If you google ‘retreat’ there are a number of definitions and I know our Year 12s were not too sure what to expect before their recent time away. Three days at Rutherford Park for our Year 12s provided the idyllic location for this time and space in their year. I was fortunate enough to join the Year 12s and staff for the first day and night and noted their commitment to engage fully in the time and activities provided. Many of them have shared how valuable they found the time away. The retreat provided experiences of ritual, reflection, liturgy, inspiration, story, fun and connection. It was also a time for memory making.
What we know about wonder is that it can be experienced in the recalling of memories. So often now we use our phones to try and capture those moments or memories but often they never seem the same. The night of the recent super ‘pink’ moon I was travelling back across Port Phillip Bay on the ferry after a day of meetings in Melbourne. It was truly amazing. I tried to take a photo to share with the family but it just didn’t capture the moment even though it will be one that I will always remember. I think this is the essence of mystery. Mystery tells us there is more than meets the eye, things that as humans we cannot put words around.
The gospels of the Easter season are full of encounters that are moments of wonder or mystery or times when those around Jesus were called to question. I know that there will be memories and emotions from our retreat that couldn’t be captured in a photo. For me, it was when one of the Year 12s brought me a cross to add to my touchstone collage and said, ‘Here Mrs Quinn I know your faith is important to you’. My prayer is that our Year 12s take this experience of communion with each other into the weeks before them as a source of nourishment and inspiration.
In ‘eXcel: Wellbeing for learning in Catholic schools, the importance of partnership and relationships with families is integral to all four interdependent elements – Engage, Enable, Connect and Learn. eXcel states:
- Relationships with families are actively fostered and sustained to support students to thrive in learning and life.
- Families and teachers are mentors and partners in their children’s learning journey
- Families, teachers and other significant adults play complementary roles that contribute to the spiritual, emotional, social and cognitive development of the whole child.
Over the next few weeks, these elements of the framework will be critical as our students begin their subject selection process for 2022. It can be both exciting and daunting and the guidance of families and teachers is crucial at this time. Over 300 people came along on Monday night to our annual subject expo and senior pathways information sessions. There was a great buzz in the Brigidine Centre as current Year 12 students shared their passions and experiences with our younger students and their families. For me, there were moments of joy as I listened in on students sharing their interest in the wonder of astrophysics, their increased confidence in Mathematics or their love of the world of literature or art. To support our students at this time we encourage them to access the resources and people available to them so they can make the most informed decision possible. This is one way we can be building a ‘well community’ by investing in the conversations that help our students shape their future pathways based on their strengths, dreams and passions.
Before the end of Term, our Year 7 and 8 families and their daughters will again have an opportunity to reconnect with their Wellbeing teachers as part of our ‘connection conversations’ which are held each term. I strongly encourage all families to engage with this process as part of our ongoing commitment to build learning partnerships.
Thank you also to our mums, nannas, aunties and other ‘mother’ figures who joined with us for our Mother’s Day breakfast today. We know we were a week later than usual however we have been navigating a very crowded calendar. Linked to our theme of wonder we asked the students what was ‘wonderful’ about their mums and these were some of the things they shared….
My mum is the best person as she cares and supports me no matter what. She is such a strong woman with determination.
She sacrifices so much for me.
Thank you for everything you do for everyone around you, Your work doesn’t go unnoticed.
Mum – I love you and I’m sorry that I don’t say it often enough. I have always looked up to you and admire everything you do.
The Brown Collective
Twenty-two of our College staff leaders completed the third day of the Leading from Within Program this week. This has been a significant investment by the College in the leadership development of our staff. Dr Stephen Brown and Ann Sexton facilitated the program which focused on building their skills and capacities as middle leaders. This included understanding personal values and purpose, leading teams, understanding change, having challenging conversations and sustaining ourselves as leaders. Each leader is undertaking a leadership challenge connected to their daily work in the College. Each of these projects is connected to our School Improvement Plan and Annual Action Plan and will add great value to the College. I am grateful to all our leaders for the tireless work they undertake to support both the everyday operations of the College and our improvement initiatives. Next week we will host an aspiring leader’s dinner for staff from across the five Geelong Catholic secondary schools. We look forward to supporting our future leaders with this networking opportunity.
Hurst Reserve – Partnership with City of Greater Geelong
Alongside our master planning work, we have been engaging with the City of Greater Geelong to establish a partnership in relation to the Hurst Reserve courts. This collaboration sees our College work with the City of Greater Geelong to provide resurfacing and other improvements to the courts and in return, our College will have exclusive access to the courts during school hours for our students to use for PE, sport and lunchtime activities. This collaboration sees benefits for both our College and the community at large, with various sporting groups and the wider community being able to enjoy the use of improved facilities after school and on weekends. We are most grateful to the City of Greater Geelong for their support and co-operation during this project. Our agreement for the court usage will be in place for at least the next 10 years. This will be an amazing resource that we can add to our facilities and will include three full-size courts with the ability to play Netball, Futsal (Soccer) and Basketball. We are hopeful that the courts will be ready for use early in Term 3.