The core Values of our school are Stillness, Truthfulness, Courage, Service and Respect. With our students and staff we work through these values in all that we do throughout the year. However, we do select a Value to concentrate on each Term, along with an aspect of that Value. This Term we have begun by exploring Respect and in particular Respect for our teachers. We obviously have many teachers at school, however in the wider context teachers are all around us. Teachers can be parents, friends, colleagues or our students or children. The greatest respect we can give to our teachers is to listen. Only through really listening without bias or a pre-conceived position can we appreciate what may be learnt.
I have been amazed this week, just as I was in my first year at John Colet School, at how quickly our students have settled into their first week. Some of this can be explained by how our students stay with the same teacher for three to four years. Yet this year, along with our new students in Lower First, we also have new teachers as well as students changing over to the Primary. I believe it comes down to many elements that have been refined over the years such as the consistency in our routines, expectations and values. This together with such lessons as Philosophy, enriched Art, Music, classical languages and the practice of mindful pausing, sets the tone across the school. However, the key factor is our staff and I give thanks to them here for their passion in making such a successful start for our students.
Our school is looking wonderful, our classrooms are ready and our teachers are refreshed and energized for 2018. However, it is has been way too quiet here this week and we are eagerly awaiting the return of our families on Monday!
Over the break the school has had a thorough clean and touch up of paint. Our solar panels are now operational and making great use of the lovely summer sunshine. We have completed and asphalt section in our park above Top House and we shall soon have field lines put down to allow for another sporting venue.
Our teachers have engaged in some wonderful professional development on curriculum, assessment and our approach to the Philosophy and Values that our school holds so important. We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful teaching body at our school.
The strength of our school is centred on a community approach to learning and I do encourage you to become involved as much as possible.
I wish you and your family all the very best for 2018.
This week our 5th Class students gave speeches to the Primary for next year’s leadership positions. It was heartening to see so many of our students putting up their hands to serve our school. It takes a great deal of confidence and belief in oneself to put yourself forward to represent your peers and take on a service role. While not all the children can be chosen they will have opportunities to lead and shine as they have in many ways in the past at John Colet School.
The construction of Plato House has allowed us to centralise our school administration as well as afford us two new classrooms. One of the benefits of doing this was to free up much needed space in other areas of the school. One of these areas is in Colet House where one of the rooms has been developed into a larger space to become our new library. While there are still some final touches to be made, the students are already enjoying the benefits of a more central, spacious area. A special thank you to Mrs Caban who has facilitated the move as well as conducting a stocktake of all our library resources this year. This is a final call for 2017 donations to the school building fund towards the implementation of solar panels. We are currently at approximately $40,000 and only need an additional $2000 to push us over our target amount. Every little bit counts.
As we are looking at the Value of Service in our school this term I thought it would be good to acknowledge the role of the School of Practical Philosophy this week who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.
As you may know John Colet School was founded by members of the School of Practical Philosophy, who as parents were looking for an education for their children that was not available at the time in Sydney. From humble beginnings in North Sydney our school has developed and flourished over the years and provided an excellent education to the many students who have passed through our classes.
We continue to benefit from the philosophy courses available to our parents and staff as well as through the guidance from the members of the School Board who volunteer their time to support the continued success of John Colet School. We give our thanks and congratulations for 50 years of service to the community.
Is my attitude positive? This is the question we are asking students to contemplate over the next few weeks as we explore in more depth our Value of Service. Attacking a problem with a can do, positive attitude is a must if we are to give our best. Both a positive and negative attitude affects our own work and also the work of those around us. If we are looking to present our best work and give service to the task at hand then it must be approached in a constructive, confident and optimistic manner. We all know that sometimes, something may happen in the morning that seems to set the tone for the rest of the day. Somehow everything seems to go wrong. A pause can help break the link to a past event and allow us the space to move on fresh, with our full attention and a positive outlook. We can choose our attitude rather than the other way around, in a similar way to choosing a character in a play and fulfilling our role. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” William Shakespeare
onight we hold our final performances for this year’s Primary Shakespeare Festival. If the past two nights are anything to go by then we are in for a very special evening! Our students have raised themselves to the task, as did our younger students earlier in the year during their performances. Thank you to our teachers for their commitment, our parents for their help with props and make up, and a special thank you to Ms Zoe Emanuel who has led our productions this year.
“Strong reasons make strong actions” King John - Shakespeare
Within our Value of Service that we are exploring this Term is the question of whether we are giving our full attention. Listening with our full attention and giving all our focus to what is at hand is a core aspect of Service and also of Respect. We can practice this with our interactions with other people and also in the way we approach any task. Holding oneself within the present is not easy and can be fleeting as our minds are quick to be distracted and busy. Like a muscle working on a new activity or task it takes practice over time for this to feel more natural. This is particularly apt for our primary students as they take to the stage for our Shakespeare Festival next week. The performances are a wonderful example of what can be achieved over the many years of actively learning to attend. I am very pleased to announce that the amount raised for our solar panels has now risen above the $30,000 mark on our way towards the ultimate goal of $42,000! While we are not encouraging student donations, it was wonderful to see one of our Upper First students bring in sixty cents of her pocket money this week! The students are very keen to make this project a reality.
In Term 4 we look at bringing all our school values together as we focus on action through the value of Service. The word service comes from the Latin Servitum and the Sanskrit Seva, both involving work performed without any reward or payment. It can be taken negatively as in the role of a servant, however the positive aspect we will be looking at is when this action is by choice. We are encouraging students to help others without looking for a reward, payment, or even acknowledgement…not an easy task! Nobody should be taken for granted, however the need for recognition should not hold us back from acting in the right way.
Speaking of service to our community, our P&F continue to fundraise for solar panels for our school. I am pleased to announce that the amount raised has now risen above the $26,000 mark on our way towards the ultimate goal of $42,000! Every little bit counts.
This week we had the official opening of our new building Plato House and the G.S Mane Wing. Mr William Fox, member of our Board of Governors spoke to the students at assembly on Plato and his legacy within philosophy and education. Our Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Philip Wolfers, celebrated the impact that our former Headmaster, Mr Gilbert Mane, had on JCS. There was a very entertaining and moving response from Mr Mane, who was touched to have our new wing named after him.
As one project comes to completion others are just getting started! Our P&F have raised over $22,000 so far towards our school solar panel project. Also, construction and refurbishment will begin over the holidays of Colet 2, in preparation for its use as our new school library. We have a number of landscaping projects also occurring during the break, including returfing of our playing field.
We wish all families an enjoyable and safe break and look forward to welcoming you back in Term 4.
Thank you to all those parents who were able to support the P&F fundraising Masquerade Party last weekend. All money raised from this event as well as from our Walkathon earlier in the year is going towards the construction of solar panels. We are roughly at the half way point of the required $42,000 to make this project a reality. The electricity that the school currently consumes results in 76 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere annually. That is equivalent to 380 kg of carbon dioxide per school child per year. The proposed solar system will reduce the carbon footprint of the school by around 47%, nearly halving our carbon footprint. The reduced electricity usage will also be of financial benefit to the school, saving the school thousands of dollars a year in electricity charges. Every little bit counts!
Next week we have our Primary students leaving for camp. Our 5th and 6th Class will be visiting the goldfields in Bathurst via a stop in the Blue Mountains. 3rd and 4th Class are travelling to Milson Island on the Hawkesbury River. Both these trips are wonderful opportunities for our students to spread their wings, learn some new skills and get to know their teachers, friends and perhaps even themselves a little better.
This is always a special trip for 3rd Class as it is often the first time they have been away from Mum or Dad for an extended period. It is as much a practical lesson in resilience as it is an exploration of the various activities they will undertake. It is natural to be nervous without the comfort of knowing your family is nearby, yet personally affirming when they can persevere, trust in themselves and show greater self-sufficiency.
We wish our students a productive and enriching trip and their parents some added relaxation time in the knowledge that they are in good hands.
Having the pleasure of Gladys Berejiklian, the NSW Premier, visit John Colet School this week was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate literature and the Premiers Reading Challenge. She answered questions on her favourite books and the children had an opportunity to mention theirs, including one student in Lower First naming The Merchant of Venice!
Our students also asked a range of questions regarding service to the community, her rise to her current role and the leadership skills required. It was well timed with our current focus on resilience as there were great examples of the importance of keeping to your values, listening to others and not giving up in the face of challenges. It’s virtually impossible to hold both positive and negative thoughts at the same time. Therefore, by keeping optimistic and your mind positive you can interpret any difficult event as a challenge to be overcome as opposed to it being an insurmountable problem. As a female leader who governs over seven million people it was especially a strong and practical example for our girls on what is possible.
As we continue to explore our Value of Courage this term we are now beginning to look specifically on how we respond to change and difficulties that we experience. Life is a process and nothing stays the same for too long, having the tools and strategies at an early age fosters a growth mindset where obstacles become opportunities in determining our own path.
Mistakes are lessons to be learned from and we should ensure an environment of trust. Being resilient is about being in the present and appreciating what we have control over, yet also being committed to our beliefs and goals. Also, resilience can often be seen more as a set of behaviours or habits that need to be practiced rather than some innate characteristic. Acting with resilience is about putting yourself on the surfboard rather than being washed away by the wave.
It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change - Charles Darwin