The extent of teachers’ work has often gone unnoticed. However, in the last 12 months, they have been our heroes in ensuring learning continuity for students all around the world during the global pandemic. This was only made possible because of the collective and collaborative effort of teachers who are driven by a moral purpose to make a difference in the lives of their students. Today, Australian communities mark World Teachers’ Day. In a faith community, the task of the teacher is more than the imparting of knowledge. It has a sacred responsibility because of our recognition of the human person as made in the image and likeness of God. That responsibility extends to our mission as educators that all may come to know God’s promise of the ‘good news’ of liberation and that all may have life and have it to the full. Pope Francis captured this beautifully in an address to students in Rome earlier this year. He said:
‘Educating is not a job but an attitude. It is a way of being. To educate well, we need to step out of ourselves and be among young people, to accompany them in the stages of their growth, placing ourselves at their side. Give them hope, and confidence for their journey in the world. Teach them to see the beauty and the goodness of creation and of humanity, which always retains the imprint of the Creator. Most importantly, be witnesses with your lives.’
We thank our teachers for all they do, every day, in big and small ways. They are an inspiration.
Our return to school
There was a sense of calm and anticipation on Wednesday morning, followed by relief and positivity three hours later, as our VCE exams got underway with the English exam. Exams will continue for the next three weeks concluding on November 17. We encourage our students to continue the commitment to their preparation for these exams and to do their best knowing they will reap the rewards of their efforts.
The buzz of conversation around learning and connecting with friends has filled our grounds over the past week as all students returned to onsite learning. Many classes have embraced the spring weather to conduct learning outside. Chalk maths has covered the paths, dissections have taken place in Science, the sounds of instruments again fill the gardens and active students have utilised our new courts at Hurst Reserve.
We recognize that it may take a little while for students to return to routine and the expectations of onsite learning. We ask that parents support us by helping students to prioritise attendance, be on time for class and check appropriate uniform and grooming before they leave home. We also remind parents of the expectations around signing out procedures which are outlined in Student Diaries. Students are to report to the office where contact can be made with parents if they need to leave the College during school grounds rather than students contacting parents directly.
Throughout Term 4 our Year 7 and 8 Humanities Teams have continued to progress with our exploration of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning. I was fortunate to be present in a Year 7 class last week where they were fully engrossed in preparing to share their learning from their current water unit which had been redesigned with student input and the New Pedagogies framework. Staff are also trialing the New Metrics materials for assessing ‘character’ as a complex competency. The new Metrics two-year partnership with the University of Melbourne is actively responding to the need for more holistic measures of student success to complement current measures such as the ATAR. These are the skills and competencies that we know our young people need to succeed, especially in the world beyond school, the world of employment, further education and training. We are fortunate to be at the forefront of this national research to find a mechanism that hopes to achieve a rigorous and recognized framework for measurement in these competencies.
From Monday we have some new settings for schools. Students and staff are no longer required to wear face masks whilst outdoors however they are still required indoors. A number of school activities can resume and we are delighted to be planning to hold our Year 12 Graduation onsite later this month in line with current requirements. It is a requirement for visitors to the College attending meetings or events to be fully vaccinated and check-in via our QR code. The vaccination status needs to be sighted on arrival as is the case in many settings across our community.
We are fully aware that there are still a number of cases of COVID-19 in our community and these continue to impact schools. Late last week we received updated guidelines on the management of a positive case onsite. It is important for families to note that if we have a case that impacts on our students, we will be asking about student vaccination status as part of the contract tracing process.
The College will be closed on Monday as a Pupil Free Day. This day is taken for staff to attend to the multiple online training requirements as part of our compliance program. These online training modules include areas such as Student Duty of Care, Mandatory Reporting, Privacy, Modern Slavery, Anaphylaxis and Asthma and Child Safety to name a few.
Today we farewell Payal Tangri whose contract has concluded with us and wish her every blessing as she commences in a new setting from Monday. We thank her for sharing her love of mathematics with our students. Ian Callahan will return to take these classes until the end of the academic year.
We also farewell Natalie Stephenson, who earlier in the year was appointed to the Deputy Principalship at Mercy College Camperdown. Natalie commences this exciting new step in her career before the end of the year to support her transition in this new role. We are most grateful to Natalie for her service and contribution to learning leadership in her time at the College. Kate Rigby will cover Natalie’s classes until the end of the year.
Whilst we are always sad to farewell staff, we have been able to appoint wonderful new staff to our team for 2022 and I look forward to introducing them to you as we approach the end of the year.
My thoughts and blessings particularly extend to those in our community reconnecting with loved ones this extended weekend after lockdowns have kept so many of us apart. Stay safe especially if travelling and enjoy every moment.