A warm thank you to the parents who have been able to come to the Headmaster’s Class Breakfasts in the Staff Common Room – so far the Primary parents and next the Infants’ parents. Thanks also to Donna for providing delicious things to help the conversation along. These occasions have been most enjoyable and have offered a further opportunity for communication on a more personal level. Our next big social “event” is to welcome Grandparents to the School on Wednesday 4th from 8.30 to 10.30. The children will be serving and then performing. The location is the Hall. This week we welcome a second Gap Student to John Colet – this time from London. Joy Mendes da Costa had her education at St. James’ Girls School, one of our sister schools in London. She will be here till mid-2014. Her interests are sports, drama and history, and we look forward to her helping teachers in all of these areas, as well as Sanskrit, Art and Singing. In her spare time she likes to play tennis and lacrosse and read and sing. Joy is a very experienced babysitter! She is intending to take up studies in education next year with the hope of becoming a teacher. The Garden Club is very close to “launch” thanks to the great and enthusiastic efforts of Alex Delien and a host of helpers, including members of staff. We are encouraging interested children to keep to existing after school activities and wait for gardening to rotate to another day of the week, which we will do each term, so that everyone gets a chance to participate. Best of luck! We are moving on from Steadfastness to the practice of Generosity for the next few weeks. Generosity includes allowing others to enjoy what is theirs – their personal talents and abilities as well as possessions; it includes not taking more than we actually need, and also of course the usual concept of giving and sharing with others what we ourselves have and enjoy. There is much scope here! Please encourage this quality in the children: it is one that can bring much happiness to both giver and receiver.
The past week was studded with events and achievements, which made it a happy one in spite of the very cold weather, and the sudden return of winter. Congratulations to the Chess cohort! John Colet will be represented by a team at the semi-finals of the Inter-Schools Chess Challenge – an outstanding achievement for a school of relatively small size! Well done Miro, Heather B and the children and helpers. We look forward to a happy outcome – win or lose! There were three events – one was an excursion by the Primary children to see the show “Storm Boy”, based on the famous Australian novel of the same name by Colin Thiele. This was much enjoyed by one and all, and apparently had some great puppeteering in it. The Infants too had puppets on Wednesday, this time shadow puppets: a one-person show called The Owl's Apprentice, and very delightful. Supporting our child protection instruction, three Police officers came to John Colet on Wednesday morning to talk to each of the Infants grades about “Keeping Safe”: they covered getting lost and Stranger Danger, and the talks were very interactive, reinforcing what many of the children already knew. Our practice of Steadfastness is being remembered by staff and children alike: it very much links with self-discipline, stillness, reliability and self-respect. Two important items: 1. GRANDPARENTS’ DAY: An invitation has been sent out to all families for Grandparents Day on 4th September, including a programme. If your child has no available grandparents and wishes to invite an Honorary Grandparent or two, please feel free. Please understand that it is vital that you register this attendance with the School Receptionist – we need this information in advance for catering purposes. Your co-operation would be much appreciated by the Catering Department! 2. AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES: Please note that if your children are attending after school activities other than After School Care, such as Pisa training, Mandarin, Music lessons, French, and soon Gardening Club etc., if you are not there to collect them, they will be sent to After School Care as a routine matter of protection and safety. Please understand that we cannot have them running about without supervision whilst waiting for you. The office staff goes by 4 p.m. and teachers will generally be working in their classrooms. Many thanks.
Pictured above is Jenny Ellis of Little Wing Puppets, with the star of her show, The Owl's Apprentice.
The Infants Shakespeare Festival was a resounding success, and as usual, nothing short of miraculous!
Top marks to the class teachers, the Drama teacher, Miss Emanuel, and the many helping hands who provided costumes, props, hair and make-up and also the delicious suppers at the evening shows. The office staff also played its part in providing the venue, setting up the new stage and backdrop and selling the tickets. Mrs. Moor and her intrepid team did wonders in providing “Breezeway Lunches” three days in a row, so the Hall could remain set up for the show, and parents didn’t have to be called on to provide packed lunches on top of everything else! It certainly was a wonderful event and judging from the smiling faces of parents and visitors, everyone involved thought so. The children were praised for their flair, courage, steadfastness and discipline. I am sure that you would agree that these were the qualities shown.
Now roll on the Primary Shakespeare Festival ……. Practice is already well under way!
The school photos were taken without a hitch, and once again, the children are to be congratulated on their behaviour. The photo team told us that the children were polite and co-operative.
We are now practising STEADFASTNESS. This means sticking to things: our values, keeping promises, seeing a job through, completing a task even though we don’t much like it, being faithful to friends and holding to the Truth – these and much more. It is so easy to change our minds when things don’t go the way we like.
There have been quite a few absences this week – staff and children - and we wish everyone a quick recovery.
5th class has been growing cress in egg shells, making hairy heads. Great fun!
Over the past two weeks we have been practising forgiveness. This mainly arises in the children when there is a dispute or some kind of disharmony. Most of the children have a very forgiving nature anyway, but it’s good for them to be reminded and it’s a wonderful asset if they can manage to continue to practise forgiveness as they get older. Forgiveness does not necessarily remove the consequences of accountable behaviour, but dissolves resentment, anger and disharmony for both parties. It’s been a week rather dominated by Shakespeare and the school has been resounding with words of the Bard. So much effort is put into this Festival by teachers, children and parents, both on the frontline and behind the stage as it were, and to such magnificent effect. The “breezeway lunches” which have been necessitated by the Festival, have proved very popular, and the children have enjoyed the slight “picnic” atmosphere of eating outside on the lawn. Thanks to Donna and her team, who seem able to meet all contingencies and still come up smiling! Uniforms are looking better: please keep up attention to this very important aspect of the School’s presentation. We are especially looking for full uniform and a neat and clean presentation. Leaving the school in the best possible condition can be a challenge after a day at the coal face!
Mrs. McKendrick and Mrs. Dunn have left for the Plato Summer School in Delphi. Any Primary issues can be discussed either with the Headmaster, or Mrs. Donald.
The artworks this week are from two 4th class D students: Impressionist style vases of flowers, seen through the green shutters of the artist Monet's house. Lovely work!
Ryde Eisteddfod, Infants Shakespeare and forgiveness
The John Colet Choir of 25 children from 4th, 5th and 6th class entered in the Ryde Eisteddfod earlier in the week and performed beautifully. They looked very smart in their uniforms and many thanks to the parents for presenting them so well. Although they didn’t get a place, they sang very sweetly, but made a few mistakes. Mrs. Miles commented on their good sportsmanship – they were all very cheerful afterwards, even though they didn’t gain a place. In this they were fine representatives of the school, along with their good manners and consideration. The Infants’ Shakespeare dress rehearsal, with a Primary audience, was very well received and we would like to whet your appetites by saying how wonderfully well it went. This is of course the first time we are using the lunchroom, and thanks to the Catering team for accommodating this by having “breezeway lunches”. We’ll save the congratulations for the end of next week! Progress (2nd Class) and Scholarship (4th Class) Testing also took place this week. The Progress Testing, done by Robert Allwell & Co., is a good diagnostic tool to help the teachers in assessing progress. Some ICAS results have been returned with several Distinctions and Credits. Thank you to all the Macquarie Parents for the good work put in at the Working Bee. That event was also the occasion of the school participating in National Tree Day. Alex Delien organised the planting near Top House of a White Aspen to mark this Day – this is a “bush tucker” tree with beautiful white blossoms. Many thanks to those who attended. Mike MacDonald generously gave his talk “Unleashing Your Parenting Super Power” to a group of parents and teachers, and he was his usual informative and amusing self. Many thanks to all who attended – and of course to Mike himself. Forgiveness is our behaviour theme for the next few weeks, and the children are reminded of this practice many times during the day. This is based on the Biblical understanding in the Lord’s Prayer and calls for a generosity of spirit.
And don’t we all really know it’s WINTER …! On that theme, please check your child's winter uniform. Many children have been coming to school without jumpers and looking slightly blue. Remember that Belrose is a particularly cold spot, and that there can be a drop in the temperature during the day. Five members of staff have attended a highly informative and successful Conference, hosted by the Dept. of Education, on Gifted and Talented Education. We hope to see the benefits of this roll out over the coming terms. Two of the keynote speakers were internationally renowned educators who have specialised in Gifted and Talented education, and have published many well-known research articles and guidelines for teachers, both in books and papers – Dr. June Maker and Dr. Joyce Van Tassel-Baska. Both ladies have developed educational models that are used throughout the world. This course confirmed the fact that the John Colet curriculum is indeed an enriched one, and we noted that many of the concepts espoused are already in place at our school. You may be interested to know that Mrs. Toni Cleaves, who looks after the school facilities, also attended a two-day workshop: on Workplace Health and Safety. By-the-by, it was so lovely to return to the school after those days away and find it bedecked with flowers – they seemed to be everywhere after Teachers’ Day, and that is over and above the flowers that were taken by Lower First to the Wesley Gardens Nursing Home. What a treat. Many thanks to the parents for their generosity. Fourth class children enjoyed a Greek day earlier this week. There was much excitement with the John Colet Olympics in which some of the children won bronze, silver and gold medals. There was also delicious Greek food and many enjoyable activities. This Sunday at the Macquarie Working Bee, a group of interested parties, under the leadership of Mrs. Alexandra Delien, will be supporting the Plant a Tree programme. A new “bush tucker” tree will be planted near Top House in the garden bed where a gum tree was recently blown down. A garden club is shortly to be established. We continue to encourage and support acts of service to the school and each other, and also to practise Patience.
Also Plato Summer School in Athens, Delphi and the Peloponnese
In the coming week the Headmaster will be back at school after his international Headmasters’ Conference at Lucca in Italy, but Mrs. McKendrick and Mrs. Donald will both be absent for a few days at a G.A.T.E. Conference (Gifted and Talented Education) at Darling Harbour (no, not Italy unfortunately!). Mrs. Dawson and Miss Cipollone will also be attending the G.A.T.E. Conference.
There will be several teachers going on Long Service Leave during Term 3, some to attend a Plato Summer School in Athens, Delphi and the Peloponnese – in situ as it were. Individual teachers will contact their class parents about arrangements, and we are fortunate to have a back-up “team” of experienced and enthusiastic replacements!
A practice that we will be giving our attention to over the next weeks – both teachers and children alike – is the practice of patience. At the whole school Assembly the children considered ways in which they may practice patience in the class and in life in general. Waiting in a calm, considerate way is a very great skill.
Our core value for practice this term is SERVICE, and we will start with service in the dining room – attention to each other’s needs.
Last week and this week are the “Weeks of Reckoning”, with Parent-Teacher Interviews and Mid-Year Reports being sent out! Another way to approach this is to think of it as setting goals for the second half of the year – reinforcing the good bits and working on the not-so-good! The children have worked hard and are, no doubt, looking forward to the three week break.
As you know, we have worked on honesty this term, and in particular having the courage to own up. Here is a story with a happy ending: the Art Teacher reported that children had been putting sand in the outdoor troughs on the Art Room verandah, blocking the drains and making them inoperable. The children were asked to stop this and it was explained why. Nothing more was said and no-one was asked to own up. A short while later a boy from the Infants approached the Infants Mistress and very quietly said that he had done it and was sorry. A spontaneous admission! He was praised for his courage, and then he faced the consequence, which was an apology in the right quarters. This is the kind of behaviour we hope to encourage.
We are still working on standing aside for adults, and this is certainly a practice to keep up during the holidays. Warm wishes for a restful and enjoyable break!
Congratulations to the winners of the Sanskrit Competition, and indeed to all the children. Their delivery was excellent, and what was outstanding was the way in which they listened to each other as an audience, showing great respect to one another. Mrs. Childs has to be congratulated for her organising of the event, and also the House Captains who so astutely judged the Heats. It is so obvious that events such as this one go a long way in developing the children’s confidence and courage to stand before a large group of people and deliver a piece so beautifully. The children who falter and then carry on are especially to be praised.
Dr. Jenni Cover and Mrs. Naomi Smith – both Sanskrit scholars, are to be thanked for their encouraging remarks, and of course for their judging: this is always a most difficult task due to the high standard of the children’s performances.
On Wednesday the Headmaster hosted a breakfast for all the Open Day, Fair and Art Show volunteers: unfortunately there was not much notice given but about 25 people came, and had a delightful time, quaffing tea and nibbling Donna’s delicious breakfast.
Donna also attended the Live Life Well @ School, and she and the teachers who went along will be planning, with Alex D, how we will further implement this programme. Donna reports that we are already doing many of the recommended things: apparently there are many grants available and a committee is being formed to work towards accessing these grants and subsidies for classes, the kitchen and our proposed school garden.
Please encourage the children to follow through on a current practice – standing aside for adults: this is very much in line with our Value of Respect, and has such an uplifting effect.
Infants Mistress Mrs Judith Donald, left, with some parents at the morning tea.
Well, the Gods smiled upon us and blessed us on Sunday with the most perfect weather for the John Colet Open Day, Fair and Art Show. Not only the Gods smiled, but there were smiles everywhere …
So many thanks are due – the parents who under the guidance of P&F “chief” Katrina B, and the indefatigable efforts of Liz K and her team, got the show on the road; the teachers and children for their magnificent and outstanding class work, Michaela Miles and Robyn Tefay for the singing, Angela Miller for the dance and the class teachers and children again for the recitation, Donna Moor and her team providing us with a wonderful lunch, the Stall teams and also the Admin. team, quietly working away in the background under the Eagle Eye of Alex Coubrough. The Art Show was beautifully curated by Katrina B and Sarah W, and the Opening on Friday was a very successful event with superb catering by Mrs. R and Ms. S and music by Harry L and his band. It’s a miracle how it all comes together, and another miracle how it gets quietly and efficiently dissolved. A sort of magic that comes from co-operation and good hearts. Many, many thanks …
Next week sees the beginning of a sequence of staff absences going on Professional Development, Long Service Leave, and one to be married – Teacher’s Aide – Rachel Humphry! The Headmaster will be away overseas (during the holidays and the first week of Term 1) at a Renaissance Schools’ Headmasters’ Conference in Italy (some people have all the luck!). We start with Miss White and Miss Cipollone going on PD to a “Live Life Well @ School” Workshop for two days next week. This will tie in with the soon-to-be –started Gardening Club. Individual teachers will be informing their class parents of their forthcoming absences – no need to mention them all here.
The Sanskrit Recitation Competition is coming up on 4th June (Heats) and 6th June (Finals). The judging will be done by two Sanskrit Gurus – Mrs. Naomi Smith and Dr. Jenni Cover, and Mrs. Dunn will be the M.C. All the very best …
Did everyone see the Manly Daily front page on Tuesday? Echoes of the fire but great publicity for the Art Show and Open Day.
School has been a hive of activity with a marquee and stage being put together, the Art Show being prepared by a group of dedicated ladies and men, artists dropping a wonderful array of works, ladies with clipboards assessing locations, children rehearsing, and the school’s Art Department and teachers busily putting up work for our general admiration! The Catering ladies are scheming to feed us all with their usual panache on Open Day, and in the meantime, they have managed to keep lunches going in a Camp Kitchen in the breezeway. (The children seem to enjoy these “picnic lunches” and are to be seen in clusters in the Garigal Quad at lunchtime.)
Professional Development: Miss Cipollone attended a Maths Inservice this week, and Miss White and also Miss Cipollone will be going to two PD days in early June relating to Health and healthy eating and how to incorporate this into the curriculum.
This is sponsored by the Health Department and the Council. We are also hoping to promote healthy food awareness with the starting up a little later in the year of a Garden Club after school.
John Colet Day: We were honoured by the presence on Monday 20th of several of our Board members who came to honour our namesake – John Colet , and to tour the school, looking at the children’s work. The Headboy and Headgirl each gave a speech on the background of John Colet in the 16th century, and they delivered these with confidence and clarity. The school performed various recitations and singing – a treat by any standard.
The tour of the Board was very successful and not the least because the children demonstrated excellent behaviour (thank goodness!), but also the Governors, quite fortuitously, happened upon some Writing lessons, and were thoroughly entertained by some budding authors!
In the meantime, we pray for rain, but also ask for it to hold off during the Fair this Sunday!
The school is abuzz with preparations for Open Day, as teachers and their classes work towards producing the magnificent displays of work we see each year, and also the performances for Open Day. Mothers are here and there, too, quietly preparing for one of the year’s big events.
Another event is to take place this coming week, and that is John Colet Day. Governors of the school are invited and the school’s namesake, John Colet, will be honoured by staff and children. There will be some recitation and singing, and also a morning tea for the visiting Board members. Parents are welcome, but please be warned space is limited.
Amongst the several young people currently working at the School (see last week’s Note), we have Andrea Mego (pictured) who arrived only last week from Johannesburg, South Africa and will be at the school till the end of term 4. This visit to John Colet is a real adventure for Andrea who has never been out of South Africa before, and indeed, who enjoyed her first aeroplane flight (though not the considerable jet lag!).
This is indeed a big adventure for her. Andrea is a fifth generation South African of Indian origin. She did her primary education at our sister school in Johannesburg, St. James, and in fact the current Headmaster of Erasmus School in Melbourne, Glen Miller, was her class teacher at St. James. High School was completed at the Nirvana Secondary School. She has joined the Donald household, and is interested in reading, interacting with children, cooking, walking and hiking. Best of luck, Andrea!
Third and fifth classes have been doing NAPLAN tests this week and every time we walk past a class they have their heads down and are extremely quiet, attentive and hard working. The teachers are pleased with their performance and feel that the children have certainly given of their best.
Honesty linked with the courage to own up are still very much our behaviour focus, and this seems to be going well. We heartily encourage the children to practise this both at home, school and abroad.
Honesty is our focus. From our Assembly on Monday, it is apparent that the issue of courage, related to owning up and “ telling the full story”, is very clear to the children because they were able themselves to speak about this. Please do encourage this at home. It stands a person in very good stead to learn this lesson early in life. It’s always very refreshing when a person can admit a mistake!
In case you have noticed an influx of young faces around the school – here is an explanation!
We currently have four Trainee Teachers working at the school: with Miss Marley we have Ellen Murphy, with Miss White Christian Pikhart, with Mrs. McDermott we have James Foley and Mrs. Renshaw has Cat Ellis on Fridays. We would also like to announce the arrival of a Gap Student from South Africa, Andrea Mego, who will be at John Colet till the end of this year.
On Wednesday we had an evening talk at the school, given by Miss Anisha Ramlaul. This is her second visit to Australia – she came last year – to raise the profile of her growing school – St. James’ – in Durban South Africa, and also to raise some funds! She is the Headmistress of that school.
She showed two delightful and informative DVD’s, showcasing the students and their activities. The response from the audience was very promising in terms of funding possibilities, and we hope for a happy outcome. We wish Anisha well in her enterprise! Anyone interested in contributing to this cause should speak to the Headmaster, or to Katrina Beissel (P&F).
It was wonderful to notice how the children returned to John Colet School on Tuesday: they seemed refreshed and full of enthusiasm for the coming term. Teachers report that they settled down to work immediately, and this was certainly obvious at our opening Assembly.
The children had been given “Holiday Homework” by the Headmaster – to honour their parents. Some beautiful examples were given by the children, and even the Headmaster told how he had honoured his parents.
Truthfulness is our term’s practice: in the past we have found this to be extremely fruitful, and the children are gaining an understanding that truthfulness is underpinned by courage and inner strength.
The new term coming up will be the time to pick up the threads of last term’s excellent start, after what will have been, we hope, a refreshing break. The coming term brings with it one of our major annual events – the Open Day and Fair and its adjunct the Art Show; we move towards the NAPLAN testing in May and rehearsals for the Infants’ Shakespeare Festival, held early in Term 3, will begin to “hot up” as Term Two progresses.
Our attention will be on Honesty which is how we practically apply the School Value of speaking the truth. This is a large part of the development of good character in the child, and the courage to own up and speak the truth should be supported in the child at every turn. More of this anon.
Our Art Departmentboasts two highly trained and experienced art teachers: Mrs. Annette Gadsby (National Art School) and Juli-Anne Allcorn (Shillito Design School). Both ladies have worked devotedly at John Colet for many years, and are still actively involved in the art world. Alex Coubrough has assisted in this Department for several years, alongside her artistic management of the website and blog. When asked about the special nature of art in relation to a child’s education, Annette responded:
“We consider visual arts to be an important learning area. It helps with the development of the whole child by giving opportunities for creative expression and by developing concentration and fine motor skills. The exposure to accomplished and beautiful works of art nurtures visual literacy in the same way reading great written literature nurtures the inner being of the child. The ability to find peace and stillness in a simple activity such as observational drawing is a life- long asset. Children are naturally creative and visual arts provides the opportunity for this creativity to find a form of expression. Working together as art teachers and with the children is a time of joyous collaboration and inspiration.”
Both art teachers are currently studying drawing and painting with artist Daniel Pata as part of their ongoing commitment to visual art education.
John Colet has had a long term relationship with the Art Gallery of NSW and both Juli and Annette were invited to become Critical Friends of the Art Gallery for two years; they have worked on the children's programme for the Archibald Prize.