I would like to start this week by commending the children for rising to the challenge of owning up. There have been a number of examples this week where children have shown the courage to be honest when called upon to do so. Not always an easy thing to do. Our teacher on duty at PISA received some wonderful feedback from the umpire of the senior girls Netball team who was struck by their kindness and good sportsmanship. They have moved into a new round of competition this term and these qualities will stand them in good stead. Finally it was great to watch the year 6 Debating Team in action this afternoon. They spoke with clarity, confidence and intelligence. It was a very good start to a new round of debating which sees us facing different schools than we have in the past.
The term has started on a strong and steady note. This term we will be considering the value of Truthfulness and the many facets that this quality entails. In the famous words of the Bard:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
At the beginning of the week the teachers spent a day studying the value of attention in education. We looked at the words of William James a 19th century American philosopher and Simone Weil a 20th century French philosopher who said,
“The development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies”.
This lies at the heart of our teaching practice. We all look forward to an industrious and stimulating second term.
I would like to join Mr Wilcock in commending the children on their outstanding behaviour at our Anzac Assembly. It was underpinned by the work of all the teachers who have taken time to discuss the history of ANZAC Day in detail over the last week or so. I would also like to acknowledge the beautiful singing from the John Colet Choir and the very moving trumpet playing of the Last Post from guest player Mr Helmers. The event marked a fitting end to a term of hard work and effort.
I would like to take the opportunity to wish everybody a safe and happy holiday period and look forward to seeing everyone return refreshed and ready for Term 2.
We started this week with the annual Easter Assembly. The children spoke beautifully about the Easter Story and its significance; it was very uplifting to hear the many ways Easter is celebrated in different families. In a school that crosses many cultures it was excellent to engage in such an inclusive conversation. This week has brought many delights. The best part of the job is to have children come and show me with pride the work that they are doing, from 6th class presentations about different cities and regions of France to Lower 1st Science experiments on what plants need to survive. The single thread that runs through all this is their love and enthusiasm for learning. All classes have also had the opportunity to visit the Life Education Van this week and participate in an excellent program on different aspects of caring for their physical well-being. I would like to extend best wishes to all for a safe and happy Easter break.
This week we have been practicing excellence. Excellence applies to anything that we may undertake in any area whether it be academic, sporting, artistic or individual endeavour. Excellence allows each child to set his or her own standard, and to strive towards achieving his or her personal best. This means that excellence includes everybody, without the need to compete. It has been a great pleasure to have children approach me to tell me with pride about something that they have achieved whether it be receiving a pen licence, getting ticks on a behaviour award chart or getting a place in their chosen high school. What stands out is that excellence applies to anything no matter how great or small. It is wonderful to see this underlying attitude manifesting in the actions of the children.
Since the beginning of the term the school as a whole has been practicing the value of Respect. We take time to do this because, for all of us, it takes a long time to develop this quality in such a way that it works in all aspects of daily life. Recently in order to support the development of all the school values more fully, we have introduced the Eagle Awards in recognition of a suggestion made by the Head Boy of 2016 Callum Hoye. These awards recognise of the demonstration of any one of the values and allow opportunity for children to be acknowledged for their efforts to develop strong character. So far two awards have been given out, one for Respect and one for Courage. Hopefully this will grow to be an award that teachers have the pleasure of handing out regularly.
As the term is settling into its rhythm more time is available to go and visit the classrooms. This week I have spent a lot of time with the infants children and it has been wonderful to see how happy and engaged they are in their learning. Upper 1st have written some excellent reports on The Spiny Devil. I am particularly impressed with their use of vocabulary and the neatness of their presentations.
6th class hosted an excellent Market Day in support of the Pink Ribbon Foundation and on Monday morning they will be travelling into Darling Harbour to participate in the National Leaders Day. I continue to be impressed by the way in which they step up to their responsibilities.
A number of 5th class children started Meditation this week and I had the very good fortune to meditate with them on Wednesday morning. It was wonderful to see their sincere approach to this discipline.
The big event this week was the Primary Swimming Carnival. I would like to add my congratulations to Mrs Mackenzie on doing such a wonderful job and also to the children for their enthusiasm, good sportsmanship and good behaviour. The House captains all did a marvelous job both in helping to organise their House and also in the way in which they conducted the pre-Carnival meetings with House members at the beginning of the week. I met with 6th class this morning just to take stock, as it were, of how the term is progressing for them and I was very impressed by the conversation. The effect and value of service, both for themselves and others, was a focal point of the conversation. I found this very encouraging. On Wednesday we will have Cook Market Day and we look forward to raising funds for the Pink Ribbon Foundation. Also on Wednesday, we look forward to meeting up with parents from 3rd and 4th classes for Morning Tea in the Library.
This week it was good to meet with the parents from 5th and 6th class who were able to come to the Morning Tea. It was great to discuss the value of an education that seeks to broaden the children’s horizons by offering a broad and rich curriculum.
Next week we will be holding our Primary Swimming Carnival. For the first time we were obliged to swim heats in the week prior in order to accommodate the number of events. Our heats went very smoothly thanks to the careful organisation of Mrs Mackenzie and Mrs Layton and to the steady and co-operative behaviour of the children. All primary parents are invited to join us next Wednesday at Killarney Swim Centre from 10.45 am. I have been invited into many Infants classrooms to hand out merit cards. I continue to be impressed by the high standard of work that is being produced by them and their efforts to remember the quality of respect.
This week I had the great privilege of meeting with all 5th class children to discuss Meditation. We had a beautiful discussion about the benefits of pausing regularly at school. Many of the children spoke of how much it helps them during the day to settle and empty out. One girl gave a beautiful analogy of bathwater being emptied out of the bath. Congratulations to our new Lower First for such a steady start to the year, it looks like they have been here for a lot longer than two weeks! We look forward to seeing as many parents as possible at the Board of Governors Reception next Friday night. Many teachers will be holding their parent information meetings beforehand so it would be good if you could stop by before you leave. It is a good way for our new parents to get a sense of the John Colet community.
Our first week back has been seamless. The children have returned full of vigour and ready to begin the new year. At our first Assembly on Monday we discussed the quality of Respect which is one of our core values. This will be a focus for some weeks to come. Certainly during the week there have been many examples of Respect by students in all year levels. I would like to particularly mention 6th class as a cohort and the Leadership Team in particular. On Wednesday our new parents were ably welcomed and assisted by our Leadership Team who also spent the morning in the Lower 1st classroom supporting Mrs Connell and Mrs McDermott. After two days of testing our new Lower 1st have settled remarkably well. This coming week we will begin Infants and Primary chess. We also look forward to the start of our Term 1 PISA competition. The teams have already been selected and will no doubt represent our school with good sportsmanship, determination and enthusiasm.
Welcome to Term 1 2018. We are looking forward to a full and productive year that will offer all our students an opportunity to shine in their individual strengths. A particularly warm welcome is extended to our new Lower 1st children and parents, and to those families who are joining the John Colet community for the first time.
All the teachers have been hard at work this week studying and preparing their classrooms so that they are ready for the beginning of the year.
Our Lower 1st children will have their first official half day on Wednesday 31st after they have had their individual assessment sessions with the Lower 1st teachers on Monday and Tuesday.
I am very much looking forward to working with both children and parents in my new role as Deputy. I am hoping as the year progresses to become well acquainted with all our students. It is important that we work together to uphold the values that unite us as a school.
There has been the usual generous response to the Smith Family Christmas Gifts Appeal, and I have TWO Treasure Chests full of wonderful toys somehow packed into the boot and on the back seat of my car – ready to be delivered. Thank you to all the parents for their generosity and giving!
Another even bigger ”Thank You”…. This one from Mary McKendrick and myself at this point of our retirement from John Colet after 32 years. Thank you to the children, parents, teachers and staff with whom we have worked through all those incredible years to establish this wonderful school and offer the best education we can. We consider ourselves blessed to have had the opportunity to do the work we both love and value in such very wonderful company. Imagine spending every working day doing what you love and believe in with people you value!
So - thank you to the whole community, past and present! Valete!
Judith Donald Infants Mistress Mary McKendrick Primary Mistress
We are still asking “Is my attitude positive” – and the question that naturally arises to follow this is – if my attitude is not positive, can I actually change it and turn it to the positive. It is much more useful to direct the energy that is wasted in anger or gloom towards fixing or accepting the situation; or indeed “moving on” to something else. Congratulations to Kai C, who was the winner of the In-house Primary Chess Competition The Nativity will be performed on Tuesday 28th at 8.50a.m and parents are welcome to stay for it - It may be standing room only for the 2nd Class show!! This is also the day when gifts are collected for the not-so-fortunate via the Smith Family. Some gifts have already been received: thank you. (See separate article) On Monday the Instrumental Ensemble will be playing for the School at Assembly. It will be a big week of many year-end events, not the least will be several farewells to our magnificent 6th Class, and the week will culminate in the Picnic Day. Teachers will send reminders about sun and swim safety. Please remember that children must wear rash vests or T-shirts in the water. Hope to see many of you there. Those classes who are moving will do so on Monday 4th December.
“Is my attitude positive” is the aspect of Service we are currently practising at school. How much more pleasant is it to be in the company of people who are positive and able to deal with difficulties and obstacles without descending into gloom or anger. Be positive and see the bright side if you can! A special event this week was the wonderful afternoon tea prepared by 6th Class for all who helped in the staging of their fabulous play. The 6th Class Sewing group brought their activities for the year to a close by branching out into bread-making – a successful effort and beautiful loaves of bread were taken home! The Infants staged their in-house Chess Competition and the winner was Jonathan Z in 2nd Class. Well done Jonathan! The Primary Competition is to be held next week.
Judith Donald Infants Mistress Mary McKendrick Primary Mistress