Principal Blog Issue 18 2017

Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,


When I am speaking with parents, particularly when things are difficult, I often ask them “What do you want for your daughter?”. Invariably, the tell me the same thing: “I want her to be happy”. I must say, it is the same answer I would give about my own children; I want them to be happy. The tricky thing is, though, that happiness is a complex idea. It is not simply the opposite of being sad. It is not the absence of struggle or challenge or discomfort. It is not what happens when we simply get what we want. It is a deeper, and more satisfying phenomenon than any of these things. Martin Seligman, who is a psychologist and author, says that “curing the negatives does not create the positives”. He also says that we choose how we think, and this determines how we feel about our experiences. Caroline Chisholm College has, this year, adopted Seligman’s Positive Psychology framework as a way of teaching the students that happiness is the result of positive habits and thoughts and achievements based on our strengths. Seligman says that there are five ingredients of authentic happiness, and we try to employ these in the way we support the students’ growth. This is known as the PERMA Model. As parents, you may find that this model is useful when you are supporting your daughter through the inevitable tough times of adolescence. 


Positive Emotions - This is perhaps the most obvious of the five elements. When develop the habit of optimism and reframing our thinking in positive ways, it affects our happiness.

Engagement - By becoming involved activities that are healthy and that make us feel involved and useful, we shift our emotions towards happiness. It also brings us into contact with people who are having similar positive experience. This could be a team sport, a hobby, classroom learning or service work.

Relationships - A wise person said that if you want to see your future self, look at the values and attitudes of your friends. By relating with positive, healthy people we are more likely to become positive and healthy ourselves.

Meaning - This aspect of the model can link directly to our Christian faith. By reflecting on our purpose as people with something to contribute, by seeing ourselves as being valuable, and slowly discovering how we can make a difference to the world, we build our happiness.

Accomplishments - We are at our happiest when we are working towards and achieving goals. Feeling aimless and unsuccessful is a very unhappy state to be in.  Even small goals, when they are achieved, are the building blocks of happy habits and attitudes.


We will be offering opportunities in the new year for parents to learn more about supporting their daughter’s wellbeing with tools like this. 


We have just finished a period of intense work and assessment in all year groups at the college. It is that time of year when students work hard to demonstrate what they have achieved in their learning over the year, and most of them will be looking forward to very positive reports from their teachers. Other students may have some regrets about not achieving the results they would have liked, and may reflect on what they could have done differently to have come closer to their learning goals.  This week we celebrate the great work of our Year 11 students who have completed their Preliminary studies for the HSC.  These learning goals and achievements should be seen in the light of the PERMA model. Now is the time for students to set the next goals in their learning journey.


We have had many things to celebrate over the past fortnight. Abby Slaughter (Year 11) was named athlete of the month in our local media for her achievements in swimming, Micquella Grima (Year 9) received a commendation for her Bishop Vincent Social Justice Essay. Next week Sian Johnson (Year 12) will receive the John Lincoln Youth Community Service Award from the NSW Governor at Government House, Sydney.  Elizabeth Azzopardi (Year 12) has had her HSC Textiles Major Work selected for exhibition in 2018. Every day at Caroline Chisholm, students achieve wonderful things in their learning and in their contribution to the community. I am very proud to be associated with them.


Finally, as we watch the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island struggle with incredible hardship and uncertainty caused by our government, I challenge this community to have a conversation about how we have so lost our way. The UN Declaration of Human Rights explicitly states what we believe as Christians, that we are all created equally and have equal rights. The UN High Commission for Refugees has again and again condemned the decisions that have left these people wallowing in desperate conditions. What does the second verse of our national anthem mean, when we say “For those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share”? Prayer is important, but so is action. Speak to people, including your daughters, about what we owe to all humans, especially those in desperate need.  Bishop Vincent has called on us to walk with refugees this year, and our college intends to do just that, by teaching students about the dignity gifted to us by our creator. 


Let us pray:


Loving God,

We pray for the world’s refugees,

They have experienced trauma beyond our imagining.

God of healing, bring them healing.

They endure the most trying of circumstances.

God of strength, bring them strength.

They face an uncertain future.

God of hope, bring them hope.


We pray for asylum seekers detained on Manus Island & Nauru

They are experiencing great pain

God of healing, bring them healing.

They live in harsh and difficult conditions

God of strength, bring them strength.

They are losing hope.

God of hope, bring them hope.


We pray for our nation

We have hardened our hearts against refugees

God of healing, bring us healing

We have grown weary of caring

God of strength, give us strength

We need to find a better way forward,

God of hope, bring us hope. 




Mr Greg Elliott