I visited one of our 2nd Classes this week where we explored how our school is also our home. In light of our Value this term of Respect we have been paying particular attention to our school environment. John Colet School is here for the children and the expectation is that they look after their school just as well as they do their home. The assumption here of course is that they keep home ship shape, which I am sure is the case 100% of the time! I am glad to say there has been a notable uplift in care across the school, from our bathrooms to our native bush play area. We are fortunate to have a school in such lovely condition within such a beautiful setting to call home.
We are halfway through our Parent Morning Tea’s that have been scheduled this term. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with our Primary parents and I am very much looking forward to our upcoming sessions with our Infants families. It is also a good opportunity to get to know your fellow parents and share the successes and challenges of this most important role. Our school is stronger through a connected and supportive community.
It has also been great to see a larger turnout at our Parents and Friends meetings this year. As you will see in this newsletter they are always looking for people to lend a hand with events, odd jobs or expertise. I do encourage you to become involved in helping as more hands the lighter the load….plus it is a lot of fun!
On Wednesday this week at our Primary Swimming Carnival I was stopped by an adult visiting the swim centre, asking about our school. She passed on how impressed she was at the behaviour of our children, particularly how quickly they fell quiet to hear announcements and also how loudly they cheered for their teams. The respect our children at John Colet School give to their fellow team mates and to our staff and parents can often go unnoticed and it is great to receive feedback to remind us how important it is that we focus on our values. A big thank you to our chief organiser for the swimming carnival Mrs Mackenzie, our supporting teachers, the swim centre staff and our volunteer parents for making the day such a success.
This term we are exploring the Value of Respect and in particular respect for one another. At assembly this week Mrs Renshaw spoke of Respect by the way of seeking harmony. Much like actors on a stage, a choir group or sports team, real harmony requires full participation, listening, unity and a bit of give and take. The group can fall out of harmony from time to time, however the goal is to reach a unity whereby you are working truly together rather than just in one’s own direction. We are looking forward to hearing from our students at assembly on Monday where this may have been worked on or found to be present.
With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things. - William Wordsworth
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.