On Thursday, February 4th we celebrated Mass for the Opening of the School Year and remembered St. Brigid (Feast Day February 1st) with our school community.
Following Mass we gathered in our School House Colours, which are Tullow, Delany, Leinster and Kildare for activities that related to the life of St. Brigid and students were involved in Irish Dancing and Sporting activities. We all shared a special lunch together. Thank you to our Social and Fundraising Committee for preparing our lunch, one of our parents, Fiona who facilitated the Irish dancing and staff for their involvement in the day.
St. Brigid was born in a quiet village named Faughart in Ireland in 454 AD. As a child Brigid demonstrated a strong will but also a charitable nature. She was a compassionate woman. St. Brigid was strong in spirit and expressed clear opinions on what was right and wrong. St. Brigid wanted to help those in need and often handed out bread, butter, eggs and chickens from her father’s dairy farm. She could not bear to see anyone hungry or cold.
St. Brigid’s life gives us many examples of her willingness to free people from oppression and poverty. St. Brigid was a woman of great faith and was devoted to God’s service. St. Brigid had special love of the poor. She is renowned for her hospitality. At an early age St. Brigid became a Catholic nun. After establishing her first convent with seven nuns in 468 Brigid established convents all over Ireland. St. Brigid also founded a school of art at Kildare.
St. Brigid died at Kildare on February 1st in the year 525 and she was buried at Downpatrick with St. Columba and St. Patrick. Her spirit lives on in the hospitality that is afforded by the nuns of Kildare.
St. Brigid is our example who displayed the virtues of Knowledge|Strength|Faith|Hospitality. St. Brigid’s life and work inspires the use of hospitality as part of our school’s motto and her strength of spirit and firm convictions inspire the use of strength and knowledge. St. Brigid’s father loved her dearly but often struggled to understand her acts of kindness and practical compassion. As members of St. Brigid’s School community we are called to display kindness and hospitality to those around us. The virtues in our School Logo are the pillars that we build our school upon and are reflected in all we say and do as a community.
A warm welcome is extended to all our St. Brigid’s School community who are with us again this year. I also give an enthusiastic welcome to those who are joining us for the first time. I hope that you all have a wonderful experience learning and growing together and building friendships throughout the course of the year.
Once again Miles will join me in visiting our learning communities and special events that occur during the year and together we will share these times with you.
May the peace and blessings
of Christmas be yours;
And may the coming year
be filled with happiness.
On Thursday, December 10th we celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass with Fr. Jeff and our school community. This Mass was a celebration of the school year and we gave praise and thanks to God for the growth and development each of us have experienced over the year, the friendships that were formed and the spiritual guidance and comfort we have received.
At the conclusion of Mass we held a ’Passing On’ ceremony, which involved our Year 6 students passing student leadership on to our Year 5 students. The learning journey and welfare of Year 6 students was handed over to our feeder school, St. Francis Xavier College, representing their move to secondary school. Representatives from the College were present to welcome these young students.
Tuesday night our Year 6 students formerly graduated from primary school and began a new journey of engagement, discovery and development in to young adults. We must be very mindful that these students are moving on from their primary years onto a new challenging world where they will draw upon lessons learned in the past when making choices and decisions that will affect their futures.
The celebrations they encounter at a basic primary level should not in any way detract from the celebrations they will encounter graduating from secondary school, other educational institutions such as TAFE or university. Last week I saw a class of Foundation Year students at a Melbourne primary school go through a graduation ceremony wearing paper graduation caps and receiving a Certificate of Graduation from their Foundation class. This was then followed by a celebration. I fully understand the cute factor here but is it really necessary?
It reminded me of how we are so quick to make sure our very young grow up quickly and leave behind the fundamentals of their primary years to achieve something that is normally reserved for graduation at a higher level. Are we trying to give them experiences that will take away from those they will encounter as young adults after many years of schooling that have been more challenging and exhaustive than Foundation Year and treat our young people so grown up, that we do not leave special celebrations for the occasions that really deserve them?
There is a feeling of accomplishment at the conclusion of each year as the students move through their primary years. All of our Learning Communities celebrated the end of the school year in a way that celebrated their journey together as friends and classmates. Every student in every year level is precious and important to us and they are praised for what they have achieved and the lessons they take with them on to their next year level.
We have now reached the end of the school year for students and I thank every student for the way in which they have approached their learning and the growth that has taken place throughout the year. With the support of their parents and the dedication of their teachers we have all had a successful year together.
I refer to an article written by Henrietta Cook in the The Age (Victoria) on November 23rd 2015.
Henrietta Cook reports that: “Open-plan classrooms have caused nothing but trouble for many schools, which are putting up partitions and walls to counter the deafening noise created in the barn-like spaces.”
It is a pity that Ms Cook and researcher Ms Kiri Mealings from the Macquarie University did not visit St. Brigid’s and many other Catholic and State Government schools that have been recently built with contemporary flexible spaces to see how these schools are successful in improving student engagement and learning by catering for specific needs of the each student. They would also see that these flexible spaces are not barn-like structures at all.
I would not advocate placing 300 P-12 students in one room that was reported to be happening at Laverton College. I could see how this arrangement would not be successful and the noise would be somewhat deafening with the range of age groups within the space.
Flexible open spaces are engaging environments. Students have the freedom of choosing an area to work on their own or together in collaboration with other students. Conventional classrooms are often limited in their space to provide options for different styles of learning. They can be regimented and uniform. At St. Brigid’s we have the option to close walls, specifically designed for creating smaller spaces. This is seldom ever done.
Being able to work in a team is a skill that is so necessary for today’s world. In business, education, medicine etc. you have people working successfully together in collaboration to achieve the best outcomes in their field. They desire to find best practice and the most thorough research – I could go on. Teamwork in conventional classrooms is not as practical as those in flexible spaces where teachers have designed areas appropriate for the needs of their students.
It is the knowledge and understanding of the teaching staff and their commitment to change age old out dated teaching practices to cater for a generation of students who are curious, creative and who are bursting with the desire to learn that makes open flexible spaces a success or not.
As the principal of a new school designed with flexible spaces for contemporary teaching I have taken many people, parents and teaching staff from other schools, on a tour of our school. The most common comment made is how quiet the learning communities are. The main reason for this is that teachers have prepared and planned together. They co teach with their teaching partners in their level and have shared their ideas and expertise to provide the best outcomes for their students learning.
The benefits of students learning a second language are vast. It is widely recognized that learning another language improves cognitive skills and provides understanding of cultural differences for positive cross-cultural relationships in our increasing globalized world. It assists students in understanding what it means to be literate and improves their knowledge of their own language and how languages work.
Together with our Japanese Specialist teacher and our Leader of Teaching and Learning and Innovation I took part in the Leading Languages Program along with other school across Victoria with the aim to enhancing our school based LOTE program.
We had the opportunity to visit other schools who had undertaken the program in previous years and saw ways they had implemented their LOTE programs to gain different perspectives and gather ideas.
Throughout the course we listened to keynote speakers and shared best practice in LOTE that was happening in our schools. I feel this process has enabled us to develop a three year plan to enhance our LOTE program from Foundation to Year 6.
Each year we celebrate our learning in LOTE with a Japanese Day. This is a celebration of the Japanese culture, their traditions and some of the learning that has taken place in lessons.
As usual we have a fashion parade for all those who came in Japanese costume or dressed up reflecting something about Japan or their culture. It was fabulous to see the traditional Japanese dress, the Japanese Flag, Sumo Wrestlers, representation of other martial arts and many other interpretations of the Japanese culture.
We were entertained by a performance from the Taiko Drummers from St. Francis Xavier College. The young students were amazing and some of St. Brigid’s students were invited to join them.
There was an opportunity to for students and staff to have a Japanese lunch and sample sushi. In the afternoon each Year level had the opportunity to present some of their learning. It was very pleasing to see our parents and friends come along to experience the day with us.
We have had a extremely warm start to Term 4 with temperatures in the mid 30°C.
As we move ahead through the next 10 weeks of the final term for 2015 it is important that we continue learning and building upon and consolidating learning that has occurred throughout the year.
As teachers we must remain focused and ensure the students are engaged as quite easily their attention can turn to graduating to secondary school, moving on to their next year level or thinking about the exciting time of Christmas and summer holidays. With shops and media commentary filled with count downs to Christmas and an array of decorations it is not hard to become distracted.
We are blessed with a highly motivated and diligent staff. who have been planning and preparing in their own time during the recent holiday break to ensure our students are engaged and enthusiastic about their learning.
We must grasp every opportunity up to the end of the year and as we approach the final weeks it is then we begin to turn our thoughts to the anticipation of Advent and prepare ourselves for the wonderful birth of Jesus, our Prince of Peace.
St. Brigid’s staff once again held a Father’s Day Breakfast for our students and their fathers and grandfathers. Special people who play a role as a father figure in the lives of our students were also welcome.
I would like to thank everyone who came along to celebrate the unique relationship between father and child. We understand many of you would have had to rearrange your work schedules and organise an early start to attend.
Thank you also to all St. Brigid’s staff for being enthusiastic about providing this opportunity.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers. May you be able to spend this special day in the company of family or in reflection and remembering of those loved ones who have passed.
Saturday August 22nd to Friday, August 28th 2015
It is always a joy to celebrate Book Week. To discover the joy of reading is a wonderful gift that lasts a lifetime. Books have the ability to awaken our imaginations and take us to places that we have not been to before. We can go on adventures and explore worlds that are very different from our own. They stir the senses and bring out our emotions.
Reading and understanding what you read lays the foundation for a student’s success at school and in life. Some of the ways parents are able to assist our school in nurturing and encouraging the love of reading are:
- Having a ‘reading-friendly’ home. A great way to do this by setting up a reading nook that is comfortable and inviting, a place where you can relax away from other distractions;
- Setting some time aside each day to read together. If this is an enjoyable experience then forming a habit or routine to read without forcing it upon yourself or your child is much easier to accomplish. It is important children enjoy being read to as well as reading themselves. A suggestion to keeping the momentum going when you are reading together is to offer to read a chapter or paragraph each. Younger children it may be a sentence or page of a picture book.
- Letting your children see you reading for enjoyment and showing your enthusiasm for reading. Young children love to imitate grown ups. They will be encouraged to be like you!
- Keeping books so they are easily accessible. Have a variety of reading material that is in written form or digital. Find books that excite you and that accommodate the interests of your child and yourself.
- Visiting a Library regularly and making it an enjoyable experience that you look forward to. Libraries have wonderful resources that you can use. They are filled with age appropriate books and current novels from a wide range of authors. They provide an opportunity to sample different genres and authors without the added financial burden.
- Discussing books and sharing your reading experiences. Look deeper into the book for meaning. If you enjoy keeping a journal, keep a log or journal on what you have read. Look back on books you have read in the past, the ones that have thrilled you and the ones you did not enjoy as much.
When my children were young they formed a reading club with the neighbourhood children. It gave them a purpose for reading and increased the excitement of getting together to read. My daughter being the oldest member took on the role of encouraging and helping the others with their reading. It was a great pastime and one my children and their friends remember fondly. It was at a time when the Goosebumps Series of books by R. L. Stine were popular and they suited the age and genders of these young readers. My daughter is now a teacher and is still passionate about cultivating young readers by passing on her passion and love of books to others.
Being able to read and comprehend the written word will open the doors for future success in areas of life.
Every year since our school opened in 2010 we have been invited to the Casey Aged Care facility to entertain the residents. This year, our Year 3 Choir performed brilliantly and represented St. Brigid’s School with enthusiasm and joyfulness.
It was such a pleasure to see the residents enjoy their entertainment and to listen to them speak very highly of our students. For me it was also an opportunity to have a chat with the senior members of our community and share stories about golf, tennis and their sporting achievements. The students also had conversations and there were many smiling faces.
We wish all the residents well and thank them for showing us such warm hospitality. We look forward to returning again in the near future.