Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
Welcome back! To our newest community members, parents of Year 7 and parents of students entering other year groups, I warmly welcome you to this inspiring community of faith and learning. It is my prayer that your journey with us will be rewarding and richly blessed as, together, we watch your daughter flourish as a learner and an active member of Caroline Chisholm College. Our new students have already begun the process of settling into high school, and I am grateful to Mrs Fran McCauley, the Year 7 Homeroom and CoLe team, and all the teachers and support staff for ensuring our year has begun smoothly, with a focus on learning and wellbeing.
Over the Christmas holiday period, I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about what makes a successful learner, and I shared this with our staff at the first meeting of the year. Every student wants to be successful. It is not a complicated formula. As we begin the year, I ask that parents and carers engage with their daughters around these key attitudes and strategies for success. Conversations in the car, or over dinner can have a profound effect on the way our girls think about themselves and their learning.
1.Help your daughter to get organised. High school is so busy, and the closer we get to the HSC, the busier it gets. Our school diary is so useful for keeping tasks and timelines in order. Increasingly, our students are using apps on their phones to stay in control of their learning: Google calendar, the Classroom app, the Drive app, reminders and alarms, may all be useful in bringing some order to what is a big task.
2.Help them realise that their education is the top priority. We know young people have a lot going on, and that's wonderful, but the knowledge and skills they learn at school will likely impact on their decisions in the future and their opportunities. Her school days are a precious opportunity that must not be wasted. Attendance every day is vital, which is why I will decline a request for leave unless it is unavoidable.
3.Effort is the only 'trick' to learning. It would be nice if there was a secret trick to getting good results and learning well, but there isn't. Successful students are the ones who work hard, act on feedback and don't give up. They make sacrifices to ensure they've given themselves every chance of learning and growing. No shortcuts, no excuses.
4.High expectations make a difference. Young people, generally, will only do as much as is expected of them. If we don't expect much from them, we don't get much. If your daughter gets stuck in her learning and gives up, do you say "Well, at least you gave it a go", or do you say "This looks hard, what else can you try?". Learning to give up as a teenager becomes a habit for life. Learning is hard and sometimes it's uncomfortable. It's meant to be. When we stretch, we grow.
Your daughter will hear these messages from all of her teachers, and your support at home will make all the difference. Maybe you could have a discussion about after school activities, and how to fit in study time. Maybe there could be less TV and screen time to open up space for homework. When checking and signing her diary, perhaps have a talk about the tasks you see in there (or don't see in there!). As always, the college is ready to support you in this. We will be holding our Parents Forums again this year, so that you can come along to learn some strategies for supporting your daughter and meet other parents experiencing similar things with their own teenager. Your daughter's Homeroom Teacher, Subject Teachers and Year Leader will gladly discuss your daughter's learning with you. In partnership, we can navigate the challenges of educating teenagers!
We have had some changes in our team this year. It gives me great pleasure to introduce the following staff who are either new, or in new roles:
Mrs Deborah Scollard joins us as Assistant Principal, responsible for learning and curriculum. Mr Patrick Madigan will be with us for 12 months while Mrs Jeanette Cocks spends the year as Religious Education Coordinator at Emmaus Catholic College. Mr Madigan will be Year 9 Leader of Learning and a member of the CoLe team. The CoLe Team has another two new members. Miss Rebecca Sidhom is replacing Mrs Terezel Araya until Term 4 and Miss Jaden Ellis will be here for 12 months. Mrs Amanda Moore joins the Science faculty as Assistant Leader of Learning, and has already begun working with Ms Ashley and the Science team. We have two new members of the Mathematics team. Mr Robert Elliott (no relation!) will be replacing Mrs Rebecca Zammit during her maternity leave, and Miss Saoirse Ward will be job-sharing with Mrs Natasha Harper for 2018. In PDHPE, Miss Tayla Gianotti will be working part-time, and Miss Alara Cassels-Forward will be with us for another year full-time.
Finally, Ms Lana-Marie Nagy has been appointed by CEDP as our permanent, full-time counsellor. Lana comes to us from Gilroy College, who are quite sad about losing her. She has already been introduced to some of our girls with whom she will be working.
Over the coming weeks I will share with you, through this newsletter and website, our plans to transform the learning of our students in this challenging time, to prepare them for the uncertainty of our complex world. The work has already begun; our team is filled with hope and so capable of leading your daughter to great learning. We call this plan our '5 Transformations' and its effect on the quality of student learning will be significant.
Last Sunday our College Executive and Student Leadership Team had the privilege of attending the installation of Fr Suresh Kumar as our Parish Priest at St Padre Pio Parish, Glenmore Park. Bishop Vincent asked us to pray for Fr Suresh as he begins this important ministry of service. Please pray for our whole community, that, in 2018, it will be an authentic expression of God's love and compassion. As Bishop Vincent reminded me three weeks ago "Catholic schools find their authenticity in the Gospel priorities of inclusion and special concern for young people at risk of being left behind. We are not schools that provide education for Catholics only but Catholic education for all."
We struggle to recognize you in the everyday journey of our lives.
We seek your wisdom as we begin again this work of Catholic education at Caroline Chisholm College
Open our eyes,
Light of the World, to your work of transformation in and around us.
As we walk with you day by day, may your new life be made present in what we say to others.
Give us the grace to make all our conversations holy.
Just as we desire that our speaking be holy, may our seeing be holy as well.
O Christ, that shape our attitudes and behaviours.
And in our seeing, help us to recognize and welcome the stranger in our midst.
May our welcome be a celebration of the gifts and graces of persons who are different from us
and not merely tolerance of an outsider.
Remind us, Holy One, that you invite us to abide with you;
to have our lives grounded in you.
We thank you that you walk with us in our joys and our concerns.
Mr Greg Elliott