This will be the last newsletter for what has been a most challenging year. It feels like more than a year ago, however, that we were responding as a school community to the impact of bushfires and the impact on school routine of heavy rains and flooding. In comparison, these were relatively minor for the school, in relation to the response required from students, families and staff to the spread of COVID-19. From Easter until now, we have had to navigate school closure, remote learning, phased returns to face to face lessons, cancelled and postponed activities and adjusting to the new normal of COVID-safe school and life. This has been a year like none we’ve experienced previously.
Reaching this point of the year and looking back, I am most thankful and amazed at how our school community has navigated these challenges, especially when the second wave of COVID cases were often so close by. I am thankful to God for his protection of our school and His provision of our excellent staff who have gone the extra mile on so many occasions this year. I am also thankful for the supportive patience and flexibility of school families as conditions and arrangements have changed rapidly. The messages of support and appreciation were so valuable for maintaining staff morale through difficult times. Our students are resilient, and they have demonstrated such growth through the year, not just in their learning but in personal courage and independence. One clear example is the building of confidence in our young Primary students as they say ‘goodbye’ at the front carpark and walk into school. This development of confidence would not have occurred without the challenges of this year. With the support of the school, our students can tackle challenges and achieve so much.
Yesterday, we held a staff farewell for Mr Robert Burgess as Deputy Principal – Primary School. Mr Burgess has worked here all his teaching career, spanning 31 years, 18 of these in his current position. Over that time, Mr Burgess has seen the school grow and change from a very small beginning to the school of over 1200 students we are today. Over the past 18 years, Mr Burgess has led the Primary School to a place where students experience engaging and challenging learning opportunities and where individuals are respected and cared for every day. Mr Burgess is a passionate educator who has students at the focus of his efforts. So much of what is excellent about our Primary School has come to be as an expression of his approach to the role of an educational leader and his care for all people. Mr Burgess will be taking a well-deserved break early next year prior to taking his next career steps. We wish him and his family all of God’s blessings and we will miss him greatly.
I am also most thankful and excited to let you know that Mrs Gillian Coote will be taking up the role of Deputy Principal – Primary School from the start of 2021.
Mrs Coote has worked in several Primary School senior leadership roles in Christian and government schools in NSW and interstate. Having returned from interstate in the past two years, she is currently a member of Pacific Hills Christian School’s executive. Her experience in schools is based on Christ centred and student focussed teaching and learning, the leading of school improvement, and the development of cultures that align a biblical and missional intent with measurable outcomes of excellence.
Mrs Coote has a clear love for the gospel and sees the role of education as a vehicle for introducing students to Jesus as essential. Her educational background includes Bachelors of Teaching and Education and a Masters in Special Education.
Mrs Coote will be making an appearance at the Primary End of Year Assemblies via video. Please use the links provided by the school to stream these assemblies next Thursday morning.
I also wish to announce a second change to the Primary School executive structure.
To assist in the continuation of the Primary School’s work in achieving our mission and to acknowledge the extent of the role and its critical nature of the support to classroom teaching, I wish to announce that Mrs Melissa McCleary will take up the role of Primary ADP, Learning Support and Student Wellbeing.
You may be familiar with Mrs McCleary’s work in her role of Learning Support in the Primary School. This year, she has also been a significant contributor to the revision of school wellbeing programs for 2021. Please uphold Mrs Coote and our Primary School in prayer as we navigate this change in leadership.
This week we have also announced that the school musical next year will be ‘Matilda’. This is very exciting news and while there may need to be some COVID adjustments for how this production will develop, we are expecting the quality of the show to be just as amazing as any Carey production. Matilda is based on the classic by Roald Dahl with a fantastic music score and great story line. Information will be made available to students regarding the audition process upon their return to school in the new year.
We are also busy with plans to ‘catch up’ on some of the events that needed to be postponed this year. Bookings have been made for High School camps in 2021. These include camps for Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. Our camps program is an important part of our wellbeing and learning programs. Camps provide the opportunity for students to take on the challenge of new things and to be brave. Sometimes being brave means doing rock climbing, sometimes it means being brave enough to get on the bus and head away for three days. Every student learns new things about themselves and grows in character through these opportunities, and these times become treasured and long-lasting memories of their school lives.
These are just two things I am looking forward to in 2021 – there are many more in store.
For now, there are a lot of people looking forward to the chance to catch their breath over the coming weeks. I would like to wish all members of our school community a blessed, peaceful, safe and refreshing break during the Christmas holidays, looking forward to meeting the new challenges of the 2021 school year together.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)