May the true meaning of Christmas
fill your hearts and homes with joy and peace.
May your New Year be one of happiness
that lasts throughout the coming year.
While I was writing the final newsletter for the year I began to reflect on the year we have had. I am confident that there has been a tremendous amount of learning and growth in our school not only in our students but our staff as well. We have shared our gifts and talents with each other and made friendships along the way. In faith and hope we have faced the challenges that have come our way.
We have become very confident in our approach to 21st century learning and our students are engaged and motivated to learn. The End of Year Reports go home to parents this week and I urge parents to offer words of delight in their child’s progress throughout the year and encouragement to keep focused ahead for the learning journey continues and should never be stagnant.
This week our Year 6 students graduate from their primary education and move onto the next phase in their life’s journey – secondary school. They have been worthy leaders in our school this year and have taken on the leadership roles of School Captains, House Captains, members of the student Faith Team, Sustainability Team and ICT Team. Each Year 6 student has contributed to the life of St. Brigid’s in a positive and meaningful way all throughout the years have been a part of our community.
Our St. Brigid’s community is spirit filled with a warm and generous heart. Our parent community is supportive and they contribute substantially to our school, not only in raising funds but also in the way they rally together to help one another, especially those in personal need. Through their efforts we have been able to achieve a great deal for our students. Their help in the learning centres, uniform shop, excursions, camps, providing food for functions, working bees, and the overall general way they help our school is very much appreciated and we are so grateful for their time and hard work. Above all we appreciate the positive manner in which they speak about our school and the hospitality they show to others.
As we say a fond farewell to some of our staff we are delighted to be welcoming new staff for 2015. Already they have been to visit and met their students. They have also been involved in the planning and preparation for next year.
As we dwell on the ending of the year and the promise of new beginnings next year the following poem reminds us to live today well.
Look to this day
For it is life– the very life of life
In its brief course lie all
The realities and truths of existence
The joy of growth
The glory of action
The splendour of beauty
For yesterday is already a memory
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today well lived makes every
Yesterday a memory of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of
Look well, therefore, to this day.
Ancient Sanskrit Poem
Our Country and Western Fair was held last Saturday and once again it was a huge success.
The fair was successful because a great group of parents volunteered to be part of a team to prepare, plan and organise this event. Without their tremendous support it would be impossible to hold a fair. It requires a commitment from dedicated people who are prepared to meet regularly, approach organizations for donations, liaise with community groups such as the CFA, Guides, and Scouts, investigate suitable companies for rides, market stalls and food vendors and take part in extensive promotion.
Our whole school community needed to be supportive of the fair and were asked to contribute donations and their time on the day to man stalls. I am pleased to say we have a very good response.
Our school staff also took part and generously gave up their time to assist. Two of our staff members, Elyce and Leanne are involved in dancing and together with the students from the dance company performed on the day. The performers were students of St. Brigid’s school. The Master of Ceremonies for the day was a staff member who engaged the community by introducing presentations, interviewing and interacting with the crowd. Well done! Damian.
Events such as fairs or fetes are great community builders. They bring together people who are all united in working for the school community to raise funds and socialize. It builds community by the hospitality and warm welcome we show to others and the sense of purpose with everyone working together for the benefit of all.
At the end of an exhausting day the work still continues with stocktaking and evaluating the preparations and the outcome of the day. We will note the things we did well and the things we can do better for next time.
A special thank to everyone involved, especially those who went above and beyond to ensure the day was so successful and those who came along to enjoy the fair.
Our Foundation Year 2015 students have commenced the orientation process at St. Brigid’s. We recognise that starting school is an important stage for young children and their families. It has been described as, “One of the major challenges children have to face in their early childhood years.” Victorian Department of School Education, 1992, p.44.
In the eyes of a child starting school is a scary prospect. Leaving the confines of the family home and heading off to join a community where there are lots of children and adults, most of whom you do not know, and having to fit in with the school routine, lots of rules and make new friends is very daunting for a child. Kindergarten has hopefully prepared them for some of the changes in their lifestyle such as having to go to bed early to be able to get up in the morning and socializing and sharing with other children.
Starting school is also a time of excitement, anticipation and longing. Children instinctively want to learn new things, create and explore. They want to join in with other children and be more independent. As educators, we must tap into this energy and engage and motivate these young children in their learning.
We have developed an orientation process that hopefully addresses some of the anxieties children face and aim to develop effective partnerships between home and school. Regina Nelson, ‘The Social Context of Readiness’, 1995 wrote, “That it is generally the case that children who experience similar environments and expectations at home and school are likely to find the transition to school, as well as school in general, easier.” Children who find school unfamiliar and unrelated to their home life tend to be more anxious and experience difficulty.
Our orientation process has been designed to help our new Foundation students become more familiar and comfortable with our school. Our Foundation Year teachers meet with the various Kindergarten teachers and a series of school visits and activities take place that provides the opportunity for the children to be active in their learning and get to know other classmates and their teachers.
Parents are able to assist their child in this transition from kindergarten to school by establishing positive relationships with us and having honest and open communication. Allowing children to be a little more independent, carrying their own school bag and encouraging them to look after their belongings is important for getting them ready for the school routine.
We understand when a child starts school for the first time parents are also a little anxious and afraid. In an effort to provide support we have a designated Parents Retreat where parents are able to go to meet other parents who are new to the school and who are experiencing the same feeling of leaving their child in the hands of the teachers and the other parents who have already established relationships in the school community.
The transition to primary school does not end with the child starting school on the first day of the school year. The Foundation Year teachers recognise this is a long process. Establishing good relationships where the child and the teacher get to know each other, having clear guidelines and expectations and providing engaging learning experiences are paramount to successful transition.
The LOTE – Japanese program offered at St. Brigid’s from Foundation Year to Year 6 is taught by a specialist Japanese teacher. The students are immersed in the Japanese language and culture. This assists with the development of communication skills and knowledge that contributes to the development of inter-culturally aware citizens who can participate and engage in positive multicultural relationships in a global society. Research has shown that the experience of learning a second language improves our knowledge of how languages work and enhances our thinking skills.
Students are engaged in a range of activities that include but are not limited to speaking, reading, writing, listening and singing. Through comparison and reflection of the Japanese language and the development of an understanding from a different cultural perspective students come to appreciate some of the social, historical and cultural aspects associated with the Japanese people.
Last Friday our Japanese teacher facilitated a Japanese Day that began with an Opening Ceremony that included Taiko Drumming performed by students from St. Francis Xavier College, Officer. The Secondary School students welcomed the opportunity to perform for an enthusiastic audience and enjoyed the experience.
Students were invited to dress in Japanese costume, which added to the atmosphere of the day. They took part in a Fashion Parade and then moved on to activity sessions before enjoying a Sushi lunch.
The day concluded with a Closing Ceremony with presentations from each of the Learning Communities. Each group sang a song in Japanese and two of our Year 6 students sang a Japanese version of ‘Let It Go’. They were all very entertaining.
Our Year 6 students will have the opportunity to visit St. Francis Xavier College for an Immersion Program later this month. They will interact with Year 9 students who are also studying Japanese and will share experiences with each other.
Last night the students of St. Brigid’s had an opportunity to showcase their talents at our school concert ‘Danger Kids’. The concert was based on a joke and dagger musical by arrangement with Bushfire Press Pty Ltd,
They were all brilliant. Each child who participated did so enthusiastically and in return they received a fantastic applause from the audience and a true sense of accomplishment. Well done everyone!
Thank you to parents, grandparents and friends who came along to support the children, assisted with costumes and worked in the lead up to the night, and to the teachers, especially our Performing Arts Specialist, Mrs. Theresa Ray for their continued dedication to our students.
Today we turn our thoughts to the fever that envelopes Melbourne at this time of every year – yes Footy Finals! Sadly my AFL team, Richmond, is no longer in the finals having lost in the first round of the finals series. My Rugby League team, Melbourne Storm, has also been eliminated. There is always hope for next year. My soccer team Melbourne City will cheer me up once their season gets underway. With a new owner, new name and a renewed sense of passion they will be a stronger team.
St. Brigid’s is celebrating Footy Finals by supporting the Fight Cancer Footy Colours Day, which helps raise funds and awareness for children and teens living with cancer. It is a day when the Foundation asks all Australians to choose their one day in September to show their ‘true colours’ and wear their favourite football teams colours to support the fight against cancer.
Every community is touched by cancer and St. Brigid’s School community is no different. We are delighted to be able to participate in this charity event and help fight against cancer asking students and staff to wear colours of their favourite footy team or another favourite sports team for a gold coin donation.
At St. Brigid’s students under the direction of our Performing Arts Specialist have been rehearsing for tonight’s concert.
St. Brigid’s has a comprehensive Arts curriculum with specialist lessons in the Performing Arts and Creative Arts. Student participation in these programs plays an important part in assisting them to achieve to their potential as learners.
It is through a comprehensive and rich curriculum that is relevant today that we are able to provide students with experiences, opportunities and the scaffolding for them to make the best choices and play an active role in their learning and become positive participants in society.
The Arts is an instrument through which students are able to express themselves, develop confidence and enhance their imaginations and their ability to think creatively. Involvement in the Arts programs assists students in their motivation and concentration. The Arts enhances teamwork and builds confidence and risk taking. To be able to think creatively helps students with communication, problem solving and inventing new ideas.
At St. Brigid’s we develop the whole child and provide a balanced curriculum that meets the needs of all students. It is important students are given the opportunities to demonstrate their individual strengths and abilities and make connections to their lives and the world around them. This makes learning more meaningful and develops in them the ability to recognise their talents and the areas that need to be strengthened.
“If we can mobilize the spectrum of human abilities, not only will people feel better about themselves and be more competent; it is even possible that they will also feel more engaged and better able to join the rest of the world community in working for the broader good.”
Howard Gardner, Developmental Psychologist
“Education for the future has left the harbour and is already on the open seas. Some educators are still clinging to the belief that the ship hasn’t left and are invested in business as usual. Some educators are enjoying the freedom of the open seas …. excited about the foreign ports and places they will visit.”
Renata and Geoffrey Caine
Reflecting on the above quote I am pleased to say the staff at St. Brigid’s are ‘enjoying the freedom of the open seas.’ Being a contemporary or 21st century school our vision is to create a modern and innovative approach to learning that is purposeful and relevant to the lives of our students and their families embracing their diversity and equipping them with skills for today and well into the future.
We see ourselves as a community of life long learners that provides an environment that is both challenging and stimulating and one that fosters creativity. The staff at St. Brigid’s are excited about new ways of doing things and learning new skills that challenge our students to think deeply, investigate, collaborate and problem solve.
Our School 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’ was developed following the School Review process and encapsulates our belief and commitment to our school’s approach to learning.
The teaching here at St. Brigid’s is balanced and consistent across all levels enhancing the quality of education for our students. We recognise the importance of social and emotional learning and the part that it plays in the student’s capacity to learn as part of a community. Our flexible spaces have been designed and used for the needs of our students. Having creative spaces assists in providing learning opportunities that are relevant, rich, personalized and explicit.
We are enthusiastic about the new places we will visit on our learning journey and the experiences we will be able to offer our students.
How is your school sailing?
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Mrs. Denise Cook and Mrs. Cathie Waters have been diligently preparing the double demountable to house our new Library. They have worked hard to present a library that is an extension of our engaging learning environments. It still needs the finishing touches, the elements that will enhance the environment and suggest that you enter into a different world when you arrive.
School libraries seem to have been reduced and appear to be on the chopping block with most new contemporary schools; however, I believe they are just as important as our resources in all of our Learning Centres.
The brief for our school is to develop a library that is welcoming and nurturing and that will support students and teachers learning. It must be a place where students want to visit and stir their interest, imaginations and curiosity. Places where they want to read and borrow books such as fairy tales, novels, play games, do research and enjoy the library space.
Our challenge is to keep the printed material just as relevant as the Internet search engines and combine the two to reach out to students to provide material that is relevant to their learning and their interests. I use my iPad constantly also my e-reader, laptop and computer, however there is still a joy I feel when I hold a printed book in my hand and physically turn the pages not just a swipe of my finger or a push of a button.
I would like to see the library accessible and not in isolation. It is important that students are able to take home books to read. We hope to be able to provide innovative access to resources all within a tight budget and keep abreast of new technologies that we can offer for our school library.
We are trialling opening the library during lunchtime. We have constraints due to teacher duty at this time. The library was open at lunchtime last Thursday and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of students that came in and enjoyed their time in there, reading playing board games and listening to a story read by Mrs. Cook.
Students should be given every encouragement to read and to love reading. If you enjoy reading when you are young chances are that that love of reading continues into adulthood and lasts a lifetime. We need to model reading and show our students that we value the library and we are passionate about its purpose.
Children learn by what they see and hear so set a good example by reading too. Like most teachers, it goes without saying that I love giving books as gifts to children. A book can take you away to a different land, time and place meeting new characters along the way and you can keep coming back to it time and time again. One of my favourite sayings from my former Parish Priest and friend, Fr. Bill Bainbridge when he was alive, was that: ‘You can never be bored or lonely if you have a book.”
The gift of your time to read aloud to your child is so valuable as it is one of best ways to impart a love of reading in the young. There is much research to suggest that reading with children on a daily basis can make significant changes in the child’s literacy levels.
Parents are able to encourage a love of reading by:
I urge you to take the time to read with your children. Keep them curious and wanting to learn more. As Mem Fox said, “When I say to a parent, ‘read to a child’, I don’t mean it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.”
It is that time of the year when enrolments are open for Foundation students for the 2015 school year. The choice of school for their child is sometimes a difficult decision for parents. We believe students experience a unique faith-filled, nurturing environment in a Catholic School.
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.
I take great pleasure in introducing visitors to St. Brigid’s and taking them on tours of our wonderful school. We are a school that recently opened in 2010 and we have modern flexible facilities that include an Administration block, three contemporary Learning Centres for the Junior, Middle and Senior students with up to date technology and resources, two double portable buildings used for the Creative Arts and Performing Arts programs, a library, a soon to be completed new multipurpose room, a Chapel, and Amphitheatre.
As I take parents on tours to showcase our wonderful school I hope they see we are a school that strives to create a caring and supportive community where children are encouraged to achieve to the fullness of their capacity. A school that values the uniqueness of each individual and where learning and teaching engages students and teachers and encourages them to be curious and creative igniting their imaginations and generating enthusiasm to learn. We provide learning opportunities that are relevant, rich, personalized and explicit where there is a focus on the skills needed for the contemporary world today.
We acknowledge that family is the initial educator of the children academically and spiritually. We work together with parents in the learning process and always strive to have open communication. To assist us in this endeavor we have School Blogs, a St. Brigid’s App, our weekly newsletter and up to date information on our website. At the end of May this year we will have our new multipurpose room completed and once again we will have a dedicated space for parents to gather for social and school purposes. This area aims to enhance the welcoming culture of the school as parents and friends get to know each other and develop lasting friendships.
Our Senior students run a Radio program on 3SB each Thursday during lunch time. This is transmitted through the school and the presenters offer information on happenings at St. Brigid’s, sports wrap ups, interesting information on a range of topics, opinion and special guests as well as students showcasing their talents in singing. The students take turns in running the program so all Senior students have a chance to learn new skills.
St. Brigid’s has a strong community presence and we are always willing to work together to keep the warm, welcoming spirit alive.