Wednesday 20 March 2019
The last few weeks have involved much enrichment for St Mary’s College students. There have been swimming carnivals, camps and excursions, retreats and liturgies.
I know some parents and carers get anxious about time spent out of the classroom. If this is you, I would like to assure you that co-curricular activities have a significant role to play in education.
As a Catholic school, we are committed to the education of the whole person, including intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional development. If you consider why you originally chose St Mary’s College, it probably had something to do with that holistic education.
There is much research to say that if students feel like they belong and are connected to school they are better placed to learn. This rings true using our common sense. We could probably say the same things about our workplaces.
In my experience working with senior secondary students for over 20 years, there is a significant pattern to the students who do the best ‘academically’. They are more often than not, highly engaged in the life of the school as well as committed to their personal study.
Co-curricular activities build relationships between staff and students, and this is also a factor in positive educational outcomes. Having a common experience to discuss, or shared experiences to draw from in teaching, augers well for success.
I noticed on the day of the Big Splash, we had double the absenteeism we normally would. Undervaluing these experiences is really working against students thriving academically, socially and emotionally. If you have the opportunity to support your child attending an co-curricular event, you are supporting them to do well, even if they are stressed in the short term about an assignment that is due in.
As a College we don’t take decisions to suspend classes for other activities lightly. Hopefully you will see the importance of the life of the College and not even entertain the idea that your daughter or son might stay at home and miss an activity.
Thank you to all the parents, carers, alumni and extended family who have been volunteering at St Mary’s so far this year. We are blessed to have such a strong community. We are looking for a new member to replace the irreplaceable Stacey Pennicott. Stacey, who has been Deputy Chair the last 12 months, is finishing up.
Thanks Stacey, for everything you have done for the College through your work with the Board. If you are interested in contributing through the College Board, please send me an expression of interest. Last time we called for applications we were overwhelmed by such high-quality candidates. I am sure it will be the same this time.
A prayer for living the Gospel
God of yesterday, today and tomorrow,
we call to mind your presence within us and around us.
Open our ears that we may hear your Word.
Open our hearts that we may understand your Word.
Open our mouths that we may speak your World.
Inspire us with the Gospel message,
that we may celebrate all that is life-giving,
restore hope where it has been lost,
and work to bring about change where it is needed.
May we live the Gospel with courage,
constancy and love.
May we be open to the challenge
of your call to true freedom.
May we be faithful to you in our daily choices
May we make your love known
through our words and actions.
May the triune God reign in our hearts, now and forever.
Wednesday 6 March 2019
I wrote recently to parents and carers about traffic concerns. There has been some improvement, but there are still alarm-raising manoeuvres happening. I know some schools have their staff ‘police’ pick-up and drop-off; I believe, however, it is parents and carers’ responsibility to behave safely without school staff invigilating.
Secondly, since I wrote, K&D have complained about families using their carpark as a pick-up and drop-off place, with students lining up awaiting pick-up. K&D have quite reasonably expressed their concern for safety of our students. I said I would write to our community to ask them to refrain from using the K&D carpark for anything other than shopping at K&D.
Thirdly, parking inspectors have been taking an increasing interest in the five-minute parking along Brisbane Street. Please, as a community, can we do what is needed to ensure the safety of our children and be respectful to each other and our neighbours. Thanks again to the parents and carers who are doing, and always do, the right thing.
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of the Season of Lent, observed in the Christian Church all over the world. It marks 40 days until Easter. At ceremonies today, students and staff were marked with the sign of the cross in ashes, created from the palms burnt last year on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. It is an ancient tradition and reminds us that we are made by God, and that we are imperfect, and still loved by God.
Our Catholic tradition focuses on prayer, alms-giving and fasting during the season. As we seem to have been living with bushfires for months now, this symbolism is strong for us; after the fire, new growth emerges. Lent is a time for growth. In our society, many people choose to fast from technology rather than food during this time. Ultimately, though, the point is about growth, rather than self-denial for its own sake.
Wednesday 20 February 2019
I can think of three reasons it is important to come to school information evenings and learning conferences.
The first one is that it is an implicit message to your son or daughter, that school is important. It shows them you are sacrificing your precious time to invest in their main ‘occupation’. It doesn’t matter to them that they’re not your first child through St Mary’s and you’ve probably ‘heard it all before’. Presumably this message will promote a stronger investment in school from your son or daughter.
The second reason is that there is conclusive research that a strong home-school partnership has a notable positive impact on student learning. A partnership needs to be lived out; it is more like a contract or an arrangement if we don’t get together face-to-face and know each other.
The third reason is because we feel like we have important things to say! Equally, we have important things to hear from you; your perspective on your son or daughter often gives us insights into their learning or behaviour. It really does make a difference to teachers as to whether or not you are there.
I hope you can get to our parent evenings and learning conferences this year.
The introduction of the new Mobile Phone Policy in the Senior School appears to be going well. I would cautiously suggest that students even have a sense of relief to be freed from the compulsion to check their phones for most of the day. Thanks to parents and carers for their support of this policy.
We have set up an email system through SEQTA Engage which will let you know if your daughter has breached the policy, and will inform you as to what the consequence will be. Hopefully this way you feel empowered to have the conversations at home as needed.
You are the giver of all we possess,
the source of all of our blessings.
We thank and praise you.
Thank you for the gift of our children.
Help us to set boundaries for them,
and yet encourage them to explore.
Give us the strength and courage to treat
each day as a fresh start.
May your Spirit help them to grow
in faith, hope, and love,
so they may know peace, truth, and goodness.
Wednesday 6 February 2019
On Monday we took delight in welcoming half of our Kinder students, our new Year 7 students, Year 11s, and all students new to the Senior School. There was a great sense of anticipation, and some nerves, as you would expect. It is such a privilege witnessing these milestones in education for our children and young people. I welcome new families to St Mary’s College, and know that our community welcomes you too.
I will keep my writing brief, as I will be sending Term letters home later in the week. I hope that 2019, our 151st year, is a happy, challenging and rewarding year for our children and young people in their education and development.
Beginnings often frighten us because they seem like
Lonely voyages into the unknown.
Yet, in truth, no beginning is empty or isolated.
We seem to think that beginning is setting out from
a lonely point along some line of direction into the unknown.
This is not the case.
Shelter and energy come alive when a beginning is embraced.
A beginning is ultimately an invitation
to open toward the gifts of growth and are stored up for us.
To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect.
When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning,
unforeseen things can emerge.
And in a sense, this is exactly what a beginning does.
It is an opening for surprises.
Surrounding the intention and the act of beginning,
there are always exciting possibilities.
Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen;
They are not regressions or repetitions.
Somehow they win clearance and become fiercely free of the grip of the past.
What is the new horizon in you that wants to be seen?
Wednesday 12 December 2018
We have had a joyful ending to our year, with Masses, concerts and picnics! We have had many celebrations this year as we rejoice in our 150 years. I’m mindful, too, it has been a year of sadness for many.
Thank you to St Mary’s Staff who go one pace beyond every day. They are so committed to serving the children and young people of our College. Thanks to families for your trust in us each day and to the commitment you have made to the College. Thanks too, to the many who have moved on from St Mary’s – staff or students, who continue to be strong advocates for us and form such a pivotal role in our community.
In the yearbook you will have read that Gianna Staples is retiring this year. Gianna’s faith, commitment and leadership have made her a mainstay of the College. While we will miss her in the day-to-day happenings of St Mary’s College, I know she will not be lost to us. Thank you, Gianna, for all you have given over your years of service as a dedicated and inspiring teacher.
Wednesday 28 November 2018
This week marks our last week for Year 10s. They have had their first taste of exams and survived! And in the Junior School, all eyes are on swimming and getting ready for end of year concerts. It certainly is busy! You’ve probably also noticed your son or daughter is tired with all that is happening at school. We are counting the days till the holidays! That said, it is often this time of year where curios learning happens and enrichment deepens previous learnings.
For all in the Senior School, we celebrate our end of year in The Tasman Room, noting endeavour and success throughout the year. This year I have invited a guest speaker – Lisa Forster. Lisa is a highly successful young business woman who oozes positivity. I am sure she will enhance our evening.
There is one more edition of The Fountain beyond this one, but I will take this opportunity to thank families for their ongoing support of our College and community. It has been a year of both deep sadness and celebration. I feel very blessed that we have such a strong community who has ridden the roller coaster together.
For the families who are finishing up with St Mary’s College at the end of the year – thank you for being a part of our community. For our boys moving to St Virgil’s, especially, we wish them well. We will proudly claim them as alumni.
Venerable Nano Nagle Pray for us.
Wednesday 14 November 2018
At an assembly this week, I felt compelled to discuss Christmas!
Advent doesn’t start until the December 2 this year, but the onslaught of ‘Chrismas-ific’ is everywhere in the shops. I reminded students that Christmas is about the coming of Christ the child. I suggested we should all have something in place every Christmas where we do something or give something to make life better for people who don’t share our fortune.
I probably wasn’t clear enough with the students that this shouldn’t come out of mum’s or dad’s pocket, but their own. You might like to follow up with some suggestions.
At an assembly this week, I felt compelled to discuss Christmas!
Advent doesn’t start until the December 2 this year, but the onslaught of ‘Chrismas-ific’ is everywhere in the shops.
Wednesday 31 October 2018
Last night we celebrated our Graduation Mass with Year 12. Before we went in, I told the group how lucky they were to be part of a cohort who knew each other so well and who were also part of a great tradition.
Following a beautiful Mass, the latest artwork for the 150th was unveiled on the facade of the Convent building; a video installation celebrating our past and heralding our future.
We had a sumptuous supper in the staff room – perhaps a bit small for the occasion, but it was definitely celebratory! And so begins the beginning of the end of the year.
A beautiful part of the graduation tradition is the staff singing a blessing to Year 12. We will continue to pray for our leavers over the coming weeks.
Wednesday 17 October 2018
You would be hard done by not to know the Grand Bazaar is on this weekend. This celebration recognises our 150-year history, as well as the life of our current College community. Thanks in anticipation to all families and staff who have made preparations. If you haven’t been to one before, you won’t be disappointed – there is something for everyone. See you there!
Term 4 is a busy term for the College. With swimming lessons, graduations, picnics, exams and prize-givings, we will surely be worn out by its end. Despite its liveliness, in classrooms teachers are focusing on curriculum and ensuring students get the outcomes of which they are capable. It is important for the older students to maintain a homework routine, and every student should be reading outside of school each day.
Oscar Romero was made a saint over the weekend. He was a great man, who in the 1970s was called to lead the Catholic Church in El Salvador. When many were silent, Romero stood and proclaimed freedom, human rights and stood up to the political turbulence that was denigrating human life. These inspiring words are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him…
In memory of Saint Oscar Romero (1917–1980)
A Future Not Our Own
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realising this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
God bless us as we go about building the Reign of God this term.
Thursday 27 September 2018
I have the fortune of writing this short introduction for our last newsletter before the school holidays in Fuzhou, China. Fuzhou just happens to be the ‘city with good luck’ and Hobart’s sister city.
Last year, students from the No.18 Middle School in Fuzhou visited Tasmania and stayed with families from our College. Now the cultural exchange is being reciprocated and our girls have been welcomed into Fuzhou families. There are more than 4,000 students at the No. 18 Middle School and today, they will share a holiday to celebrate the Autumn Festival. We will visit the school on Tuesday and I can’t wait to see how the teachers manage the tuck shop line. It will be interesting to ask our students what they felt they got out of the trip. I’m sure the answers will be as individual as are all these wonderful young people.
With only a few days before the end of term 3, the staff and students look forward to school holidays. Although most parents and carers will still be working, I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday, a time to get out in the garden to celebrate spring and all the joy that it brings.
Thank you to the St Mary’s College community, students, staff and parents, for all the hard work, support and participation that contributed to a very busy and successful Term 3.
We celebrate spring’s returning and the rejuvenation of the natural world.
Help us to understand our place within this miracle.
Let us see that as a bird now builds its nest, Bravely, with bits and
pieces, So we must build to nurture human faith.
Wednesday 12 September 2018
This week our whole school assembly in the Nagle Centre focused on resilience. For many, the highlight of the assembly was the presentation by Year 2 Wombats. Class teacher, Ms Anabel Shearing produced a video of the students describing how they show resilience in their everyday lives. A shared song, led by the Wombats, then followed.
It was a lovely assembly with a montage of songs from Beauty and the Beast and presentations for student achievements. I must make mention of two students who participated in ‘The 30 Second Challenge’. For the challenge, students are invited on the spot to talk for 30 seconds without preparation on a given topic. They can speak longer if able. Participation in the challenge requires daring and shear guts!
The two students to take up the challenge were Bethany Creese (Year 7 Manresa 3) and Georgia Blanton (Year 6 Banksia). Bethany’s topic was ‘students should not have mobile phones at school’ and Olivia’s was ‘St Mary’s College should have a school dog’. Both girls spoke longer than 30 seconds and delighted everyone with their ideas and bravery. Wonderful examples of student resilience!
Thank you for the challenges in life that help to build OUR strength.
Thank you for the times when OUR lack of resources reminds US of the value of resourcefulness.
Thank you for the mysterious people who confound, frustrate and annoy US, teaching US patience and the art of forgiveness.
Thank you for the moments when WE are in desperate need of a miracle, and at the very last moment, from an unexpected source, one arrives.
Thank you for the difficult path that only WE can walk, the challenging problems that you have prepared for US to solve and the purpose that you have for OUR lives.
Thank you for the moments of courage that you give US so that WE can live a life of meaning, not comfort.
Thank you for the moments when WE are aware of OUR shortcomings, not so that WE can wallow in sadness, but so that WE can tap into your grace and mercy.
Thank you for sending angels to wrestle with US, building OUR resilience and teaching US to hold on to what is good.
WE pray that you would give US strong ankles for the times when WE walk on rocky ground.
WE pray that you would give US strong hearts to keep OUR spirits strong.
And WE pray that even in the darkest night, WE will be looking to the light that’s coming.
WE pray for resilience, love and compassion.
WE ask this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen
Wednesday 29 August 2018
What is the best book that you have read lately?
Last week we celebrated Book Week with a variety of activities, highlighted by another wonderful parade of book characters. A lot of effort obviously went into the planning and making of costumes, all for the delight of students and all so very worthwhile. Visit our online gallery to view photos from the day.
What was your favourite book as a child? Was it Charlotte’s Web, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or was it James and the Giant Peach?
Our days can be so busy and finding time to read a good book has to be one of life’s many joys. Reading to our children and grandchildren is, of course, also important.
There are many great children’s books to read and there are so many good reasons to read to our children, but one of the best must surely and simply be because it’s time that is spent together.
I hope you all have the opportunity to read to your beautiful children – perhaps the book that was your own favourite.
SMC Student Resource Centre – statistics and fun facts
Loans, so far, for 2018: 14,685 for K-12.
In the Junior School, the following number of books have been borrowed: 3,810 fiction, 2,473 non-fiction, 3,299 picture books.
The most borrowed title in the Junior School: Spooky House by Sally Rippin.
The most popular books borrowed in the Senior School: First and Then by Emma Mills, This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills, Then by Morris Gleitzman.
The most popular genre in the Senior School: Crime, thriller and mystery.
Wednesday 15 August 2018
St Mary’s College last week hosted the Nagle Education Alliance of Australian Student Leadership Conference. It was a successful event with 13 Presentation schools from around the nation in attendance. Although supported by a great team, the planning was undertaken by our Director of Identity and Mission, Andrew Clarke, and to be frank, he’s exhausted. Happily exhausted! To be successful, an event of this nature requires a lot of organisation. It doesn’t just happen. The result was outstanding. I would like to congratulate Mr Clarke and his team on providing the opportunity for the students involved to share ideas, interact and pray.
Last week the College’s Science Coordinator, Heather Omant and the Science team promoted Science Week with many engaging activities. This week our Arts Department, under the direction of SMC’s Director of Music, Scott Weston and Senior Drama teacher, Leah Smith, will also showcase student talent, with performances at The Playhouse Theatre of Beauty and the Beast. There will also be fire safety programs, visits to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, participation in the Festival of Bright Ideas, the Titration Competition, Aboriginal education programs and more.
St Mary’s is always a busy place and departments are always on the go. I thank our dedicated staff, including our office and maintenance staff, who together aim to make the learning experiences of our students meaningful, rewarding and memorable. It is all part and parcel of wholistic education, an education in which ‘each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace’. Like Mr Clarke, I hope that if other staff are exhausted too, that it’s happy exhaustion due to the satisfaction of knowing that they and their achievements in the name of student learning are appreciated.
Wednesday 1 August 2018
It has been a very sad return to school as we have mourned the loss of Sarah Beltz. Year 10 has come together and supported each other admirably. I am very proud of them, and of Manresa 5, Sarah’s Homeroom. There are no words that are adequate. We have cried, we have laughed, we have remembered and we have prayed. Grief and loss aren’t over quickly, so I think it will take a great deal of time to be able to come to terms with what has happened.
Sarah was a great horsewoman. You would have seen her image in previous newsletters as she won many titles. From a very young age she had a great affinity with horses. Tom Dorey, former principal, remembers when Sarah was in Prep, her telling him that horses were beautiful and majestic animals. By all accounts, Sarah was incredibly humble about her achievements, which were considered significant.
The other stories that have emerged about Sarah tell of a very caring and including person. Many students have stories of how Sarah reached out to them and made them feel a part of it, welcome and included. It’s been said a number of times that Sarah hated school. She certainly didn’t hate her school mates. And her school mates and her teachers loved her and grieve her loss.
We will continue to pray for Sarah, her family, her friends and our community.
Our Loving God,
You see our sadness
You know the burden of grief
that we feel at the loss of Sarah.
As we mourn her death
help us find comfort knowing
that Sarah is with you in Your loving embrace.
Help us also to see Your love in our lives.
Ride high, Sarah.
Eternal rest grant unto her, Oh Lord
And may perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
Venerable Nano Nagle,
Pray for us.
Wednesday 27 June 2018
The model of schooling we work in was originally designed to support the rise of industry in the late 19th century. A need to provide educated workers for factories and industry spawned classrooms with specific ages learning individual subjects from specialist teachers. While educators have been saying for a long time that we need new models for a contemporary world (some call it ‘21st century learning’), we remain locked into a regime of external exams to determine university admission and all things leading to that point to ready students who wish to pursue further education for such learning. The 50-year-old HSC exams of New South Wales and its derivatives, and the content-dense Australian curriculum, keep us entrenched in this model.
There are signals of change afoot. No doubt, they will take some time to catch up to the national education agenda, but change is coming. The latest report, colloquially called ‘Gonski 2.0’, is a ‘blue sky-thinking’ approach to how education could and should be. It’s an exciting time in education and students are getting the benefits of a broadening approach to curriculum and evidence-based teaching practice.
St Mary’s teachers are currently in the swing of such practice, opening up their teaching to peer feedback and student voice. The St Mary’s staff are working very hard to be the best teachers they can possibly be and evidence says that teacher quality has the biggest effect on student learning within all possible school factors. I’m very proud of the teachers at St Mary’s and their constant efforts to be even better.
Wednesday 13 June 2018
St Mary’s College has a hidden treasure in the Languages department. In a context where languages are dropping in many schools across Australia, ours are thriving! Our students are now studying Chinese from Prep to Year 8, Italian in Year 7 and 8, and many elect to continue with either or both languages right up to Year 12.
We have sister schools in Italy in Assisi, Trento and Riva del Garda. We have a new sister school in Fuzhou, China, a school our 2018 tour group will be visiting on the China trip. We also have a continuing reciprocal home stay arrangement with Yaizu in Japan. We have Italian and Japanese students and teachers visit us, and we will welcome Chinese visitors in the near future.
The path to global citizenship
Our staff have also been part of the ASEAN Bridge exchanges, hosting Singaporean staff and visiting them and their schools in Singapore. Throughout this program, there is a real sense that our students are global citizens and that they have global responsibilities. Intercultural Understanding, Ethical Understanding and Personal and Social Capability are three general capabilities from the Australian Curriculum that are enhanced through the Languages Cultural Program. Thank you, Languages teachers, for enriching our College!
Stay safe online
This week is Cyber Safety Week. Parents should be alert to an online game called ‘Fortnite’. According to reports, it is violent and highly addictive.
Celebrating our shared future
It’s National Refugee Week from June 17-23. The general capabilities listed above position students to be welcoming, inclusive and open. The Catholic perspective comes directly from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (25:35): ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’.
The Church has a very positive history of 100 years of Catholic social teaching on the issue of migration and asylum. Pope Francis said:
‘Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion – ‘suffering with’ others: the globalisation of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep!’
Source: http://www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au/publications/ten-step-leaflets/827-ten-steps-towards-justice-for-refugees-and-asylum-seekers (Pope Francis at Lampedusa)
God of all creation
You have given us the beautiful land we call Australia.
Rich in ancient culture and tradition,
Rich in landscape, plants and animal life;
Rich in resources, laws and social structure,
Offering safety and opportunity…
Give us clear eyes to see the whole world
So that we may never take for granted the gifts you have given
Or think they belong to us alone.
Give us open hearts to reach out from our comfort
and open our gates
To walk in new solidarity with our neighbours.
Wednesday 30 May 2018
Winter is coming…
With the coming of winter and the shortening of days, it is even more important for us to be mindful of our own health and the health of our families. Making some time to get organised to put in place all the things we know we should be doing is an essential element for weekends, especially at this time of year.
As children move into adolescence, it is important to encourage them to maintain exercise, be mindful of healthy eating and consider vitamin D. Sleep is something that also varies in this growing phase. Headspace has a good factsheet on it, which can be accessed online here.
I’m sharing a prayer that the Presentations Sisters are praying. It shows what inspiring women of faith they are!
You are luring us unto a future more
expansive than our minds can conceive.
Grace us and make space in the womb of
our hearts for the possibilities you offer us.
Unsettle us! Disturb us!
Move us to the edge of new horizons
that we may be open as you come to
us in our sisters and brothers
and the cry of our earth.
May wisdom’s flame shine for us,
within us and from us –
our feet know the way;
our hearts carry the light.
Wednesday 16 May 2018
The rains have had a big impact on us as part of the wider Hobart community. There are many stories among us about flood damage and some scary moments. We are lucky there was no tragic loss of life. I’m appreciative of the way our St Mary’s community handled the situation and the supportive stance of the parent community. I hope the impact on you was not too great. If it has created financial hardship for you, please get in touch and we can make an arrangement to assist regarding school costs.
150th birthday celebrations
Last week we celebrated our 150th birthday at Government House, St Mary’s Cathedral and the Grand Chancellor Federation Ballroom. A large team of more than 30 staff, parents and alumni worked doggedly to ensure the events were highly successful and great fun.
Thank you to this team, particularly the leadership of Chris Ryan, Jo Messer and Melissa McLeod, and the wisdom of Tom Dorey who instigated the 150th Committee four years ago.
Challenging learning with James Nottingham
On Friday staff are welcoming visionary educator, James Nottingham from the United Kingdom. I’ve googled and found the following on James, so I can give you a snapshot of who he is!
‘Before training to be a teacher, James worked on a pig farm, in the chemical industry, for the American Red Cross, and as a teaching assistant in a school for deaf children. At university, he gained a first-class honours degree in education (a major turnaround after having failed miserably at school). He then worked as a teacher and leader in primary and secondary schools in the UK before co-founding an award-winning, multi-million-pound regeneration project supporting education, public and voluntary organisations across north east England. As well as headlining significant national and international conferences himself, James often presents alongside Carol Dweck (Mindset) and John Hattie (Visible Learning). Skolvärlden (Swedish Teaching Union) describes James as “one of the most talked about names in the world of school development” and the Observer newspaper in the UK listed him among the Future 500 – a “definitive list of the UK’s most forward-thinking and brightest innovators”.’
It is quite a coup that James accepted our invitation to work with us. James’ presence is a significant step in us becoming the best educators in Australia! And we are heading that way all in the interests of your sons and daughters.
Thank you to our P&F
Thanks to the dads on the Parents and Friends Committee who cooked up such a lovely breakfast for Mother’s Day. Thanks to all who came and to the Kinder mums who came in for the Kinder Mother’s Day. We wish our Year 12 mothers well for their Mother’s Day Breakfast tomorrow.
A blessing for mothers…
Wednesday 2 May 2018
Welcome to the new families of St Mary’s College. I hope your child’s journey with us is rich, engaging, challenging and rewarding!
We also welcome the following new staff to our College this term, some of whom are on contracts and others ongoing, as well as some staff changes:
Lora Warman, replacing Gianna Staples while Gianna is on leave; Tanya McLachlan-Troup, our new Senior School Art Technician; Steve Burdon, Junior School Music Teacher for Term 2 (April 30, 2018 to July 6, 2018) – replacing Mary Heferen-Faulkner, and Carolyn Scott-Burgess appointed to the Senior School Teacher Assistant position (May 21, 2018 to December 11, 2018). Carolyn will take up her new position when Jen Crowden returns from leave. Jade Rossiter is replacing Kate Lakos as HPE Teacher until May 25, 2018. Jo Leamey is transferring to the role of General Teacher Assistant, Junior School (previously Learning Support Teacher Assistant, Junior School).
As we move into Term 2 we continue to celebrate our 150th birthday! For some of us it will be a busy few weeks. I have emailed parents and carers the term letter, specific to particular year groups. We are working hard to improve communication and provide avenues for busy people to know what is happening and where to find information. The website is always a great place to start.
In the second week of Term 2, we have historically conducted surveys of parents, students and staff. I would encourage you to participate and can assure you we take notice of the feedback and work to improve. It feeds into our Strategic Plan and the annual work plans associated with it. Please see if you can find some time to contribute.
Learning with SEQTA
I hope you are having success with SEQTA Engage, or SeeSaw, depending on the age of your child. As teachers, we are coming to terms with the technology. We can’t see the parent view, however, and I have to say we do get a bit nervous about what you are seeing. We do get to see a student view, though. I really liked the immediacy of students getting their feedback and not having to wait until the next time I see them in class. If you have any queries, please contact your classroom teacher and we can see what we can do to improve the experience.
Our community was saddened by the news that Sr Janet Sexton died on Monday. As a Presentation Sister, Sr Janet has a long history with St Mary’s College, both as a teacher and a former student of St Columba’s. We will have a Rosary in our Chapel to pray for Sr Janet at the time of her funeral. Please keep Sr Janet, The Presentation Sisters and Sr Janet’s family and friends in your prayers at this sad time.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
Wednesday 4 April 2018
I hope you had a happy Easter and enjoyed some family time, chocolate and hot cross buns. I certainly did, and perhaps too much chocolate. I find it intriguing to see how Easter seems to be morphing into a secular celebration. Hot cross buns – a reference to the crucifixion of Jesus – are now being called ‘Easter buns’. Rather than being a once-off Good Friday fare, hot cross buns are produced for weeks and weeks in the lead up to the Easter. The symbolism of bunnies and eggs too, of new life through the resurrection of Christ, has become more about the chocolate and less about the symbol. You can get all kinds of figurines in chocolate to recognise Easter – did I see a Star Wars chocolate figure?
To hold onto a Christian view of Easter, you need to actively pursue it. Easter is a culmination of Holy Week. It leads us from a period of deep and critical self-reflection through the recognition of the communal nature and our part in service to others, to a time of recognising the hope of Christianity.
It is the beginning of a whole Church season of hope and peace. Happy Easter!
Wednesday 21 March 2018
If you were lucky enough to be at our 150th celebration on St Patrick’s Day, you will know what I mean when I say that St Mary’s College is such a strong and vibrant community. Our students modelling bygone uniforms, painting faces, serving drinks and Irish dancing involved those from Prep to Year 12. There was a large alumni presence led by the Executive, but which also included past scholars who reconnected with St Mary’s on the day. There were former principals and staff members, and lots of current staff. With the backdrop of some great Irish music, and a glorious day, it was pretty hard not to revel in the joy of St Mary’s College. Thanks to the 150th Anniversary Committee, particularly Marg Rootes, and the staff, parents and alumni who made our festivities possible.
Entries invited for 150th Art Competition
Calling our artists from within our community! Entries for our 150th Art Show closes on April 12, 2018. The theme is ‘150 years at St Mary’s’ and there will be a prize of $150 art supplies voucher for the chosen Junior School entry and the Senior School entry. Adults are encouraged to enter also, with a $50 AdArt voucher for the winner of the People’s Choice category. For more information about the competition, and to submit your entry, click on the following link: http://www.smc.tas.edu.au/150th-anniversary/
Building school pride
St Mary’s College also had a large contingent of rowers at the Head of the River regatta at Lake Barrington at the weekend. They continue to represent us with great pride and accomplishment. Our Year 12s braved the weather for as long as they were allowed, to work for funds and awareness for cancer, in the Relay for Life. Thanks to all the staff and parents who supported St Mary’s through these events over the weekend.
Celebrating our Catholic school community
This week is Catholic Education Week. John Mula, the Director of Catholic Education in Tasmania writes, ‘Catholic schools and colleges strive to develop in children faith, spirituality, life-giving values, and a clear sense of right and wrong to give greater meaning and purpose to all that they do. Families and teachers want our students to be good citizens and people of integrity’. At the Tasmanian Catholic Education Commission Recognition Awards on Thursday, our beloved Sister Gabrielle Morgan is being recognised with the highest accolade for her enduring service to Catholic Education, and particularly St Mary’s College. Jo Messer, alumni, past P&F President and Board member, will also be acknowledged as a ‘Friend of Catholic Education’, specifically for her work with St Mary’s College. Former staff member, Kerry Hennessy will be awarded in highlight of his significant and valued teaching at St Mary’s College. These three members of our community are people who have put our children and young people at the heart of their work and we are greatly appreciative of the long standing contribution they have made to St Mary’s College.
The art of gentle revolution
We have entered the seventh week of the term, meaning we have now passed the half-way mark. It is a good time for older students to refocus on the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the year. For parents and carers, supporting them in ensuring early established habits are being followed is timely.
Michael Leunig’s simple and yet challenging theology never ceases to engage my spirit:
God help us to change.
To change ourselves and to change the world.
To know the need for it. To deal with the pain of it.
To feel the joy of it.
To undertake the journey without understanding the destination.
The art of gentle revolution.
Image source: https://www.learnenglish.de/images/cartoons/spelling.JPG
Thursday 8 March 2018
We’ve had a very sad time these past few weeks. As is often the case, tragedy has brought out the best in people. I couldn’t be more proud of the St Mary’s students as they have rallied around one another. They have shown themselves to be children and young people who know what compassion means and how to show it.
We have also seen great kindness offered to us as a College. Flowers, cards and emails have expressed great empathy and we are deeply grateful.
Grief is a long journey. Often, young people don’t understand this. It’s important we help them to realise that grief can be a very long process, but it’s also a normal process. I think of it like a river seen from above, always moving forward but somehow snaking back on itself. And of course, each of our experiences of grief differ. Helping young people to understand this is important.
As Christians, we believe in life with God beyond death. I’ve noticed our students pondering what this means. Maybe a family discussion would be timely.
We hold all the people in our community who have experienced a death of a loved one in our hearts and continue to pray for them.
Venerable Nano Nagle, pray for us.
Wednesday 21 February 2018
We had our Leaders’ Commissioning for Year 6-12 this week. Head Prefect, Isobel Kuo delivered an inspiring address. She told the students ‘…it is an absolute truth, it is its people who comprise the College who make St Mary’s great. It will never be the sandstone façade; it will never be the fountain. It will never be the top ground, or the science labs, or the art rooms. What makes St Mary’s great has always been, and always will be, you.’ She is wise beyond her years!
Join us for an evening on the green
We are in the Parent Information Evening season! I hope you are able to come along and get a sense of what is in store for your son or daughter this year. It is a great way to start a new partnership in supporting your child or young person. Those of you lucky to have a Parent Information Evening tomorrow night can also partake in the P&F Welcome Evening on the College Green (top ground). Stacey Daley, the new P&F President, is sure to make you feel a part of the place.
Starting good habits early
At the start of the year, routines established early are so important. For the smaller children, the management of possessions, carrying the bag, filling a water bottle and the like are key. For older students it is about getting into a good habit of revising school work each day, completing homework, using the College diary and starting assignments early. Parents and carers can keep an eye on the College diary for homework and assignments.
Take time to reflect
The late Irish poet, author and priest, John O’Donoghue offers a reflection on beginnings…
Beginnings often frighten us because they seem like
Lonely voyages into the unknown.
Yet, in truth, no beginning is empty or isolated.
We seem to think that beginning is setting out from
a lonely point along some line of direction into the unknown.
This is not the case.
Shelter and energy come alive when a beginning is embraced.
A beginning is ultimately an invitation
to open toward the gifts of growth and are stored up for us.
To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect.
When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning,
unforeseen things can emerge.
And in a sense, this is exactly what a beginning does.
It is an opening for surprises.
Surrounding the intention and the act of beginning,
there are always exciting possibilities.
Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen;
They are not regressions or repetitions.
Somehow they win clearance and become fiercely free of the grip of the past.
Wednesday 7 February 2018
Welcome to our new St Mary’s College families!
You are joining us on our birthday year – we are celebrating 150 years since the doors of our beautiful sandstone convent building opened to students for the first time.
We are blessed to have such strong tradition in our culture which provides a solid foundation for our pursuit of innovation and engagement.
The Parents and Friends are having their ‘welcome to families’ event at the College on Thursday 22 February at 6.00pm. We would love for you all to join us.
2017 TCE and ATAR success
We are very proud of our Year 12 graduates from last year. On Monday, Her Excellency Professor, The Honourable Kate Warner AC – our Governor, presented Rebecca Anning with an award for Outstanding Achievement in VET.
Bec gained entry to Business at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and has some great options in front of her.
Bec’s cohort did very well; 96 per cent of St Mary’s College students attained the Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE), with 21 per cent receiving an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 90 or higher.
In addition, 65 per cent of students earned ATARs of 75 or higher and 77 per cent received an ATAR of 65 or higher.
Year 12 also worked very hard to achieve strong VET results, with 14 Certificates I and II awarded and many more units of competence gained. Congratulation, Rebecca Anning and Year 12, 2017!
It’s back to school time
Thanks to all families for all that the return-to-school entails. The hair braiding, the stationery shopping, the uniform purchasing and dry cleaning, the lunchbox planning, the pep talks and all the other things.
Students have arrived this week shiny and ready to go. We delight in their return as we set sail with them on this new academic year.
New learning management system
This year, we are focusing on feedback for learning. Teachers giving feedback to students on their work is a really significant part of teaching. We are going to work closely to support students to make sure the feedback becomes a rich avenue for their learning. Our new Learning Management System, SEQTA, will be a great vehicle to ensure students have ongoing access to feedback.
As Term 1 progresses, parents and carers will gain access to this feedback too. This strengthening of the partnership around learning is an exciting development.
Our Parent Evenings will be the main opportunity for families to see it in action and gain an understanding of what’s possible. For the full list of dates and times, please visit the College website calendar here: http://www.smc.tas.edu.au/calendar/
Take time to give thanks
It would be difficult not to be overwhelmed by the beauty of Hobart at the moment as we cling to the long evenings and relish the warm(er) water.
We give thanks to our God of the universe for this generously graced joy.
At this time, too, we pray for some in our community who are having a hard time.
God of the universe,
We thank You for Your many good gifts –
For the beauty of Creation and its rich and varied fruits,
For clean water and fresh air, for food and shelter, animals and plants.
Forgive us for the times we have taken the earth’s resources
And wasted what You have given us.
Transform our hearts and minds
So that we would learn to care and share,
To touch the earth with gentleness and with love,
Respecting all living things.
We pray for all those who suffer as a result of our waste,
Greed and indifference,
And we pray that the day would come when everyone has enough
food and clean water.
Help us to respect the rights of all people and all species
And help us to willingly share your gifts
Today and always.
— Fiona Murdoch, Eco-Congregation Ireland.
Wednesday 13 December 2017
It has been a lovely fortnight at St Mary’s College, as we have celebrated with our little people and our big people.
As the year ends, we farewell a number of staff at the College.
Matthew Williams leaves us with his family to move to Melbourne to take up a Deputy Principal of Faith and Mission role. Matt has worked tirelessly to ensure our students understand what it means to be part of the Catholic College in this day and age.
Kerry Hennessy is retiring from his teaching career after 23 years at St Mary’s College. Kerry has been a dedicated teacher who has worked hard to ensure his students have developed their talents in mathematics and science. He has also brought us great joy with his passion for the dress up! In recent weeks we met him as the St Mary’s student – you know what they say: ‘Once a St Mary’s girl, always a St Mary’s girl!’ We are deeply grateful for Kerry’s work and wish him ongoing happiness in his retirement.
We also farewell the following staff members, who are leaving us in 2017:
- Sheree Kemp
- David Noble
- John Snell
- Kathryn Jaeger
- Rachel Deal
- Kelly Jarvis
- Nicole Eckhardt
- Hugh Austin
- Kylie Barrett
- Charlie Fenderson
We are grateful for their time at St Mary’s College and wish them well in their varied future endeavours.
For parents of students in the Senior School, I hope to see you tonight at the Prize-Giving Ceremony, where we will continue to celebrate our student endeavours in 2017.
Thank you all for being part of the St Mary’s College community this year and all that has meant in terms of your time, commitment, generosity and faith. I wish you all the love, hope, peace and joy that Christmas brings and look forward to celebrating our 150th year with you next year.
Wednesday 29 November 2017
It is a busy time of the year for schools, with graduation, reporting, the returning of library books, swimming programs, picnics, leadership programs, step-up days and concerts filling up the calendar. It is also busy with the planning that has to happen for next year to run smoothly, from finalising calendars and timetables to sorting book lists, staffing and class lists. The same is true in families, as they respond to all the end-of-year activities and planning for next year. Throw in a Christmas party or two and it seems unfathomable!
This Sunday is the start of Advent, the Christian season in preparation for Christmas. It is supposed to be a time of reflection and preparing ourselves while waiting for Jesus. In Australia, Advent is caught up in the end-of-year craziness. The candles on an Advent wreath symbolise hope, faith, peace and joy, with one lit for each Sunday of Advent. Perhaps this is a simple way that families, at home, can focus on the significance of Christmas and the lead up to it. You have to make time to gain time to reflect, and a family ritual might be just the thing!
Christmas is also a time for charity. At school, we are supporting the Vinnies Christmas Appeal. You can join in by donating a non-perishable food item and encouraging your child or young person to think of what it means to really prepare for Christmas. It would be even better, if this item is purchased with their own pocket money, or hard-earned pay.
Wednesday 15 November 2017
The recent Kinder and Prep to Year 2 Athletics Carnivals showcased enthusiasm and participation at their best! Five-year-olds know how to be delighted with having a go. They jumped as hard as they could in sack races and it didn’t seem to matter if they finished first or last. It was a beautiful reminder of the call to the simplicity of the good things in life.
Simplicity is one of the values of the Presentation Sisters and as ‘Presentation people’, we try and take it on. It is a big challenge for us in this age of complexity, as I have said before. Perhaps, if we can unearth this simplicity within ourselves, we can be the truly extraordinary people that God intends each of us to be.
Please keep our older students in your prayers as they sit their exams. Included below is a simple approach to prayer…
Wednesday 1 November 2017
This fortnight is consumed with Year 12s finishing their schooling. If you are a parent or carer of a Year 12 student, I bet you’re wondering where those years went. And if you’re a parent or carer of anyone else in the College, you are probably thinking the day your child finishes will never come!
This will be my second time through watching St Mary’s Year 12s finish. In other schools near and afar, the end of the year was met with some trepidation from me as I anticipated all kinds of things. This year, my second time through, I know to anticipate only a celebration of joyful belonging, both from what I came to experience last year and also of the calibre of our Year 12 graduands. I thank Year 12 for their tremendous leadership this year and for everything they have done to embrace challenges and enhance our community. They really have been tremendous!
To the families of these young women, thank you for your commitment to St Mary’s College over the many years in all the many ways you contributed. We congratulate you on your ‘graduation’! You will always be part of the SMC community.
We wish our Year 12s every blessing as they embark on the world beyond their beloved College. We look forward to seeing them next year at our 150th celebrations and thank the Catholic Church Development Fund for sponsoring their invitation to the Gala Dinner. We know they will continue to be women of courage and compassion and will take Nano’s light out into their new worlds. We are deeply proud of them and send with them our love and wish them God’s abundance and blessings.
At their graduation last night, the staff sang them a blessing …
The Blessing Song
May the Lord look upon you with kindness
and give you His peace.
May He free you from all anxiety,
and make your worries cease.
May He hear your every prayer
and guide your way in His love.
May He keep you safe forever from all harm.
May your days be blessed with friendship
and your home with His grace.
May you always be blessed by His presence
with you in every place.
May courage and faith walk beside you
May you grow in His love day by day.
And in love may you strengthen each other forever.
Wednesday 18 October 2017
I’m recently back from a pilgrimage to Ireland with Sr Majella Kelly, learning more about the head, heart and hands of Nano Nagle. Nano, the foundress of the Presentation Sisters, responded to the people of her times, living out the work of Christ.
St Mary’s College has the same mission; to respond to the people of our times through education. It means our education must be foundational on solidarity with the poor, service, justice, mercy and love. These are the marks of Catholic education Hobart in the 21st century. I could see a really clear link between the way Nano lived out her life, and the essential way the Presentation Sisters in Ireland were living. The Sisters’ sense of compassion, simplicity and hospitality were palpable.
Those touch stones are also palpable at St Mary’s College. Living through those touch stones to enact love, service, justice and mercy are what we are doing here, in this time. Even in classes that might seem worlds away from the Christian message, these become lenses with which to operate. Recognising the marvel of God’s wonder in mathematics, the dignity of the person in economics, and the strength of the posture of compassion in drama are what we do at St Mary’s College.
I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a pilgrim and incredibly blessed to encounter the living charism of the Presentation Sisters alive and well.
At this time, we pray especially for our senior students as they prepare for exams.
You filled the heart of Nano Nagle with loving care and compassion for those in need.
Through her intercession, help us in our present need.
We pray, that like her, we may grow in your love and in the love of the poor and moist vulnerable in our world.
Wednesday 20 September 2017
Pilgrimage to Ireland
Wednesday 6 September 2017
I’m heading to Ireland to meet Sr Majella Kelly to explore the places of Nano Nagle’s life and legacy. Then I’m heading to Italy to visit our sister schools in Assisi and Trento, before taking some leave. I will be away for the next three weeks!
I am very grateful to the Governing Council, the Presentation Sisters and our staff for allowing me this very special pilgrimage. During this time Jacqueline Conboy will be Acting Principal, Matthew Williams will be Acting Deputy Principal and Andrew Clarke, Acting Director of Identity and Mission.
Maddy Curtis was a finalist for ‘Trainee of the Year’. Well done, Maddy!
Stuart Calvert (our Director of Business and Operations) has been nominated as a finalist in the Leader/Manager category of the Tas State Final, Australian Leadership Excellence Awards. The ceremony will be held on September 14 and we wish Stuart well.
Thanks again to the P&F for supporting our Religious Education team to provide a bigger and better Father’s Day.
Don’t forget to look at the website to find out about our 150th plans: http://www.smc.tas.edu.au/150th-anniversary-committee-3/
With the closing of Birchalls, the College has finalised a contract with OfficeMax to resource our booklists. Further details will be out shortly, and the actual booklists will be included in the end of the year reports. We have changed the practice of having parents contribute communal supplies for class groups.
When I am in Cork, I will pray for our children and young people, their families and school staff, and the wider St Mary’s College community.
Thursday 24 August 2017
Is at the heart of God’s self disclosure,
Our privileged task
Is to consecrate the ordinary,
To draw out from its womb.
The midwives of mystery,
The embodied presence
Of our wonderful God.
Wednesday 9 August 2017
I was lucky to be able to go to the Parents and Friends meeting last night. I am in awe of the generosity of them as a group. They were talking about the High Tea they have arranged for Sunday. The trouble they are going to, to make it a special occasion, amazed me. It smacks of our St Mary’s College culture.
P&Fs were an invention of necessity, of times gone when there was no government funding whatsoever. All money needed was raised by parents or contributions from parishes and the work force or, in our case, the Presentation Sisters. Times then, often one parent was working inside the home. Now, most families either are single parent families or both parents work outside the home.
I greatly admire the commitment and energy of the Parents and Friends Association. Many parents and carers contribute to our College. Whether it is coming in for reading help, accompanying an excursion, or coaching a team, there is a great culture at St Mary’s College of parent involvement. Also, we should acknowledge all those lesser acts – standing on the sideline cheering the team on, dropping your daughter at a Prefects’ function, bringing her or him to Mass when the College asks, coming to Parent/Student/Teacher interviews just to meet the teachers, reading the newsletter.
Thanks to all the parents and carers who make time to be involved and be connected. It is a great strength of the College.
Wednesday 26 July 2017
I do hope you had some lovely family time over the break.
Before the holidays, I had the privilege of reading the mid-year reports. I was, again, amazed by the hard work that is being undertaken by most of our St Mary’s College students.
For students above Year 3, I still feel challenged that months of learning can be distilled into a single letter, A to E. It is actually a Federal Government requirement that we report grades. I think what is more telling for parents, is the scale/s associated with application to learning. Not everyone is a brilliant student with natural ability and a conducive lifestyle for learning. Every student, however, has the capacity to give of their best. If your child is meeting or exceeding expectations in regard to application to learning, then their grade is a good indication of their best achievement.
As learners get older, their application to learning seems to play a larger and larger role in their grades. Students with natural ability are less able to ‘perform’ without good study habits.
This was highlighted for our senior students at a recent assembly, when we invited SMC Alumna, Miranda Ling (pictured above) back to receive the Principal’s Award for earning the highest ATAR last year. She made an outstanding address. Rather than try and encapsulate it, you can read it in full on the College website by clicking here. It was inspiring to staff and students alike. If you have a high school student, you might encourage them to read it too. #proudprincipal.
I am reminded of one of my nephews whose father wanted him to study physics and chemistry. He wanted to study construction and ultimately won, finishing Year 12 to gain an apprenticeship. He won the state apprentice of the year in his final year and went on to create his own successful building business. It is what we do with our abilities that ultimately counts, perhaps more so than what our abilities are in the first place. #proudaunt.
Wednesday 28 June 2017
Gratitude seems to be a bit of a pop-psychology fad at the moment. It is actually an ancient truth belonging to many world religions. In Christianity we usually call it thanks-giving. It is a recognition of God’s blessings in our lives. I think it is also a recognition that there is always someone worse off than you. It is a worldview as much as anything.
I would like to pay gratitude to the St Mary’s parents and carers. I am thankful for the partnership we share in educating your children. I am grateful for the trust you place in us, every day.
I appreciate the parents and carers who are going ‘one pace beyond’ in their busy lives, contributing to the School Board, the Parents and Friends Association, helping out on excursions, coaching and managing sports teams, contributing to the building fund, hosting exchange students (there is opportunity now to host a Chinese student for a fortnight, by the way!). There are a host of contributions parents and carers make above and beyond.
A very special thank you
This week, I had the privilege to attend the funeral of a former parent, Mary Excell. Mary was the first female president of the SMC P&F. She then spent years of her life committed to Tasmanian Catholic Parents and Friends, among working in many other significant volunteer positions. It is people like Mary who give such strength and vitality to our St Mary’s College community.
Sr Campion, a Presentation Sister and former SMC teacher, will be buried tomorrow. The Sisters who have worked at our College and those who still do have a tremendous generosity and show us the way to serve God through serving our students in education.
I am grateful, deeply grateful, for these two great women, and the other women they epitomise. I invite you to join me in praying for them, and those who loved them.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon them
May they rest in peace
Wednesday 14 June 2017
Humans seem to spend a lot of time measuring and comparing. At the moment, I am very focused on measuring the daylight and waiting for the winter solstice to come so I can notice the days getting longer beyond it. I don’t think I am alone!
I have to question to myself as why it is important to me if it is light or dark, or whether I am, in essence, wishing time away.
Jesus said he came so that we may have life and live it to the full. Winter and long nights are as much a blessing as summer and long days; it is all in the mindset. A positive and growth mindset is a foundation for a happy and fulfilled life.
We talk those elements up at St Mary’s College because we believe they are so important for success. Maybe Nano Nagle’s use of a lantern is the practical and metaphorical example of how to approach the darkness of winter.
Wednesday 31 May 2017
At assembly this week, I am going to speak to students about reading. Growing up with older siblings, I was really lucky that there were always age-appropriate books in our home. And age-inappropriate books, too, I might mention – The Female Eunuch was on our shelf and I remember being so ‘intrigued’ by the cover! Anyway, with books at home and lots of role models reading regularly, it was a natural thing for me to be a reader. Not all young people have this set up at home, and these days, lots of our communication is digitally based, so perhaps in lots of homes there are fewer books than there used to be.
A cornerstone of education is being able to read. The easier it is for students to read, the easier they can get on with understanding, applying, evaluating, synthesising and creating. It is good for young readers to read texts that challenge them, but also texts they enjoy that perhaps aren’t so challenging. If they can enjoy reading, they are more likely to persist with the more challenging texts. The habit of reading before bed is a great one to nurture, and this might be the time that children read their choice in text and do so for pleasure.
Listed below are five things that you can do to support young readers:
- Join them up to the local library.
- Give them a different (library) book each week until you find something they love.
- Show them reading is a part of life – read the papers on the weekends.
- Have a family bookshelf with a range of fiction and non-fiction books.
- Make a family commitment to digital-free reading time before bed.
I’m sure you can think of at least 10 more!
Everyone’s reading progress is different. Wherever your child is at is OK, as long as they keep heading in the direction of improvement.
I usually end with a prayer, but I offer instead God’s blessing to be found in humour…
‘A Silly Poem’ by Spike Milligan
Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I’ll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?
Wednesday 17 May 2017
One of the things I love about Hobart is its sense of history that is visible in buildings and infrastructure. Coming to St Mary’s, merely from the point of its history, was and still is exciting to me. I can look out my window and see the picked sandstone and wonder about the people who made it and the others who have gazed through this glass. I wonder, too, about the land the buildings occupy, and how the land was used and stewarded by the Mouheneener people before (and after) the buildings. History is made through contemporary actions through a timespan, and is sometimes referred to as ‘the path of history’. Rather than it being a purely linear path, I think of it more like a path of crazy paving than one which is smooth, straight and seamless. What we do today is part of future history, but we are all ‘doing’ in different ways, contributing a stone to fit in with another stone and another. Together we make a path.
We are all part of the St Mary’s path, through our personal association with the College. The St Mary’s path is blessed and we cherish being a part of it. We can look back and marvel at the tenacity of some of its earlier people, or try and imagine the issues they were navigating in their time. We can also look forward and imagine where the path might lead us and who might be pivotal and how they might change the world ahead of themselves. It’s good to look both ways and gain perspective on the here and now. It’s also important to recognise waypoints or milestones along the path. Both those words are old and I think we would now refer to them as kilometre signs, which loses the romance of the old notions of journeyers.
Next year, we celebrate 150 years of St Mary’s College. This will be a celebration for our current students, their parents and staff, but equally for past students, their families and staff. We will have a few events to enable us to come together and rejoice in our community and glimpse back at the path we have created together. We will have a birthday cake and a mass and a book and a barbecue and a gala dinner and a grand bazaar and maybe even a cocktail party! I am sure you will find a way to celebrate as part of us. We have also commissioned a sculpture of Nano Nagle, our foundress, to be installed at the front of the convent building. With her lamp she will welcome all to the College and simultaneously guide our children and young people out into the world to serve God through serving others. Like adjusting a crazy paver to make way for a new element of the backyard, we will be moving the fountain across the lawn to prepare for the statue of Nano. The fountain has a firm place on our path, in fact, this newsletter is named after it. So…we are moving the fountain to continue the path!
If we take the metaphor of path back to the scriptures we are reminded of Psalm 16:11
11 You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Wednesday 3 May 2017
Welcome to Term 2! We especially welcome new families and new staff members. I hope your Easter celebrations were joyful and you found some good family time.
Easter is a season, rather than an event. So in the Church we are celebrating the Easter season. It is a time of focus on hope; hope found in the Risen Christ.
In the Early Church, of course, this season corresponded with spring. The northern hemisphere is celebrating the hope of the Risen Christ in the context of spring. Our Italian travellers (welcome home!) experienced this.
Looking ahead, the Northern Church can naturally contemplate growth and renewal within the spring context. We are experiencing autumn. It is easy to find joy in autumn, in the currawongs coming off the mountain, the colours of the trees and the gentle angle of the sun, but to my mind, to see hope, I need to look past the shortest day!
I can see hope, however, in the students of St Mary’s as their lives emulate spring. In their actions, too, I see the hope of the Risen Christ. Isabella Cox (Year 8), Ava McInerney (Year 8), Olivia Bellchambers (Year 10) and Lily Robertson-Mallias (Year 12) put on their uniforms on Palm Sunday and braved the rain to rally for refugees. These students optimise the call to action for justice.
As the joy of the loveliness of autumn fades and we contend with the short days and grey weather, it is important to be mindful of the mental health of our young people. Statistics for mental health in adolescents are worrying. It is important to help them keep active, look forward to things, stay connected with friends and family. Perhaps have a family technology-free day once a week. Some suggest vitamin D supplementation is essential to living in Tasmania.
Below is my very favourite Michael Leunig cartoon. This approach helps me beat the winter blues and see around me all that tells of the Risen Christ …
Wednesday 5 April 2017
This Saturday we farewell staff and students travelling overseas together to Italy. What a wonderful opportunity for our students to immerse themselves in another culture and enhance their language skills. This time of the year also provides them with a spiritual journey. They will leave Assisi on Good Friday and be in Florence on Easter Sunday.
Whether we realise it or not, we all have a spiritual dimension. It’s part of being human and, of course, it is unique to each individual. May Easter be a time of happiness, reflection and renewal for all of the St Mary’s College community.
Joyce Rup says it so well …
‘Creator of joy, lift out of our hearts of any heaviness or deadly doldrums residing there. Turn our attention towards opportunities to rejoice; the colours, shapes, and sounds of beauty our eyes unconscientiously see and hear, unexpected kindness, the dawning of each new day, the quiet approaching of night, and all those little lifts of joy we can quickly pass without noticing or offering thanks. Reach us with your Eastering joy.’
Wednesday 22 March 2017
We are delighted to announce Todd Booth as the new chair of the College board. Todd has been deputy chair for the last three years. If you don’t know Todd and you are a viewer of Sunrise, you may come to know him; Todd is participating in the Tour de Cure. As one of only three Tasmanians. You may wish to sponsor him https://www.tourdecure.com.au/pages/default/index.
We are very grateful for Mark Waddington’s leadership. Mark has chaired the board for the past three years and provided a strong transition between principals and ushered in a new strategic plan. He has also been proactive in insuring succession planning for the ongoing strength of the Board. Thanks Mark, on behalf of the SMC community.
Happy Catholic Education Week!
As Lent continues, here is a desert reflection to support our Lenten journey.
The crowded bus, the long queue, the railway platform, the traffic jam, the neighbours’ television sets, the heavy-footed people on the floor above you, the person who still keeps getting the wrong number on your phone. These are the real conditions of your desert. Do not allow yourself to be irritated. Do not try to escape. Do not postpone your prayer. Kneel down. Enter that disturbed solitude. Let your silence be spoilt by those sounds. It is the beginning of your desert.
Wednesday 8 March 2017
Every school and its teachers care about students and their outcomes.
What makes St Mary’s different is the Catholic nature of our school. The word Catholic means universal, open to all. To be a Catholic school is to welcome everyone. It is to view the world through a ‘Catholic lens’, where love, compassion, justice and mercy are paramount; a world where the dignity of each person is deeply held and the common good is placed above individual desires.
The Catholic lens insists that everyone needs to look after everyone else and that those with must help those without. Ultimately, the lens shows a world and all in it, made by God, and a plan made by Jesus to build God’s reign (justice, peace, love, compassion…) in our world. The Holy Spirit helps people follow the plan. There is no separating the Catholic from St Mary’s College.
We recognised Ash Wednesday last week with a Liturgy in St Mary’s Cathedral. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. For Christians, Lent is a time for prayer and reflection, fasting and giving. I think we can get on the wrong track with fasting sometimes. I think it is about acknowledging our humanness and seeing that enough is as good as a feast (Mary Poppins). Perhaps in our modern world it is about simplicity, delayed gratification and anti-materialism.
This is my favourite reflection on fasting – it’s older than you might imagine. Perhaps your family could focus on one for Lent.
Lenten Litany on Fasting and Feasting
Fast from judging others;
Feast on the Christ indwelling them.
Fast from emphasis on differences;
Feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness;
Feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness;
Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute;
Feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent;
Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger;
Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism;
Feast on optimism.
Fast from worry;
Feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining;
Feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives;
Feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures;
Feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility;
Feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness;
Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern;
Feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety;
Feast on eternal Truth.
Fast from discouragement;
Feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress;
Feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy;
Feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion;
Feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken;
Feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow;
Feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip;
Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm;
Feast on prayer that undergirds.
William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)
Wednesday 22 February 2017
Families will have just received a copy of our 2017 St Mary’s College hard-copy calendar. This calendar includes some important dates that you will need for the year ahead. Please be mindful that unfortunately we sometimes need to change the calendar, so it is always a good idea to check the website calendar, as it is the true source! We have created the hard copy calendars to support clear communication from the College. I will also write each term to families and flag key activities for each year group.
To foster creativity rather than conformity
To guide rather than goad
To clarify rather than confuse
To support rather than supplant
To respect rather than to judge
To motivate rather than captivate
To listen rather then tell
To encourage rather than discourage
To link rather than divide
To innovate rather than imitate
To free rather than limit
To make independent rather than dependent.
The Newsletter is our primary way of communicating with families. I would encourage you to read it each fortnight so you feel you are in the loop. Our website is also a focus of communication. I open my heart to Christ in the stranger,
Wednesday 5 February 2017
Building is nearly completed
Keep calm and be happy at school
Young Tasmanians achieving well
Parents and Friends welcome you
A Prayer of Hospitality
To Christ in the face of colleague and friend,
I open my heart to the one who is wounded
To Christ in the hungry, the lonely, the homeless
I open my heart to the one who has hurt me
To Christ in the faces of sinner and foe
I open my heart to those who are outcast
To Christ in the broken, the prisoner, the poor
I open my heart to all who are searching
To Christ in the world God’s generous gift
The Newsletter is our primary way of communicating with families. I would encourage you to read it each fortnight so you feel you are in the loop. Our website is also a focus of communication.
I open my heart to Christ in the stranger,
Tuesday 13 December, 2016
Dear Parents and Families,
As the year draws to an end we farewell the following staff:
- Maddy Curtis
- Jen Earle
- Laura Harris
- Jayne Higgs
- Anita Johansson-Wong
- Joe Moore
- Gabrielle Palmer
- Jim Taylor
- Genevieve Walsh
- Hannah Warwarek
- Clare Williams
We thank them for all they have contributed to St Mary’s College and wish them well as they leave us.
In the yearbook, you’ll notice a mismatch between the list above and our staff farewells. The yearbook went to print before staffing was finalised.
We are pleased to say that Dr Brendon Gourlay is staying with us. We are very sad to be saying farewell to Gen Walsh who has so generously and cheerfully welcomed so many of our St Mary’s students into the College. Thank you, Gen. You go with our love and best wishes.
We wish the following staff well as they leave us for twelve months: Veronica Harris and Michelle Martin.
I will write to families in January and our next newsletter is due for publication on 15 February 2017.
May the peace, hope, love and joy of the Christmas Feast be with your family.
An Advent Prayer for Peace
Adapted from the internet.
Lord, in a season when every heart should be happy and light, many of us struggle with the heaviness of life—burdens that steal joy. In a world where worry, not peace, prevails, stir up that good news again. This Advent, make it real in our hearts. Never have we needed Your joy and peace more than now. As we wait for the gift of Immanuel, help us be people of peace, love, joy and hope to all we encounter.
Wednesday 30 November, 2016
It is hard to escape talk of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the media these days. It seems particularly important to ensure we keep talking about it at St Mary’s when we have a predominance of female students. Overall, women are highly under-represented in the STEM fields. St Mary’s is ahead of the curve!
You may have caught media reports of Heather Omant, SMC Science Learning Area Coordinator being awarded Tasmanian STEM Teacher of the Year.
Heather has set up a Science Department that is connected with the real-science-world. Students approach science as scientists, students work with scientists and university science students. They exhibit work and compete.
For three years running, St Mary’s has had a student make it through to the National level of competition in the BHP Billiton Science Competition. This year, we are proud of Year 9 student Eloise Deconinck, who is a finalist in the competition’s Year 9-12 age group.
Earlier in the year, Ms Forsyth and I were invited to a UTas dinner to honour St Mary’s 2015 Graduand, Alexandra Paton who won a science scholarship in Marine Biology. In Years 11 and 12. In Years 11 and 12 the majority of students study at least one science subject. Science is also well and truly alive and well in the Junior School where the Australian Curriculum has engaging areas of study presented as pivotal experiences to students.
We are looking for other ways to enhance STEAM (add Arts) at St Mary’s. We are getting more and more involved in coding and exploring project-based learning opportunities that go beyond traditional subjects.
We have recently applied for a grant to create a STEAM Room where, if we are successful, students will be able to access state-of-the-art facilities like 3D printers and materials needed for hydraulics, coding, sensors for data collection, virtual reality resources, and programmable devices. It’s exciting!
I’d say that we are punching above our weight in STEAM at St Mary’s and we are looking to increase opportunities for our students.
In a bygone era, science and Christianity were considered mutually exclusive. Following the Renaissance the Church came to terms with Science and now happily sees God’s “hand” in science. I will include an advent prayer next article, but for now, here is a lovely science prayer.
Congratulations to Heather and all our staff working in the STEAM area.
Lord Jesus, in prayer we lift up the industries of science, engineering, [mathematics] and technology and all the people who work in these fields. Those working in these industries work in fields that reflect your very nature: from the administrative assistant keeping the office or finances in order, to the scientist in the lab, to the repair person who maintains the equipment.
You were the original creator of this complex and beautiful world, and you provide healing and restoring solutions to problems. We are following in your footsteps. You gave us the raw materials for discovery, and you gifted us with the skill to make scientific and technological advances that contribute to the betterment of humanity…
Lord, we have all benefited from the discovery, inventiveness, and creativity of science, engineering, [mathematics] and technology. Inspire us all by the vision of a better future that is revealed by the very nature of their work.
Let these industries fill us with hope and joy because they remind us of your promise that one day this world will be made perfect. Remind us that our earthly lives have great significance in your Kingdom.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Bless the scientists who have found a way to make biofuels from discarded tyres!
November 16, 2016
Term 4 is a strange time in schools. Senior Secondary students are sitting exams 9we keep them in our prayers). We are busy finishing up the year and simultaneously planning the following year. Students are looking ahead and also trying to manage the end of the year work pressures. All of this as we look ahead to Christmas and the summer holidays. All of us, students, staff and families, need to remember to just be.
I offer three supports. I heard Tony Brennan play a simple and profound song based on scripture – I should have asked him if it was his…
Be still and know I am here
Be still and know I am
Be still and know me
Be still and know
The second is an enormous artwork that hangs in the Australian National Gallery by Colin McMahon, a New Zealand painter.(Victory Over Death 2, 1970, pictured)
The third is a beautiful prayer by Noel Davis which is one of my go tos.
A sitting down place
Slow me down.
Hold me still in Your arms.
Empty me of all
That is not You
and fill me with Your love.
Make my heart Your home
A wide and patient land
Where time hangs around
And distance is never too far
Where we can sit around a fire
And tell the stories
That draw lose our lives.
November 16, 2016
Celebrating with the Sisters
It has been a huge fortnight at St Mary’s. On Saturday we celebrated with the Presentation Sisters as they marked the sesquicentenary, the 150th year since Mother Xavier Murphy and her team of sisters and novices arrived in Hobart. This arrival was the beginnings of the Presentation order in Tasmania and in fact, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
On Saturday we rejoiced in the wonderful impact the Sisters have had in Tasmania, the thousands and thousands of families whose lives they have touched and the legacy that continues into the future through St Mary’s College, St Cuthbert’s, St Brigid’s and Corpus Christi in the South.
The Presentation sisters made a most generous gift; a trust to ensure that we are able to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds attend St Mary’s. It is so like the Presentation Sisters to give gifts on their big day!
Sunday’s Spring Fair
Sunday was Spring Fair! Despite the gusty wind, the Fair was a great celebration of our community. It was so obvious to see the dedication of families, students and staff as they came together to work for our College.
The hours and hours of work beforehand were evident at each stall. The day itself saw a seemingly tireless team of vendors, supported by all those who came. It really was a lovely occasion and thanks must go to the Fair Committee and the Parents and Friends Association. Josephine Messer’s vision, leadership and extraordinary efforts must be stated. On behalf of the St Mary’s community, thank you Jo! We are deeply appreciative.
Farewelling Year 12
And then to this week; Year 12 students are in their final week at school. Last night we celebrated at their Graduation Mass. Their Graduation was so beautifully within the Mass, and we were able to afford the occasion the great dignity it deserved. The traditions of St Mary’s are a great strength of the College and the Graduation showcases tradition in spades. The supper afterwards as well, and the cutting of the cake. All added to a night of dignified reflection and celebration. Congratulations to Year 12, 2016! Congratulations and thanks also to their parents. It is a notable event for you as well. To those families who are leaving St Mary’s, thank you for being part of our community and thank you for your support of the College in myriad ways over the years.
Today is the Feast of all Souls. We remember those who have died and continue to pray for them.
Our Year 12s have dressed up this week as they celebrate the end of their school years. They have joked playfully with our community in such a fine ending to their St Mary’s experience. They take with them our love and affection. We wish them every blessing into their futures. They will always remain a part of St Mary’s.
Alma Mater! Our St Mary’s, hear us chant our hymn of praise.
Your devoted children cherish memories of happy days.
Lovingly you led us onward, like a star in splendour bright,
Shining on the road to honour, guiding us to Christ the Light.
Here we vow to serve one Leader,
Marching forth His praise we sing.
See His standard raised above us, raised to honour Christ the King!
October 21, 2016
Term 4! It is lovely to welcome Spring and watch colour unfold around us. For families that are used to the three term year, Term 4 will fly by quickly. It is important for students that they use the time this term to consolidate their learning. Term 4 is no less important than the first term of the year.
For students in Year 11 and 12 in Level 3 courses, they will be facing exams. It is very important to put exams into perspective. They are only an opportunity for assessment. It is a controlled environment with finite time in which to demonstrate knowledge and understanding. They really shouldn’t be feared; preparation should be repetitive and constant from now on, particularly for subjects that have a lot of required content to be known. At the end of the day, however, they are only an assessment task and should be held in a broad perspective.
For all students, study is best achieved in the context of a balanced life; good diet, exercise, sleep and healthy socialisation. Of course, that looks quite different for a 7-year-old and a 17-year-old. A large threat to that balance can be social media and our ICT 24/7 connectivity.
Children and young people are growing up in an environment of constant accessibility to others. I don’t imagine our predilection for phones is going to reduce in their life time. It is really important that we give young people the skills to manage them and not be dominated by them. Some families have rules about phone time, with phones being required to be left in the kitchen after a certain hour. Others have rules about no phones at the table, or limits on screen time per day. Another approach is to have a screen-free day per week. It’s obvious, though, that such rules require good adult habits to be enforceable! Like all behaviour management, consistency is the key.
I wish all our students well in their final term, especially our beloved Year 12s as they move into the next phase of their lives. Pilgrim seems an appropriate metaphor for them, as used by Michael Leunig in this prayer from his Book of Common Prayers.
We pray for another way of being: another way of knowing.
Across the difficult terrain of our existence
we have attempted to build a highway and in so doing have lost our footpath.
God lead us to our footpath:
Lead us there where in simplicity
we made move at the speed of natural creatures
and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.
Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel
the movement of creation in our hearts.
And lead us there where side-by-side
we may feel the embrace of the common soul.
Nothing can be loved at speed.
God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights of the pilgrim; another way of knowing: another way of being.
September 7, 2016
It is lovely having a little bit of Spring!
Families will have noticed that the building program is well underway. The projected completion is in early January.
One of the last stages will be the building of a play space outside of the new kinder rooms. The Parents and Friends Association has generously made provision of $50 000 for it. We are embarking on a new strategic building plan and are mindful that play spaces and equipment is high on the list for our community.
A big part of Parents and Friends funds comes from the School Fair which is coming up. Please tell your extended family about it so we can maximise the joy across our community.
We are all welcome
I am aware that there have been some issues with parents and grandparents feeling unwelcome in the College because of the need to be escorted. Please know that you are very welcome! If you are here to volunteer your time and skills you are highly appreciated.
There are very stringent requirements in place around schools these days for good reasons. We follow the Tasmanian Catholic Education Policy that requires volunteers working with children to hold a Working with Vulnerable People card. These can be obtained through the Department of Justice and cost volunteers $17.00.
We all want our children to be safe, so we need a systematic approach to make that happen. Please don’t misunderstand the policy for a lack of trust or a lack of welcome.
College traffic flow
We are planning to meet with a traffic engineer to have a look at the possibilities and limitations of the site. We have written to the Hobart City Council and the Department of Infrastructure. We know, however, even without the expert voices, our school is in a difficult place regarding traffic flow.
The most important element is how we drive around the space – we make up most of the traffic. We also need to be wise in where we are letting students out of vehicles. A good rule of thumb is that the older the student the further away they can be dropped off.
Saint Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa was made a saint on the weekend. This reflection has been attributed to her and certainly fits into the way she lived her life and her commitment to living the Gospel.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
August 24, 2016
Dear Parents and Families,
A reminder about vehicle safety at dropoff and pickup
The car accident in Brisbane Street last week highlighted the slim line between safety and tragedy for us all. I have written to the Council and the Education Department to set up meetings and will pursue all avenues to ensure signage and other safety measures are effectively in place.
The bottom line, however, is that all parents need to drive with caution around the College and not take risks because they are in a hurry. I know most parents consistently do the right thing. I guess I am asking that parents might talk to each other and highlight expectations about drop off and pick up traffic.
Visit from a successful St Mary’s girl
Today we welcomed back a highly honoured alumna, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington. Marnie graduated from St Mary’s College in 1987 and speaks with warmth about Sister Barbara’s leadership.
Marnie left St Mary’s and took up a Rhodes Scholarship. She pursued academia and is now the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the Australian National University. She addressed students today from Year 5-12. Marnie spoke inspiringly about the opportunities open to our students. We were very appreciative of her visit and are extremely proud of her accomplishments.
Senior leadership position advertised
Parents and carers might have noticed an advertisement was placed in The Mercury on the weekend for a new College Leadership Team position: Director of Pedagogy.
This position has emerged from broad consultation earlier in the year and the emerging strategic plan. The successful candidate will lead our teachers to develop their professional capabilities and create opportunities for teachers to research, collaborate and learn.
The outcomes, of course, will be for the students. We have already had a high calibre of staff enquire about the position, so we anticipate a very strong field of candidates.
Swap your screen for a book
For Book Week in the younger years, there is a great emphasis on getting dressed up. This is a lovely tradition and I know families go to considerable and often last minute effort to ensure the costume is just so!
Perhaps we could also find time this coming weekend to do some reading for pleasure as a family. I think sometimes we get lost in the schedule of the way busy lives sometimes are and forget the joy of reading. Swap the screen for a book this weekend!
Reporting survey response
Lots of families responded to our reporting survey – thank you very much for your input. I would have to say it was quite polarised.
For example, two comments, one following the other, were: The Home Room Reports are absolutely vital, and then The Home Room Reports are a complete waste of time! Overall, however, it was evident that parents value feedback from teachers, whether in writing or verbally.
Parent,Student, Teacher night
Our Parent/Student/Teacher night for Year 10-12 was held on Tuesday. We encourage students to be present as they are the apex of our partnership and they are not required to be in uniform.
I have asked teachers not to say I didn’t need to see you, but if they forget, please allow me to translate … “I’m really happy to discuss your daughter’s learning, but why can’t the parents whose daughters are at risk of failing come and see me?”.
As always, if the allocated time is not enough, I encourage you to make a longer appointment at a different time. Some teachers have more than 120 students, which prohibits us having longer standing appointments
Last week we celebrated Catholic Education Week (and Science Week and this week is Refugee Week and Book Week!).
We attended a beautiful Mass in the Cathedral and were presented with the new Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools.
The Tasmanian Catholic Education Commission made an award to Andrea Maver (pictured), recognising her as one of only four Outstanding Service as an Employee within Catholic Education.
We congratulate Andrea on this wonderful and much-deserved achievement. The TCEC also recognised Anna Berger, Gaby Stuebing and myself as having 25 Years of Service in Catholic Education.
A beautiful Scottish blessing…
May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;
and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.
May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.
August 10, 2016
Dear parents and families,
Next week is Catholic Education Week. The Awards are state wide and recognise contribution to Catholic Education. We are very proud to announce that our very own Andrea Maver will be honoured with Outstanding Service as an Employee Award. Gaby Stuebing, Anna Berger and I will be recognised for 25 Years of Service in Catholic Education. We invite all parents and friends to the TCEC Recognition Awards at 4.00pm, Thursday 18 August.
We welcome back Jess Veitch, who will be sharing classes with Karen Walter in the Senior School.
Claire Raward and six students: Isobel Kuo, Harriet Saunders, Emmeline Gray, Imogen Barry-Murphy, Fantanesh Gebresilasi and Felicia Chong, are attending the Nagle Alliance Student Leadership Conference at Avila College in Melbourne from 10 to 12 August (pictured above). It is key to be an active partner in this alliance as it keeps our Presentation ethos nurtured and renewed. Thanks to Claire for taking the students.
NAPLAN results are posted home this week, so parents with girls in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will receive copies. Results are accompanied by a letter from me, suggesting that telling students their results may not be in their best learning interest. The main reason for this is our pursuit of Carol Dweck’s idea about Growth Mindset. Dweck, a psychologist, has studied characteristics of learners and found that believing you can has an impact on what you will take on. Students who believe that ability is fixed, limit their efforts as they fail to see the value in them. To this end, Dweck advocates praising effort and attitude rather than aptitude and ability. NAPLAN isn’t giving feedback about effort and attitude.
From time to time we receive notice that families are taking holidays during term time and sometimes seeking reassurance that it won’t impact their child or children. To say that, would really be saying that nothing happens at school over a two week or four week or however long period. It is true to say that learning at school in every year level happens every day. The College is not in a position to prohibit families to take holidays outside of the thirteen weeks designated as such, but I would say strongly that it is against our best advice as it will have an impact on your child’s learning. Classrooms these days are dynamic places with integrated, differentiated and cooperative learning. Curriculum is highly sequenced and spiralling. For these reasons teachers cannot support the absence with special work. It is not simply a matter of a teacher copying a few worksheets.
You came among us as
teacher, to reveal to us
the Father’s endless love
Our Catholic schools
continue to give witness to
your compassion and wisdom,
seeking always to ensure
that we are all welcome
no matter who we are.
May our Catholic schools
continue to be places of
belonging and sources of
hope and enthusiasm for our
young people and their
May the work of our
Catholic schools always be
guided by the inspiration
of your Spirit.
Prayer from www.catholicschools.nsw.edu.au
July 27, 2016
Dear parents and families,
SMC Parent, Marselle Lang has resigned her post as Secretary from the Rowing Club. The secretary role is a large and often thankless job in any organisation. Thank you Marselle for your generous commitment to rowing in this and past years. You have left big shoes to fill!
We are in the midst of our reporting and parent-teacher interview cycle. From a teacher’s point of view, it is usually a buoyant night where you learn that you and parents are on the same page. Sometimes, with older students, you discover the translation that has been going on between school and home has been nuanced to convey a slightly different reality!
I think as teachers, we are sometimes prone to doing more talking than listening at those conferences. The time set never feels long enough. Please feel that you can contact a teacher at any time during the year and make an arrangement to discuss your son or daughter’s learning. Thanks to all the parents and carers who have made the time or are making time to come in and build our home-school partnership.
As parents would know, we are moving to a BYO device (BYOD) environment this year and next. We had a big learning curve at the start of this year to manage getting so many devices onto our network. We are going to try and have a soft entry with the next wave of devices, allowing some students to bring devices in later this year to get set up for next year.
There won’t be any pressure to buy devices for this year and I will write to specific year groups in the next fortnight to let you know the plan in more detail. Part of the BYOD plan is that parents cease paying the IT levy. I appreciate there is still a significant cost, so we intend to provide lots of notice to parents and have negotiated a deal with a supplier. More detail soon.
We are heading towards Book Week. I am pretty excited as it is the first time I will get to dress up. Book Week is one way we continue to focus our students on reading. We have noticed over the last few years the older students are borrowing less from the library. We suspect it might have something to do with the consumption of social media.
If you can role model reading for pleasure to your children that’s a great thing. It is hard in the busyness of family life to find time, but you could consider it an active chore in child rearing! We are going to try some different strategies at school and see if we can reverse the borrowing trend.
On July 20 we acknowledged the 150th anniversary of the date the first Presentation Sisters boarded The Empress and left the shores of Ireland to make the long journey to Tasmania. A short play, written by the College’s archivist Marg Rootes, was performed by Year 5 students at our whole school assembly.
The play portrayed the huge sacrifice made by the original Sisters as they left their Irish homes and loved ones to bring education and peace to a troubled colony. It was a good reminder to us all to remember and reflect on the humble beginnings of St Mary’s College and that we all form part of its evolving history.
There is a lot of sadness in the world at the moment, both near and afar. I remember growing up in the 80s with the constant background news of the IRA. At no time, did it become a religious issue. In some ways it didn’t even imbue The Irish with the violence. It was talked about as the IRA and the terrorists.
I think it is helpful to look for opportunities to support our young people in thinking about current terror threat in a similar vein – not making it about religion or race, but seeing it for what it is.
I also remember as a youngster thinking there would be no end to the IRA terror. I was wrong, thankfully. We can help our young people feel hopeful about our world, too.
The Baha’i Prayer for Peace
Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity.
Be fair in your judgment, and guarded in your speech.
Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness, and a home
to the stranger.
Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew upon the soil of the human heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humility.
June 29, 2016
Dear parents and families,
As of today, our building program is underway! VOS Builders will be establishing a work site. We welcome Andy Smith, the site foreman to our community for the next six months. Andy’s priority is safety. Unfortunately, tender prices came in over estimations, so we have had to scale back some of the refurbishment of the music and drama facilities.
Last night we held our inaugural Careers Expo. Thanks to Angela Mitchelmore, Shelley Medhurst and Mel McLeod (who had her baby, Poppy, earlier this week – congratulations Mel and Dave!). It was a great success with many students and their families attending.
Rebekah Payne has been appointed to the position of Teacher Assistant with the Lantern Program until the end of the year. Sarah Cubit will be taking leave from July 18 to August 19 and while Sarah is away Kath Webb will take on Sarah’s timetable. Nicole Barnard will take over Kath Webb’s normal teaching load for the time Sarah is on leave. Enjoy your holidays, Sarah.
Enrolment Officer, Zoe Bennett is heading off to Poland for the World Youth Day; Zoe will be away from July 15 and return to the College on August 8. We wish her every blessing as she makes the pilgrimage with thousands of other young Catholics.
Part of what we are about as a College is seeking to go one pace beyond and at times reviewing what we do and what we can do better. Stuart Calvert, as part of the College Leadership Team, is undertaking a developmental performance appraisal. The link to the review will be available in the near future.
As the Spirituality Day will be held on the first day of Term 3, Monday 18 July, please note it will be a student free day. Classes resume on the Tuesday.
Next term we are offering some professional learning sessions for staff. The sessions will be held on Tuesdays and will commence on August 2 through to the December 6. The topics will cover ICT, Theology and Teaching and Learning. The program will be out early next term and we invite parents to participate if they are interested in a particular topic.
We have received confirmation from the Tasmanian Catholic Education Commission of the approval of the allocation of a fourth stream for Year 7 at St Mary’s for 2017. We have very strong numbers for next year and I’m happy we will be able to accommodate families who expressed interest in St Mary’s College.
Junior School reports went home Friday last week, and students from Years 7-9 will receive theirs Friday this week. When we follow up with Parent/Teacher interviews, please feel very welcome to attend, regardless of your child’s report. We are working as partners in education.
A pamphlet was distributed last week from the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office, explaining how Australian Catholic schools receive funding. There is always a lot of rhetoric around school funding at election times. In a nutshell, Catholic schools educate students for less than Government schools. School fees make up nearly a quarter of our funding. The Federal Government gives us considerably more than the State Government. We receive a very small amount of funding for capital works like building compared to the Government sector. The flier 2016 Federal Election: Funding Policies for Catholic Schools’ from the NCEC (working closely with the Catholic School Parents Australia) will also accompany this edition of the Fountain. Federal Election 2016 Policy Overview
The Board of St Mary’s is an advisory board charged with the responsibility of assisting College Leadership in ensuring that it remains faithful to its mission as a Catholic school inspired by the Presentation charism. In working with all sections of the College community to provide students with the opportunity to fulfil their spiritual, academic and personal potential, the Board will utilise the expertise of Strategic sub-committee to support leadership in developing perspectives to enhance the education available to all students.
The Board has sub-committees in the following strategic areas:
- Public Relations and Marketing
- Strategic Planning
Expressions of interest are currently being sought for membership of the Public Relations and Marketing Sub-Committee and the Strategic Planning Sub-Committee. If you feel you can assist the College in these two important strategic areas please email an expression of interest to the Principal, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all enquiries about Sub Committee membership please email Board Chair Mark Waddington, email@example.com
Expressions of Interest close on Monday 25 July.
As we approach the holidays, we give thanks to God for our many blessings, including the birth of Poppy Ellen McLeod, and remember those families who have suffered loss and grief.
A Time for Everything
For everything there is a season,
A time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
…. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. Ecc 3: 1-8, 11-18
June 15, 2016
Dear parents and families,
St Mary’s and St Virgil’s musical
Congratulations to the cast, crew, orchestra and production team of Hairspray! We are very proud of all of them. What a fabulous celebration of the arts. We are particularly grateful to Leah Smith and Scott Weston for the many, many hours they invested in our students.
School parking review
The drawback of being a city school is the great limitation on parking. We are looking at options to assist parents to drop off to and collect students from school. Next week, you may notice some staff with clipboards at pick up and drop off times. We may even approach you and ask some questions of you. We think it is important that some information is collected before we can determine improvements.
If you have expertise in this area, please feel free to make contact with me. I would encourage everyone to be mindful of our young people and the potential for them to do the wrong thing crossing roads and drive cautiously around our perimeter.
Winter and household expenses
The move into winter is often accompanied by extra household expenses. St Mary’s, as a Catholic school, is mindful of school costs to families. If at any time there is a school expense that can’t be met, you are always welcome to speak to me or our business manager, Stuart Calvert, to find a way forward. No student will be excluded from Catholic education because of an inability to pay and we can help out with expenses for uniform, books etc. in a confidential manner.
A fortnight ago we held our first social media forum. It seems to me it is a good way for some parents to participate in the life of the College, especially in the winter months. We will keep this form of communicating with families in mind for future needs. Thanks for all who participated and the wider audience that observed.
Satisfaction survey results are in
We have the data back from our Student, Parent and Staff Satisfaction surveys. They are very encouraging. In every area for each group surveyed we exceed the average for Australian Catholic Schools who use the surveys. On the parent surveys, there was considerable comment about homework. The views are polarised for parents, with some strong advocates for no homework and others for more homework. We will spend some time looking at homework this year, and at the very least, provide a clear expectation for each Year level to parents. Perhaps we could have a social media forum on this! I am not sure I could type fast enough, but I undertake to involve parents in the process somehow.
It’s quite a stressful time for our older students at the moment. As they face up to mid-year exams, many see a gap between their ideal performance and the reality they suspect. In addition, it’s winter, and short – but soon to be lengthening – days seem to make everything harder.
Now is a great time to have the big picture talks with your daughters about where they see themselves heading, but probably more importantly, how they think they are managing to balance their responsibilities. It might be a good time to rethink your relationship and take the next step in the adult to adult relationship it is becoming. Perhaps scheduling a coffee or making a social occasion where you can talk things through.
If you find things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped and your daughter needs some extra support, there are staff available to assist.
Families may be watching Revolution School on the ABC. If you are, you would be interested to know that John Hattie, the Educational Researcher working with the school, came and spoke in Hobart a few weeks ago. Some of our staff went along—and we are also planning some professional learning for staff based on that lecture. We are increasingly aware of substantial research about what affects learning. Hattie tells us it’s not class size and it’s not ability-grouping. It is the teacher and their feedback to students. There is obviously a bit more to it than that, but be sure we are working to ensure we are research-based in our approach at St Mary’s.
Consider education when casting your vote
The election is looming! Parents and guardians are asked to consider the policies of major parties over school funding. Our school is funded a little bit by fee contribution, a bit more by State Government and majority by the Federal Government. Catholic schools currently educate a child at about 80% of the cost of a government school education for the same child. The election will make a difference to our funding. Details are here. Download the document here.
We also have policy summaries for how the major parties deal with asylum seekers. Download the document with details here.
As a Catholic school we look with compassion at our fellow human beings fleeing danger and violence.
Let us not develop an education that creates in the mind of the student a hope of becoming rich and having the power to dominate [but one that forms] the lofty ideal of loving, of preparing oneself to serve and to give oneself to others. Archbishop Oscar Romero http://www.caritas.org.au/learn/schools
June 1, 2016
Dear parents and families
On Monday we welcomed back Brigid Knight. Brigid has been getting in touch with her own Irish heritage and enriching her knowledge and connection with the story of Nano Nagle and the Presentation Tradition. I’m sure we’ll all be keen to hear about Brigid’s pilgrimage.
We have announced a new pastoral care structure for the senior school in 2017. After much research and careful decision making, we are moving to a vertical Home Room arrangement, where students are grouped a few from each year group with a Home Room teacher and a coordinator. They stay together for their time at St Mary’s and each year they welcome in new Year 7s and farewell their Year 12s. There is a great sense of family in schools where this model operates and the connection between family and home is a constant.
Understandably, some students are reluctant about the change and we have spent lots of time listening and talking and supporting students to imagine the new future. While the decision for the new structure is firm, we are encouraging students to be a voice in shaping the detail and directing the new culture we are building. Parents can be part of the conversation on our Facebook Forum tomorrow evening.
Frequently Asked Questions and details of the forum can be found here.
We have been talking about the need for students to be risk takers in their learning. It is important for learners to make mistakes, as this provides learning feedback. We don’t usually get things right the first time and trying something challenging will often result in failure. We are talking to students about taking learning risks and seeing failure as feedback.
These ideas are also important with regard to building resilience. It can be tricky for parents (and teachers) to stand back and allow their children to fail, but the reality is that small, ongoing failures often lead to resounding success. If you have ever been addicted to a computer game (mine was Paganitzu many, many years ago), what often draws you in is the failure. Once you fail, you start over again to improve. My addiction ceased completely when I achieved the objective of the game.
Learning can work the same way if we don’t perceive failure as an end point, but as feedback for the next time.
The musical Hairspray opens before the next edition of the Fountain, so we wish them every success and pleasure in performing. Thanks in anticipation to the parents supporting the students and the staff managing the Musical. I can’t wait! We have some staffing changes to let you know about. Mel McLeod has gone on leave to have her baby. We wish Mel well and look forward to meeting her little one. Welcome to Karen O’Reilly, our new Payroll Officer, Marti Cuatt our Communications Officer, Louise Graves our Administrative Officer and Muireann de Buiteleir, our new Year 1 Penguins Teacher. We are blessed with the presence of our new staff and the depth of experience they bring to St Mary’s. I’m sure they will find it a happy and welcoming place. Louise Winburn is taking six weeks and Moya Beltz will be on leave for two weeks.
Sunday in the Church calendar was the Feast of the Body of Christ. Pope Francis in a homily for the occasion, drew us to one key phrase: In the Gospel you have just heard, there is an expression of Jesus that always strikes me: “Give you them to eat. (Lk 9:13)” Starting from this sentence, I let myself be guided by three words: discipleship, fellowship and sharing.
He then went on to challenge us around these words. In our busy world, lots of us often manage the fellowship and the sharing at some level, but miss the discipleship. Where is your challenge in Pope Francis’ words?
If we had a fraction of the faith in you that you have in us then this world would be transformed, Lord.
If we showed a fraction of the love that you show to us then this world would be transformed, Lord.
If we possessed a fraction of the patience that you display with us then this world would be transformed, Lord.
If we shared just a portion of the blessings that we have received from you then this world would be transformed, Lord.
If we showed as much trust in others as you have shown in us then this world would be transformed, Lord.
If we claimed just a fraction of the power you promised to your Church then this world would be transformed, Lord.
Transform us first, Lord, that we might transform this world through your love and your power.
May 18, 2016
Dear parents and families,
Thanks to all the parents and carers who have taken part in our Annual Survey. The College started this process last year and we get standardised and comparative data back from parents, students and staff. Before I took up the role of Principal, I was given access to the surveys which are benchmarked with Catholic schools around Australia. They really were glowing endorsements of St Mary’s College. In coming newsletters, I will report on some of the findings this year and report any significant variance from last year.
This week we farewell Kim Staples from Year 1 Penguins. Kim has been an asset to St Mary’s and we will miss her. We wish her well. We are in the process of finalising Kim’s replacement and will notify Penguin parents hopefully this week.
On the weekend, lots of St Mary’s students made their Confirmation at the Cathedral. It was lovely to recognise these students and we were only able to do so if they had let their class teacher know. Please do contact the College if your child is preparing for a sacrament so we can support them as they do and celebrate with them.
There are some great learning activities happening around St Mary’s. Year 4 – 8 are embarking on a spelling assistance program, Years 9 and 10 students are participating in a Science and Engineering challenge and Year 3 are making exquisite Klimt inspired images of Mary. A good way to get around the ‘Nothing’ answer to ‘What did you do at school today?’ is to ask closed questions to begin – What did you read today? Who did you play with at lunch time? What were your top three experiences today?
There are many advantages of being an inner city school, but the obvious drawback is traffic. More than just an annoyance, it is a safety issue of which we need to be very mindful. The heritage listing on Harrington Street prevents St Mary’s College from using it as a solution to traffic flow and Brisbane Street has no physical possibility of a drop-off zone than what is in place. In the interests of safety and respect, could all parents please follow the signed requirements. This includes not parking in or across our neighbours’ drive ways and avoiding using Patrick Street and St Virgil’s accommodation. The suggestion made from a group of parents discussing the issue was to park a couple of blocks away and walk your child over. Older students can walk themselves using the traffic lights to cross roads. Whatever your solution, please make safety and respect paramount, and to the vast majority of parents who have been doing that all along!
Our building plans are on display in the Reception area. They are now due to start building in July but are confident we can begin our academic year with the project complete.
I know the P&F are about to launch into preparations for The Fair. For new families, the St Mary’s Fair emerged from a hiatus last year and was, by all accounts, a fantastic community day. I would encourage you to be involved and enjoy the lively spirit and joy of working together to make something of nothing!
When I was a little girl, I used to love Pentecost Sunday which has just past. Invariably I got to colour in flames at school! I still do like colouring in, but I now realise that Pentecost is about seeing the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s quite a challenging theological concept. Pope Francis cuts to the chase: ‘The Holy Spirit cannot make us “virtual” Christians who are not virtuous. The Holy Spirit makes real Christians. The Spirit takes life as it is and prophetically reads the signs of the times pushing us forward…’
May 4, 2016
Dear parents and families,
The Parent Voice
I was really pleased for the valuable perspective shared by parents and carers at our recent forum for parents to help us write our strategic plan. It is clear that our community and pastoral care are great strengths of the College. We are working to address our communication, particularly with families, but I understand there is ongoing need. Please be assured we are aware of it and working on it. If you were unable to attend, you may wish to participate in our annual Parent Satisfaction survey available through the College website. I would be very appreciative if you could find 10 minutes to complete this survey. It is the same survey as last year and we will use it into the future so we can benchmark responses and get some real feedback about whether we are making progress or not. I am always happy to hear from parents. I am not too busy and it isn’t taking me away from my work – it is my work!
The College Leadership Team is spending two days this week developing our Strategic Planning. If you were unable to attend the recently held Parent Forum, can I ask that you forward to my Personal Assistant, Lisa O’Brien-Spaulding, (firstname.lastname@example.org) details of the College’s strengths and weaknesses. I am happy to also hear of any ‘crazy ideas’ you may have.
2017 Enrolments season is upon us! Kinder enrolments close this Friday 6 May. It is great to see that we are at capacity in most year groups. Occasionally, we do place students in classes that are full as we consider each enrolment in the context of the family and their circumstances. In general, our class sizes are comparatively smaller than many schools. It is also interesting to note that a meta-analysis of research into class size by John Hattie, a guru in Australian educational research, showed class size is not a factor that affects learning. It’s been very affirming to have received interest in Year 11 and 12 enrolments for which forms are not yet due.
Last week we had a lock down practice. This is a requirement of schools these days. Our minds instantly go to worst case scenarios when we mention lockdowns, but it is important to recognise that they may be called for a range of events. It could be there is a traffic accident adjacent to school, or an electrical fault, or a predicted weather event. We need to continue to practice ‘locking down’ the College so that students know how to respond if we need to call one. Students are not permitted to use mobiles in such a situation. Parents are requested to see this in the context of a thousand people on site and what would happen if a thousand text messages went out and a thousand parents responded by coming to collect their child! Imagine we were in lock down because of a traffic accident and we just attracted 1,000 extra cars into the precinct. Our practice went well, and we will likely practice again soon.
NAPLAN commences next week for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. These tests were designed to provide information to teachers about individual students so as to know where to target their teaching to ensure all students have the opportunity to meet national standards. They seem to have moved a long way away from those initial ideas. Please keep them in perspective: they offer a snap shot on a particular day. I remember a mother talking to me a few years ago about how poorly her son did on the numeracy test. She was really worried and the results were not reflective of how he was performing with school assessment. She decided to talk to him about it and he said ‘Oh don’t worry mum. I left my glasses at home the day we did that test!’
There are lots of events coming up in the College. The Mother’s Day Breakfast being organised by the Year 12 Prefects is one we are particularly proud of. Year 12 are inviting their mums or a significant person into have breakfast with them on Wednesday 4 May. I am also pretty excited about the Year 9 and 10 Engineering Challenge!
Congratulations to Ali Canning and her family on the recent birth of her son, Thomas! We welcome Thomas to the St Mary’s community and wish him all of life’s blessings. We have welcomed new staff members commencing in Term 2: Jessica Lewis in Visual Arts, David Noble teaching Year 4, and Karen O’Reilly (part-time Payroll Officer) who will commence late May. Before the next newsletter goes out we will farewell Kim Staples from Year 1 Penguins. Kim’s time with us has been greatly valued by her class and their parents, and her colleagues have benefited from Kim’s obvious passion for education. We thank Kim and wish her well.
It is said Mary is beyond cultures and at the same time she is of a specific culture at a specific time. It is good to examine our own image of Mary and determine where it came from and what it reflects.
April 6, 2016
Dear parents and families
I continue to be amazed and impressed at the heartfelt place St Mary’s holds in the community. In the past fortnight I have met lots of St Mary’s College Alumni, or St Virgil’s Alumni who took classes here. I’ve met people whose parents taught here and parents whose adult children are Alumni. They have all spoken with an unequivocal love of St Mary’s College. It reminds me of how the life of a school goes way beyond the boundaries of time and space. As a new member of the St Mary’s community, I am finding myself in the position of welcoming new families as I meet with prospective Year 7 and 11 students. It’s quite a responsibility to present the great tradition of the College but I am endeavouring to do so. I recognise this is our shared responsibility as members of this blessed learning community to do so.
Another aspect of the enrolment meetings that I am very much enjoying, is talking to girls about what it might be like to come to a school where they are in an all-girls class. Some who have had a tour have noted the difference between their own Year 6 or Year 10 experience contrasted with St Mary’s. Walking through the College there is definitely a keen sense of focus on learning and fostering the strength of young women.
For religious, organisational and sporting reasons, Term 1 is always a busy place in a Catholic school. We have finished 10 big weeks on Friday and I know the students will appreciate the break from school. I overheard a mum talking about the upcoming holidays exclaiming it will be lovely to have a break from remembering library books and notes and the like. It’s probably not quite so appealing if your school aged child is fairly autonomous! Nonetheless it is good for young people and children to wind down during holidays. Anxiety is a condition that seems to be more and more prominent among young people, and using holidays to manage wellbeing can be an important element of managing it. I would like to take the opportunity to particularly congratulate Kindergarten, Year 7 and Year 11 students for completing their first terms of their new stage of schooling. For each, it has been a learning curve and may still continue to be so as the year progresses.
I would like to thank the staff who have worked hard in this first term to establish the year. I have a relative, that no matter when she sees me she says ‘you must be on holidays soon’, which I always take as a little dig about the holidays teachers get. Sometimes I challenge her and ask her to trade jobs – she’s not interested! She doesn’t acknowledge either, the time beyond 8.30am-3.30pm that teachers put into their work. Working in a school is an absolute blessing, but just like the students, the staff are tired by the end of a term. I sometimes think it is the constant management of relationships that makes us this way. It could also be the camps, the co-curricular activities, the marking, the preparation, and the personal investment in 25 to 200 young lives! Thank you SMC staff for a terrific term! And thanks too, to you as parents, for the partnership you have with us and all that entails. It’s the night before costuming, or the model for a project, or getting up for rowing training, or listening to the reader, or the communication with a teacher. As a College we are very appreciative of the positive partnerships we have between families and the school at St Mary’s.
I’m sharing a beautiful prayer by an Australian; a deeply spiritual writer and artist, Noel Davis. It might help us all focus on the blessing of school holidays as well as the beautiful place in which we live.
A sitting down place
Slow me down.
Hold me still in Your arms.
Empty me of all
that is not You
and fill me with Your love.
Make my heart Your home
a wide and patient land
where time hangs around
and distance is never too far
where we can sit around a fire
and tell stories
that draw close our lives.
March 23, 2016
Dear parents and families,
Holy Week is the time in the Church year leading up to Good Friday and ultimately, Easter Sunday. For Christians, it is an intense time of prayer and reflection. It is often a time when Catholics receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and should you wish to do so, every Catholic parish will have a time or times this week. Reconciliation is about acknowledging our humanity and its frailty, and the great mercy and love of God. In taking part in Reconciliation (which used to be called confession) we can prepare ourselves for Easter Sunday, the start of the new Church year, when we celebrate the hope of the risen Christ. On Holy Thursday we will come together as a College community to pray the Stations of the Cross where we recount when Jesus was condemned to death right up to the laying of his body in the tomb.
Today we celebrated Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day. More and more so, students’ grandparents are St Mary’s Alumni. We welcomed all grandparents and grandparent-figures into our College today and celebrate their wisdom and the special place of their lives in our students’ families.
Senior students had a lovely time last week spent on retreat or on Year 9 camp. It is these events that help students make meaning of their lives and become the memories of tomorrow. Thanks to families for supporting the College in running such a great program and to the staff for sometimes stepping outside their comfort zone to deliver for students.
A collection of Year 8 students participated in St Mary’s first Da Vinci Decathlon. The competition promotes divergent thinking across a range of areas including Science, Art and Maths. Our students did very well and had a great time. They are keen that we send a team to Melbourne for national try-outs. If we can’t do it this year, we will try and organise it for next year.
We’ve had some great sporting results from our softballers and rowers that you can read about below.
The College Leadership Team is working on a Strategic Plan for 2017 onwards. A large part of the process will be gathering “data” from parents, students, staff and alumni. There will be surveys in the second week of next term for all groups, but I would also like to invite parents to participate in a group process to reflect on St Mary’s and to consider our future aspirations for this great College. Parents are invited to come to the School Resource Centre on Monday 4 April at 6.00pm-7.00pm.
I hope families can find some time over Easter to talk about the sacredness of Easter and the joy and hope of the Risen Christ.
Love poured out on that cruel cross,
a blood offering so we might go free.
Love poured out, infusing this world
with rivers of grace and hope of rebirth.
Love poured out, and into these hearts,
who drink from a stream that never runs dry
[on Sunday we say]
Alleluia! Jesus is risen!
He is risen indeed!
March 09, 2016
Dear Parents and carers,
As I write, it is International Women’s Day (IWD). We are blessed in Australia, where equality is enshrined in law, but it would be neglectful to forget the advocates that fought long and hard for this to happen. It would also be remiss if we didn’t recognise the scourge of domestic violence in Australia as being an issue related to gender. It is important as adults that we are explicit with our young women and girls in our messages about their intrinsic worth, dignity and capacity. Healthy relationships are based on a premise of mutual value and respect. Messages that objectify and or sexualise young women and girls need to be challenged. In Australia, IWD is in part, about galvanising a voice for genuine equality. St Mary’s College is hosting an IWD breakfast this week as part of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools. Twenty students from each of the girls’ schools in Hobart will be invited to hear author Rachel Edwards share her experiences and thoughts on gender equality.
Parents and Friends
The Parents and Friends Association organised a lovely event to welcome new parents to the College early this week. It was great to see connections being made and a warm welcome genuinely extended. It struck me that this was a real living out of our Presentation value of hospitality. Thanks to the parents who organised the event, particularly Jo Messer, and the P&F and the new parents who attended. The P&F is a great way to get involved in the St Mary’s community, and an avenue that seems to be acceptable to the growingly-reclusive, self-conscious adolescent that wouldn’t be seen dead with their parents!
At a staff meeting this week, we were graced with the wisdom and experience of Dr Gary McDarby. Gary is an internationally renowned neuroscientist and a St Mary’s parent. He spoke to the staff passionately about the need for education to provide opportunities for deep learning and reflection. He quoted Einstein who was well ahead of his time in all things. Einstein realised well before Google, that studying anything you could ‘look up’ was a waste of educational time. Gary inspired us in our core business of learning and we are grateful for his generosity.
As the warmth of summer continues, we have had some lovely times in the water of late. We’ve had the Big Splash and the STPSSA and SSATIS swimming, and the rowers have been to Lake Barrington to compete state-wide. It is heartening to see both the breadth of involvement and the depth of commitment that these students have embraced. Our thanks to the many staff and parents who have supported our young people and children in these events.
We are hoping to commence our building plan in coming months. We have had a delay to the start of the project but anticipate it might begin in late April. Once the final plans have had the all clear from the authorities, we will make sure they are on display for families to view. It goes without saying the safety aspect of having a building site on campus has been thoroughly thought through.
One of the realities of schools is the possibility of head lice. Unfortunately, it happens and the likelihood of it spreading is near impossible to mitigate. I appreciate it can be disconcerting after going through the whole rigmarole of treatment and the washing of linen and towels for the whole family, only to have it come back again. It is good practice to be proactive and regularly check your child’s hair. Here is a great article about nits with handy tips and links to fact sheets. We all know head lice has nothing to do with a lack of cleanliness or care. Please tell your child’s teacher if your child or their sibling has nits and we will send out an alert so we can work together to minimise its spread.
Student free day
Date change: We had calendared a student-free day on May 20 in Term 2. We have reorganised our program and school at St Mary’s College will proceed as usual.
In this time of Lent, we pray for ourselves and for all people.
The journeys of our lives are never fully charted. There come to each of us deserts to cross—barren stretches—where the green edge on the horizon may be our destination, or an oasis on our way, or a mirage that beckons only to leave us lost.
When fear grips the heart, or despair bows the head, may we bend as heart and head lead us down to touch the ground beneath our feet. May we scoop some sand into our hands and receive what the sand would teach us:
It holds the warmth of the sun when the sun has left our sight, as it holds the cool of the night when the stars have faded. Hidden among its grains are tiny seeds, at rest and waiting, dormant yet undefeated.
Desert flowers. They endure. Moistened by our tears and by the rains which come to end even the longest drought, they send down roots and they bloom.
May we believe in those seeds, and in the seeds within us. May we remember in our dry seasons that we, too, are desert flowers. Amen.
Margaret A Keip
February 24, 2016
Dear St Mary’s Families,
It’s been a big fortnight at St Mary’s! We are still in the beginning phase of the year and many of our activities have been focused on the newness of the year. Today, we undertook our second ‘Belling-in’, where continuing students and staff welcomed all of the new students to our community. This new ritual is the prequel to the Belling-out where the College farewells its graduands at the end of the year. The Belling-in is a wonderful example of our community living out one of our touchstones, Hospitality.
Yesterday we held our Leadership Commissioning. We commissioned our Board, the Staff, our Prefects and Student Leaders and our Year 12 students. We welcomed Tom Dorey back and had a symbolised passing of leadership as he handed The Lamp over to me. I am humbled and honoured beyond measure by a most privileged role of Principal of such a fine College.
Last Friday we held the Welcome to the Senior School Dinner for Year 10 students. The Prefects for Senior Academics Sian Prior and Sophie Parthenios (Year 12) welcomed the Year 10s and gave them some sage advice. Year 10 looked AbFab but more importantly, spent the whole night dancing with great joy and unity. I have never been to such a positive and enjoyable Year 10 celebration in my many years of teaching. Thanks to Clinton Jordan, the Year Coordinators and the Home Room teachers for organising the event and being present. There will be photos featured in the next edition of the fountain.
Our Prep students have all undergone a PIPS assessment which is a state-wide program establishing early literacy and numeracy skills. Sometimes we can get a bit caught up in academic performance and parents want their children to be doing well. Learning is a continuum. The important thing is that children and young people constantly move across the continuum, and enjoy learning and gain independent learning skills along the way. At the opening assembly some students were a bit shocked when I told them that in any group measuring anything that is variable (height, shoe size, reading ability, tap-dancing capacity) half of the group will be below the group average. Let’s not measure learning by the group average. Let’s foster engagement and continual improvement.
Year 3-6 students got together at Clarence Pool and participated in the Swimming Carnival. It was a noisy and happy event which involved a very high participation rate. Thanks to Georgina Harris and the Junior School team for their preparations and the many family members who came to spectate. Our Senior School swimmers had their trials last week and this event was also well attended.
Our rowers had their first event for 2016 at Franklin last weekend. Conditions were favourable and for our Year 7s they experienced their first regatta. There were some noteworthy competitors and a huge thanks to the parents and club for enabling such a positive event for the St Mary’s rowers.
We have welcomed a number of parents into the College to our Parent Information Evenings and these will continue in the coming fortnight. Thank you to parents who have made themselves available to come and meet their child’s teacher and strengthen our home-school partnership. Thanks also to the staff who have made themselves available for these evenings.
We held the first Parents and Friends meeting of the year. Stay tuned for the Entertainment Book. We would be very appreciative if you made the SMC Entertainment Book your book of choice! The P&F are holding a welcome to new parents on the College Green on Tuesday 7 March. It is a casual, pop-in type of event and we are hoping to be overwhelmed by the many new families to St Mary’s.
We welcome Emma Zeeman onto our staff. Emma brings with her considerable expertise and joins the Lantern Program in the senior school.
Many families would know Tammy Carlton from their enrolment into the College. Tammy is going on maternity leave on Friday and we wish her every happiness and blessing in the time ahead.
It’s Lent. Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter; a Christian time for prayer, fasting and alms-giving. It is a time where we acknowledge our God, our frailty in the world and our gratitude for all we have.
Here is the beginning of a prayer by Lao Tzo (c.604 – 531 BCE), a Chinese Philosopher:
‘If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is to be peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.’
May Mary our model and guide, pray for us.
February 10, 2016
Dear St Mary’s Families,
It is my great privilege to welcome continuing families back to the academic year and welcome new families to this rich and spiritual educational community. For the new families, I should point out that I am new myself! I can say that I have only experienced warmth and hospitality and I feel so blessed. I am sure your experience at St Mary’s will be the same.
This last week I have met with the junior school and the senior school. There is great positivity and vibrancy among the students. They have pride in themselves and St Mary’s and they seem genuinely happy to be here. This is a strong platform from which to excel. When I spoke with the Senior School, I challenged them to take personal responsibility for their own learning and invest time in making goals and working towards them. The higher students get in the school, the more critical is their commitment to effort in and time spent studying.
I had the pleasure to meet with some of the St Mary’s Alumni Committee last week too. I was so taken with how invested they continue to be in St Mary’s College and their solidarity with current students. I am looking forward to continuing to forge this powerful network of present and past scholars.
Speaking of past scholars, our Year 12 Class of 2015 came back for an afternoon tea hosted by our current Year 12 students. It was lovely to see them happy and engaged in life after school. It’s worth noting that 95% of them earned their Tasmanian Certificate of Education, which is against a state-wide average of something like 55%. As a group, the students who attained ATARs did a fantastic job! 40% of these students got in the top 15% of Australian ATARs. 30% made it into Australia’s top 10% and nearly 10% achieved Australia’s top 5%! As a new member of staff I can take no credit, but happily, I can highlight for families, without fear of boasting, that these results indicate an excellent work and aspiration culture among our senior cohort and highly capable teachers. Congratulations to all involved!
It would be most appropriate at this point to mention Mr Tom Dorey. I know the St Mary’s community has thanked Tom, but I would like to publically acknowledge my gratitude for Tom’s gracious and steadfast handing over to me. He could not have set me up any better and I feel very blessed to have worked with him in the time of transition. I look forward to working with Tom as he has taken up the role of Executive to our Governing Council and I wish him every success.
Today is Ash Wednesday, an ancient Christian event which marks the beginning of Lent. I’ve included here a beautiful piece of writing that provides an inspiring guide for us all. It has some old language in it, but its overall message is clear. What will your family feast on this Lent?
Feast vs. Fast this Lent
- Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
- Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life.
- Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
- Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
- Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
- Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
- Fast from anger; feast on patience.
- Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
- Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
- Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
- Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
- Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
- Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
- Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
- Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
- Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
- Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.
- Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
- Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
- Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
- Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
- Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
- Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.
– William Arthur Ward (American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994)
Please keep in your prayers our families who lost loved ones or were faced with challenges over the break.
May our loving God bless us.