, it has made me into the well rounded person I am today. To help us learn these skills we have played a wide variety of games in class. One of my all time favourite games was the self control one as it taught us when it was an appropriate time to politely giggle or not laugh at all. The knowledge I will take on for the rest of my life is that you have to accept who you are. In better words George R. R Martin once said ‘once you have accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you’.

Finally, I would like to thank my classmates behind me for making every shine lesson hilarious and interesting. The girls have made this experience very enjoyable and the atmosphere in the classroom every week could not have been any more exciting.

Even though I regret saying this, for the final time good evening and good night.”

Helen Radden, mother of Evie

Well, this really is the end of a wonderful road that Evie has been on with you. She has loved every minute of it and we can’t thank you enough for your insight, compassion and enthusiasm.

Jo and Dean Petch, parents of Emily Petch aged 12, Moorabbin Primary School, Victoria

“It has been a wonderful opportunity for Emily to have attended SHINE Academy where Melissa has identified the importance of teaching our girls the gift of emotional resilience which is sadly lacking in today’s society. The SHINE program has taught her the crucial elements of resilience and how her response and reactions can shape her personal development.

Throughout the program Melissa taught our daughter about developing winning attitudes, respect in responding, healthy self-esteem and self-knowledge and how to handle some of life’s toughest lessons. We have seen a newfound confidence and maturity in our daughter and this has been acknowledged by several of her teachers, both to her personally and to myself.

Her public speaking skills have flourished and she has become wiser and matured in her emotional self. She sees herself as an individual and her self-respect and ability to evaluate circumstances and rationalize her thinking gives us, as parents, peace of mind that she has the emotional skills to work through her teenage years. Thank you Melissa for producing such a rewarding program that is a wonderful foundation for life.”


Sienna Martino, aged 13 years, Loreto Toorak

Sienna completed the entire curriculum. This is her graduation speech:

Good evening Ladies and Gentleman,

Wow. I can’t believe it has been nearly a year since I started Shine. Time sure does fly. When I started my Shine journey nearly a year ago, I had no idea where it would take me. Now, I can confidently say I am so much more confident and proud of who I am today. Thank you Ms Anderson, for putting in so much depth, meaningfulness and time into every lesson you teach us. You are the most kind, wise person I know and you always care so much about me and my peers. On the subject of peers, I would like to thank my classmates for making me laugh and smile at nearly every opportunity and making Shine so much fun. I would also like to thank my parents for driving me to and from Shine every Tuesday and providing me with this wonderful opportunity to grow and learn.

One of the most powerful lessons I have been taught at Shine is to stop asking myself “why is this happening to me?” and start asking myself “what is this here to teach to teach me?” This is a more mentally healthy way of looking at situations, and you can truly learn something from nearly every scenario. Another extremely valuable lesson I have been taught is that worrying does absolutely nothing. The antidote to worrying is getting up and doing something.

My favourite game that was played at Shine was the True or False Game. As well as being fun, this game taught us general knowledge and facts about the world.

Shine has given me power. Power to say no, power to say thank you for the feedback, and the power to be myself.

Shine has taught and shown me so many valuable life lessons and knowledge I will take with me and remember for the rest of my life. So, for the final time, good evening and good night.

Abby, Lucy, Sherri and Michael VOGEL. Abby is in Grade 6 and attends Richmond PS

I would like you to know that we thank you so wholeheartedly and humbly for you are a part of what makes Abby’s heart sing. The bounce in her step as she enters and leaves Shine, provides joy and hope that as she enters high school she will find the bounce in her step there as well as her ‘tribe’ and will be valued as the kind hearted generous, enthusiastic girl that she is. We all need a bit of ‘polish and Shine’ and my girls know how lucky they are to have had the chance for you to impart your wisdom and to show them how to be their best selves. How many lives have you touched and made better for experiencing as Abby poetically put it, ‘a weekly dose of awesomeness”- you Melissa Anderson are a gift that keeps on giving.” With unmeasurable gratitude, we thank you and are thankful for you!


Mum from St James PS, Brighton

Mia has grown so much in the last year in her self esteem, her resolve and her ability to speak up and articulate her feelings and thoughts. She has grown a quiet confidence and we are so proud of her. We have no doubt that you and the wonderful Shine Program has played a big part in her development. You run the program with so much integrity and professionalism. Your program is like nothing else around and your teachings are more important now in the challenging world we live in than ever before. Mia will miss Shine and we will miss it too!

Nicole, 12, St Leonard’s College

“The first time I graduated from Shine Academy, nearly three years ago, I said that I was looking forward to re-joining when I was older. The time has flown, and it’s hard to believe I’ve completed the older course! It was interesting to revisit some of the concepts with a more “mature” mind; the games and role-plays are so much fun, and help us to practice social rules and bond with our peers. I’ve learned so much in my journey. I can easily identify, in a group of people, someone whose behaviour is not appropriate, or someone who would benefit so much from Ms Anderson’s wise advice… Growing up is not always easy, and we can encounter some challenging situations and difficult people in our lives. Shine prepares us for these situations, so we don’t panic if it happens, as we probably have already discussed something similar in our lessons. It feels like gaining life experience, in a safe and friendly environment. Thanks Ms Anderson for teaching me important life skills, such as resilience, appropriate behaviour, and tolerance. You surely make a difference in the world and change people’s lives. You have been an inspiration for me; I’m going to miss you, and all the fun I had in our lessons. I’m lucky for having had the chance to go to Shine Academy twice; I highly recommend it.”

Nicole, aged 9 years, St Leonards

In her graduation speech after completing all four terms, Miss Nicole Foley presented the following words:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I love coming to Shine every week. It’s a very friendly environment, and we are taught how to deal with difficult people and situations. We are shown videos of people who had lots of reasons to be unhappy but still managed to keep going and have a good life. We learn to look at the bright side, to be grateful, to be polite, and, definitely, not to be a doormat. Ms Anderson has given me lots of great advice, especially: saying your T’s, D’s, and K’s clearly, how to speak in a chest voice, and how to fog bullies.   I’d like to thank my parents for enrolling me into this program, and for adding me to the waiting list for the next age group. I’m looking forward to re-joining Shine Academy in the near future. I’d like to thank my peers, for being nice and caring.  I wish all the girls in the world could attend a program like this. The world would be a better place if everybody was nice.   I’d like to share my appreciation for Ms Anderson, an amazing and inspirational teacher. I’m going to miss Ms Anderson, my peers, the games, the role plays, and the treats.   I highly recommend Shine Academy to any girls.

Sienna, Age 12 Albert Park College

A couple of years ago I completed my first day of Shine 7 – 10 years with Miss Anderson and I must say I was nervous and shy at first but it was an incredible day and I loved it. After that day there was no chance I was going to leave. Graduating Shine leadership academy for girls was one of the most memorable moments of my life. The amount of support that Miss Anderson and my peers gave to me all through out my time at shine was phenomenal. In the seniors class, at the night of graduation, after I had given my speech I had a tremendous amount of sadness and happiness.  I had to say goodbye to a program that had shaped me for life in the best way possible. I hope other girls have the same incredible opportunity to attend shine academy for girls – it was the best experience of my life.

Kaylah, aged 14, St Leonards

When my parents first told me that they had enrolled me into Shine my initial thoughts were: I’m going to be stuck in a circle talking about my feelings, I was resistant at first and immediately thought all the negatives without considering the positives. Now, I think back and wonder what I would’ve done if I didn’t receive this opportunity. Throughout my life, I have been brought up to embrace new opportunities and give everything a go, this included Shine. Without Shine, I would not have realised how much room there was for me to grow and develop to become the confident, resilient person I am today.  I want to not only thank my parents but to thank all of you sitting and watching me, for enrolling your beautiful young women into Shine and giving them this life-changing opportunity. Because of this, I know for a fact that every parent’s duty is to invest in their child and give them the tools they need to better understand this complex world. Mum, dad, Nannie and Kyle, I thank you for supporting me and helping me be the best version of myself I can become.  Now, I would like to acknowledge the wonderful Miss Anderson, I thank you for creating this opportunity for the boys and girls out there to be able to embrace every part of them and helping them discover themselves. Furthermore, I thank you for helping not only me but also my classmates for helping us grow into people that our parents, friends and we are proud to be.

EllanaProunarou, aged 13, St Leonards

Reflecting on my journey with Shine brings so many happy memories. The skills that I have learnt will be with me for the rest of my life and for that I say a heartfelt “Thank you”.

Thank you to my parents for driving me to the Shine Institute every week and giving me the opportunity to grow in such a positive way.

I am eternally grateful to Miss Anderson for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to learn such amazing skills.

Some of my favourite learnings included how to be a “People Magnet” and “The Butterfly Effect”. As Gandhi said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

In a culture dominated by social media, bullying and poor self-image, the Shine Institute reinforced to me that I am beautiful and the importance of being kind, inclusive and to not be afraid to be an up stander.

I am now capable or identifying peer pressure and poor behaviour and have become a lot stronger and assertive in saying “no”.

I learnt how to behave in a job interview, how to dress appropriately and how to politely decline an invitation.

I learnt that “ums, ahs and ers” have no place in my language and I learnt the seven habits of emotionally healthy people.

My parents also learnt something too. They now know the difference between a Macaron and a Macaroon.

Last but not least I learnt to always hold my head high and look at the world straight in the eye. I am a beautiful person with the whole world ahead of me and no one can take that away from me.

Megan Foster, mum of Ella, aged 11, Stella Maris PS

I just wanted to drop you a note on last night. You were swamped at the end of the evening by lots of parents so felt it best to contact via email this morning. Obviously our first graduation session for Ella but what a tremendous achievement for the girls.

What you are providing for these young ladies is something quite extraordinary. The skills and lessons learned will stay with them forever.

Day in day out I witness behaviour at a very senior corporate level that reflects those very same issues the girls currently face at the age of 11-14 and the sad thing is a lot of these women are not equipped to cope. The mental and physical toll this behaviour has on them is extreme and often results in them leaving jobs and careers they love and have fought hard for.

We can’t change the behaviour of others but we can control how we deal with it and how it makes us feel.

As you so rightly teach, resilience and confidence are the key attributes that make a difference in not just our professional lives but our personal lives.

I was so proud of Ella last night but the most pride came from watching the two young ladies that struggled. Not because they struggled but because in the face of something so terrifying for them they held their composure and delivered.

To be fearless and to face those things that scare us most is something so very valuable. To be that LION instead of a sheep!

Thanks Melissa for making a difference in our daughter’s life.

Jo Gibbs, mother of Hannah, Elwood PS

After the end of term graduation ceremony Jo wrote:

Thank you, Melissa, for another wonderful evening of professionalism, discipline, integrity and spirit.
You certainly bring out some amazing qualities in the girls during the evening. I just loved the gorgeous shy one that said she is scared, sad to leave but happy. She was beautiful!

Amy Nedkoff, Sam and Stella Herman’s mum, Brighton Beach PS

Both Sam and Stella are absolutely loving their respective classes with you and I feel that both of them view that weekly time as a highlight of their week. Thank you again and we look forward to seeing their continued development as the term progresses. I simply cannot recommend your program highly enough to other parents, as for us, it provides that external reinforcement of core values that we see as being so fundamental to life.

Leeanne Jones, mother of Matisse, aged 12

One year ago, we presented you with a ‘diamond in the rough’ and a year on you have returned a bright sparkling diamond. The first time I spoke to you I asked if you could help Matisse learn to show her inner beauty and smile. We now have a daughter that can look people she knows and even ones she is meeting for the first time in the eye and smile, and it’s not just an ordinary smile with no warmth she smiles with her eyes, she shines bright. This is just one of the many, many amazing changes we have noticed in Matisse. I am now sure that she will enter high school next year with confidence, belief in herself and the tools she needs to handle any bumps in the road that may face her in the future. Jason and I thank you with all our heart for everything you have done for Matisse.

Amani Omarjee, Korowa

Here is an excerpt from a recent graduation speech after completing the four-term curriculum:

Compared to my 2020 self, I’ve learnt how to be such a better person, to stand up for myself, general knowledge you need to know, and the list goes on and on however to put it more simply I have become a confident version of myself. I remember walking into my first SHINE class, and as embarrassing as it is to say, I did get my mum to walk me in, I was very shy and nervous. And if I reflect back to the time, I’m sure I was thinking ‘what if they don’t like me? What if I’m not good or smart enough?’, however just like always they were just some doubting thoughts throwing me off. A perfect quote which has helped me through situations similar to these is one Miss Anderson has embedded into my mind which is ‘ take a spoonful of concrete and harden up.’ Nothing sums up ‘suck it up and just do it’ more than this.

Additionally with the powerful skills of public speaking and leadership I’ve learnt here at SHINE. I’ve been exposed to numerous leadership opportunities such as house captain, house representative, part of school council and being a class representative twice. With the experience from these cherished responsibilities, I’ve learnt how to be a leader and not only telling people what to do however to also including them into the process which results in a combined effort, team response.

I strive to be the best version of myself and live by this mantra encouraged by Miss Anderson, I am inclusive, I assume positive intent and I do not gossip. With the mantra, I have become more positive, open minded and non-judgmental. And to remind myself of this important phrase I actually have a printed-out piece of paper with it on my desk, and when I’m studying, relaxing, doing school or zoom calls I see it and it reminds me to be kinder to myself and those around me.

I am so grateful for all the lessons in which Miss Anderson has taught us about politely declining invitations, expressing our feelings, how to make small talk, how to keep a conversation not awkward, deliver a well-presented speech, apologizing and professionally confronting people. All of which have especially served me well throughout my high school life, and have given me the self-confidence to approach strangers, teachers and friends about topics which concern me. It’s amazing how much of a difference knowing how to start sometimes hard conversations with people and keep them going, can make to a person’s self-esteem. Simply knowing those skills are what I believe is the main difference between me now to before SHINE, how I’m much more confident talking and raising difficult chats with peer or friends has led me to become assertive and self-assured.

For the final time, good evening and good Night.