My Education Patch

A principal reflecting on life at St Brigid's Primary School

St. Brigid’s Day 2017

St. Brigid’s School celebrated Catholic Education Week focusing on the distinctive nature of a Catholic school and our mission to share our faith with others.  

St. Brigid’s Feast Day is February 1st, however this year our students did not commence the school year until February 2nd.  As St. Brigid’s Feast Day is meaningful to the whole school community we decided to celebrate this special occasion during Catholic Education Week.

The day commenced with prayer and we were thrilled to welcome Dr. Rose Duffy, who is a Brigidine Sister and Spiritual and Faith Formation Leader from the Catholic Education Office in Sale, to share her knowledge of St. Brigid focusing on St. Brigid’s example to us showing us how we can be people of compassion, generous toward those in need and welcoming to all. Dr. Rose Duffy is an inspiration to us all and has been a very popular visitor to our school since our opening in 2010.  We thank Dr. Duffy for her willingness to spend time with us and share her vast insights with our community.

St. Brigid always helped those in need and would often give her family’s belonging to others who needed them more.  She handed out bread, butter, eggs and chickens from her father’s dairy farm. She could not bear to see anyone hungry or cold. Inspired by her generosity, our Mini Vinnies Team have been asking for donations of warm, clean and wearable clothing to support the St. Vincent de Paul Winter Appeal. Students were also invited to wear free dress for a gold coin donation to add to the fundraising for St. Vincent de Paul Society.

The students participated in a variety of learning experiences in their Sports House Teams: Delany, Tullow, Kildare and Leinster. A sausage sizzle lunch was provided with the assistance of the Social and Fundraising Committee and in the afternoon students participated in tabloid sports.

The celebration of St. Brigid’s Day is a fun day we all look forward to and this year was no exception.

Catholic Education Week 2017

Our school, along with 42 other Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sale, will celebrate Catholic Education Week from Friday, April 28th to Friday, May 5th 2017. The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘Unity in Diversity’. This week is a very special week for our school, parish and local community and is given great importance on the Catholic Education calendar.  

The week will commence with a Leadership Mass and Dinner that brings together Catholic Education Office staff, Priests and members of the parishes and Catholic schools and their leaders in the Sale Diocese to pray and share our achievements while celebrating what it means for us to be part of the Catholic community in the Diocese of Sale.

The goal of Catholic Education Week is to communicate and celebrate the distinctive mission of Catholic education in the Diocese of Sale. It is an opportunity to celebrate and promote not only the great work being done in our schools, but also our wonderful Catholic ethos.

As Catholic schools, we are called to do more than just pass on the faith: we are invited to translate our faith into deeds so we are truly living God’s word.

St. Brigid’s School community will be celebrating St. Brigid’s Day on Friday, May 5th to conclude our celebrations and learning experiences that will focus on our challenge to consider how we might work to reveal Jesus Christ to others and encourage them and ourselves to come to know Him more deeply.

St Brigid was a person who had great compassion for others and helped the sick and poor. She could not bear to see anyone cold or hungry. In the tradition of St. Brigid, our school, through the help of our Social Justice Leaders launched a ‘Mini Vinnies’ Appeal to assist those less fortunate than ourselves.  We are asking our community for donations of warm clothing that is clean and wearable to assist those in need.

 

 

 

Enrolment for Foundation Year 2018

The enrolment process for Foundation Year can often be a daunting time for parents, especially first time school parents. The transition process from kindergarten to school is an extremely important time in a child’s life.

The Enrolment for existing families of St. Brigid’s School community will open on Monday, March 27th.

Places are firstly allocated to families who already have a child enrolled at St. Brigid’s, however after the closing date of applications from existing families all places will be available to those meeting our enrolment criteria. The closing date for existing families is Wednesday, April 26th 2017.

The Enrolment process for all students new to St. Brigid’s School opens on Thursday, April 27th 2017.

There will be two Open Days as follows:

  • Thursday, April 27th 2017 from 9.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, May 2nd 2017 from 9.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.

If you are not available to attend our school during these Open days, please feel free to contact the school office to arrange a suitable time to meet with me and tour our school.

Applications for enrolment into Foundation Year 2018 for all new families to St. Brigid’s close on Friday, June 2nd 2017.

Once we have received your completed Enrolment Application, in order to continue further, we will invite you and your child to attend a personal interview.

A formal letter of acceptance of Enrolment will be sent to parents with all relevant information and details of our orientation process that is aimed at providing positive experiences of school, which usually commence in October/November.

It is important for us to work closely with parents to ensure our young students are well prepared for school and feel secure and comfortable in their new surroundings. Generally, our Foundation teachers will visit the pre-school teachers to make the transition to school life as smooth as possible.  This helps us understand our students and take steps to meet their individual needs as they progress to formal primary education.

Staff at St. Brigid’s have a shared vision: ‘St. Brigid’s is a Catholic community where children know they are valued and experience the love of God in an engaging and contemporary learning environment.’ Our school motto of Knowledge|Strength|Faith|Hospitality is a reminder of the attributes of St. Brigid that guide our school community.

We recommend parents visit our school with your child at available opportunities. The more informed and familiar you and your child are with our school environment the more successful the transition to school will be.

For parents wishing to access Before School and After School Care, Camp Australia is our provider. This service is available at St. Brigid’s School in our Multipurpose Hall that is fully equipped and has kitchen facilities.

St. Brigid’s accepts enrolments for all levels throughout the year. Acceptance of new students depends on places being available within the structure of the Learning Communities and meeting our enrolment criteria.

School Vegetable Garden

The first thought behind the establishment of our school vegetable garden was to reach out to our parish community and to provide fresh produce to people in our parish and wider community who were going through a difficult time, whether that be through financial hardship or illness.  Hopefully as our garden flourishes and starts to produce we are able to accomplish this.

The benefits of introducing the school vegetable garden are many but not limited to:

  • Reinforcing St. Brigid’s culture of sustainability and increasing the students’ awareness of the benefits of composting and recycling to deal with waste.
  • Assisting in helping students make healthy lifestyle choices and embrace healthy eating through learning to grow their own food.
  • Expanding the students’ knowledge and experience of different foods.
  • Observing the life cycle of a seed through to harvest.
  • Having a context for understanding the seasons and observing how they effect growth and change.
  • Giving meaning to and promoting the understanding that as stewards of creation we all have a responsibility to look after and care for our environment.
  • Providing opportunities to connect with the wider community.

One of the most pleasing developments that has arisen is the introduction of our Garden Club which is an extra curricula activity offered to students during lunch time most Wednesday’s and on a Thursday. There is considerable student support for this club during lunch time and I am sure there will be added interest now that we have two new feathery additions to the garden space.

Last Thursday we introduced two Pekin bantams. They are called Maisie and Daisy and they are very cute and friendly. Pekin bantams are known for their pet like friendliness and I am sure once they have settled into their new environment the children will be able to get to know them and have lots of fun looking after them.

The desire and commitment from staff, parents and students have seen our garden come to fruition.  We have been fortunate to have the support from Cardinia Council ‘Beyond the Bin” program which focuses on waste and sustainability.  We have 3 compost bins and a worm farm and our learning communities separate their waste into general waste, paper recycling and compost. A special thank you to Bunnings who have been fantastic in their advice and donations.

Our parent support has been amazing with the initial set up of the fences and gate, the building and painting of our raised garden beds, donations, sourcing our Chicken Coop and building a fox proof run, mulching and weeding. Thank you everyone, in particular, the Andrews family and Deayton Family.

The school vegetable garden is only one small part of our Science and Sustainability specialist classes. We have a rich and diverse science curriculum that encompasses inquiry into a wide variety of areas outlined in the Victoria Curriculum guidelines.

I would like to acknowledge the effort of our former Science and Sustainability specialist teacher, Mrs Ferris for her work to develop our school garden from the ground up and the preparation and planning of the Science and Sustainability curriculum from Foundation to Year 6 in its first year. This year Mrs. Ferris has taken on a senior classroom teaching role, however, she continues to have a keen interest and is active in this area. We welcome Mrs Winder into the role this year.

 

St. Brigid’s Playgroup

We are very pleased to be able to offer a playgroup at our school.  Playgroup is a great way for parents and children to meet new people and make friends in a relaxed and friendly environment. The benefits for the children are many. Play provides the opportunity to learn, experience different things, investigate and interact with others. Playgroup provides this opportunity in a setting that is away from the child’s normal home environment. They learn how to play together and share things with others.

Parents are able to interact with other parents and share their ideas. Coming along to Playgroup helps parents have a sense of connectedness to a community will having fun and building social networks.

We encourage you to come along and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while the children play. Playgroup runs every Tuesday during the school term from 8.45 a.m. and is aimed at parents with pre-school children.  There is a $2.00 charge per family to cover insurance.

We thank Megan, one of our school parents, who coordinates our Playgroup.

A Great Start to the School Year

St. Brigid’s has had a very successful start to the school year.  It is so pleasing to see all the enthusiastic faces and the genuine thrill of our students seeing their friends again.  Our Foundation students have settled well and are eager to commence their primary school journey. Foundation Year parents attended an information session that outlined expectations and gave general information designed to assist with the transition to school life. From the feedback received on the night and the following day, the session was welcomed and most useful.   We have amazing teachers throughout all levels of the school who are eager for their students to settle quickly into the class/level routine and who are always happy to address any queries or uncertainties as they arise.

An opportunity is given to our parents to meet with their child’s homeroom teacher. These meetings are very valuable to student learning. Good parent-teacher relationships are vital for a child’s positive attitude toward school life and impacts on their learning, social groups and ultimately their success.  Research shows that if the teachers and the school are supported at home then the students are more willing to focus on learning and get the best out of every opportunity presented to them.

Our Parish Priest, Fr. Jeff celebrated an Opening School Year Mass for us and once again is was very lovely to see so many parents, grandparents and a great grandparent join us for this special occasion.  Celebrating together in this way is an important part of what makes us a Catholic school. We are a parish school who seeks to draw our school family into the community of the Church in an inclusive and welcoming way.

Students in their class groupings have elected their representative for the Student Representative Council (SRC). We congratulate these students who have been elected by their peers and trust they will represent their classmates in a positive and productive way.

The first of our school assemblies will be coming up shortly and our Senior Learning Community will be leading us in prayer and presenting their learning. Our assemblies are a great way to celebrate together and acknowledge student achievement. As a general rule, we have three assemblies for each term led by each our Learning Communities (Junior, Middle and Senior Learning Communities).

Beginning the 2017 School Year

Welcome to the 2017 School Year.

Staff commenced on Monday focused and well prepared for the Term ahead. The school day does not allow for all the work that is needed for teachers to plan, prepare and collaborate and much work was undertaken in their own time during the school holidays to ensure that they have a rich curriculum and vibrant learning spaces that encourage our students to be engaged and motivated to learn.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week have been assessment days where the teachers met with students on a one to one basis and administered a range of assessments to provide valuable data on student knowledge and their personal learning journey so teachers are able to teach to their point of need.

I am very much looking forward to greeting everyone as they commence this new school year and especially our new foundation students who begin their formal schooling for the first time. It is a time of great expectation and anticipation of what is to come and I am sure they will settle very quickly. I trust our first time school parents will cope with the separation and look forward to hearing all about the school day at the end of the day.

I have met with many new families wishing to enrol new students across all levels of the school. I welcome these students and hope, they too, settle into their new environment quickly and form new friendships. Our school zone is continually growing and our catchment area is developing immediately around us.

We are grateful to the families and students who have supported and embraced our school as a place where together we can explore, create and contribute as we navigate our way through the journey of life.

This year our school newsletter to our families will be made private and only accessed through a personal password login. The privacy of our students, parents and school is crucial to maintaining good communication and it is essential for the school to be able to confidently provide vital information that others may not access and use for means that it is not intended for. We believe the newsletter is not for the general public, those not related to the school, to view, comment on, copy or reproduce.

I will endeavour to continue to provide information on the general happenings of our school in the educational landscape on my blog throughout the year.

 

 

End of the 2016 School Year

It has been a truly wonderful end to the 2016 school year and a pleasure to see so many celebrate with us at our recent carols night and at Mass followed by morning tea last Thursday.

It is such a blessing to all of us when we see the growth and change that has occurred in our students over the year.  As a Catholic school our education is faithful to the tradition and teachings of the Church and follows the ideals of St. Brigid of Knowledge, Strength, Faith, and Hospitality. We, students and their families, friends and staff, have all worked to make the Kingdom of God present to our community and through God’s grace and guidance we have been enriched not just in our spirit and intellect but in our hearts.

This year has been one of tremendous growth both in the students and in our school. We have introduced more rigorous data collection to enable teachers to have more assessment tools in order to continue to differentiate their teaching according to students needs.

Our student data shows much development in student learning and data collection from parents obtained through external means has shown fabulous parent support for our school.

The Catholic Education Office has been supportive of our school and together with schools across the diocese they introduced collectives which are designed to focus on a particular area of the curriculum. At St. Brigid’s we had an emphasis on mathematics this year and met regularly with our cluster schools from Narre Warren, Berwick and Officer, to engage in learning initiatives with the premise of schools improving schools. Learning and Teaching collegial networks were introduced by the Catholic Education Office to assist with unpacking the new Victoria Curriculum for implementation next year.

As I mentioned in my address at the Thanksgiving/Gratitude Mass we embarked on a journey this year with a new Parish Priest, we prayed, reflected and supported social justice through our action in Mini Vinnies, Project Compassion and St. Vincent de Paul Appeals. Through the Harmony Project we extended friendship and have dialogue with our neighbouring schools, government, private and of different faiths.  The Year 6 students have an opportunity to engage in different activities with these schools and build good relationships within our local community.

During the year we inspired each other, thought creatively as a team and expressed ourselves in many ways through sporting activities, our school concert, general school yard play and celebrations but most of all we have supported, comforted and encouraged each other. It is through the grace of God and the genuine, respectful and honest way we work with each other, the students, parents, grandparents, teachers and friends, that has brought us to the end of this year.

Although some of our students, in particular, our Year 6 Graduates and staff are moving on this year we feel blessed that each one of them have been on this journey with us here and contributed to the life of our school. I hope they will remember us fondly and set their goals that lead to a happy future that God has gifted them with.

We await the beginning of the 2017 school year with anticipation and look forward to continuing our educational journey next year and beyond and we thank you all for your wonderful support this year.

Until then may the love of God bring you all peace, joy, hope and love this Christmas.

merry-christmas

 

 

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Self Confidence

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”

Helen Keller

We have come to the end of the first semester of the year and will commence Term 3 next week. Having read through all our student mid year reports I am extremely pleased with the progress each student has made.

Not only have they grown in their academic ability but many have also grown in their self confidence. Self Confidence comes from having a good sense of self awareness and knowing who you are and what your positive qualities are.

We all have things we don’t necessarily like about ourselves. It could be something about how we look, our height, our weight, our hair or lack of, not being as good at sport or an activity as we would like. Accepting that we are all different and unique and concentrating on all our positive qualities can lead to self acceptance and in turn self confidence. 

Fear is the most common emotion that holds us back from being confident. Everyone has strengths, talents and weaknesses but everyone is valuable. Start with your strongest talents. Recognise what you are good at and try to build on those things. Finding something you are passionate about can be a useful way of building confidence in your abilities and reaffirming your self worth.

Let us be resolute in our approach for next Term and the second semester. Build our confidence and each others confidence by:

  • Having a strong connectedness to school
  • Using positive talk with each other
  • Affirming others for their strengths and talents
  • Surrounding yourself with people who are positive and uplifting
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Looking for the good that can come from every situation as opposed to the negative
  • Reading inspirational books
  • Listening to uplifting music
  • Taking positive action and embracing challenges
  • Being creative. When doubt creeps in be creative and take your mind of things
  • Taking up a hobby and committing to giving it a go
  • Being a volunteer, helping others as this gives us purpose and is empowering by knowing you can have an impact on those around you.
  • Taking action

Shoulders back and walk a little taller!

 

 

Sunflowers

In December 2015, during the Orientation process for Foundation Year 2016 the young children were given a pot with a sunflower seedling planted in it and they were asked to look after it over the Christmas holidays. We were hoping that each plant would flourish and grow tall and strong so the children could see just how much they had grown and were ready to begin their primary schooling.

Seeing photos of one of our foundation students with her strong, tall sunflower in full bloom made me think of a connection between home and school that we do not often think about.

When we plant a seed or seedling we have great hope that it will grow and flourish into an excellent plant, flower or vegetable. We ensure that we provide the right conditions for it to grow. The correct soil type and right texture for the plant’s drainage. We place it in a suitable position, we water it and make sure it is protected from damaging winds or too much sun or rain. 

It is the same when we bring a precious child into the world. We make sure that everything is perfect for them and provide an environment where they will develop and grow into the wonderful children we hope they will be.

They begin their life journey in a beautifully appointed nursery and as they grow and start to walk they have the freedom of the home in which they live, inside and out. To ensure their safety, boundaries are set. We do not shut them away in just one room for hours but provide open spaces for them to move freely about and discover the things that are around them. When they venture off to day care and kindergarten it is the same open space they explore, interacting with others and learning to share and play together.

Our homes are more open and habitable than ever before. They are light and airy with open kitchens and living rooms. There are endless television shows describing the ‘modern’ way of living and showing us how to knock down walls in older homes to open up the living spaces for a more favourable way to live.

When it is time to commence their formal education in their primary years why then is it desirable to place our children in one room and tell them to stay put in their seat at their table? Why do we tend to put up barriers? This is quashing their natural spirit to feel ‘free’ and not hemmed in.

Like home and kindergarten St. Brigid’s has established flexible spaces with indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance their development – to give them a feeling of freedom with the necessary guidelines, rules and expectations to ensure their safety and continued growth and learning.  It is an extension of what they are used to at home. In a more relaxed environment children are nurtured and given opportunities to develop in a natural setting.

We encourage our students to explore and be curious about what is around them. We want them to learn more about their world and how to live in it. We give them some freedom to sit where they are comfortable for the particular tasks they are working on and direct our teaching to their specific needs. In this way they respond by being more engaged and actively participate. Students take more responsibility for their own learning. They are more readily able to adapt and accept change.

Tending to its needs, watering, giving it the right environment, makes the plant take root and flourish producing a wonderful bloom. Just like the sunflower, it is hoped that caring and nurturing the child at school, they too, will take comfort in their surroundings and be open to producing wonderful expressions of their learning and blossoming into active participants in our society.

Thanks again to one of our Foundation students for providing us with the lovely photos of her and the beautiful sunflower. I would also like to acknowledge our very active and capable Social and Fundraising Committee for their fantastic idea and bringing it to fruition. I am sure our new Foundation students have enjoyed seeing their little seedling grow into magnificent sunflowers.

 

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