Welcome to the first of our Celebrations newsletter. Our regular newsletter can often be busy with the day to day reminders of running our school and so we set out to create something where we could celebrate the wonderful work and achievements of our staff and students. Here it is, a place where we reflect on how we are doing as a school community as we - and indeed the whole world - adapt to change.
From our Principal, Peter Rodda
Now that we are about to return to school, it is timely to pause and reflect on our recent journey. We understand that it has been unsettling for all of us to have rapid change thrust upon us, requiring us to adapt quickly. And yet, in amidst the upheaval of that change, we know the strong Catholic values underpinning our children’s education are truly required and have been shown to flourish within each of us.
In fact, the new skills and ways of learning that we have all been introduced to, must certainly have a place in our 21st century classroom.
I feel so truly touched by the wonderful show of community that we saw at our Mothers’ Day celebrations. All of us joined together in faith and love, strength and resilience. Such joy in a time which could be bleak; it all depends on which perspective we decide to use.
It is when times are tough that our Catholic faith can truly lift us up as we are reminded to be brave and strong. ‘Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.’ (Joshua 1:9).
Our St John Vianney’s family have shown remarkable faith, resilience and adaptability in dealing with our new way of teaching and learning. I have enjoyed seeing the children gather together on the varying online platforms, helping each other, waiting for their turn, learning new skills, and all the time being kind and strong. It’s been wonderful to have our parents feed back to us about their child’s learning in the home environment. The comments and the photos you’ve shared and the time you have invested have been heartening. I’ve also loved hearing from both students and parents how the silver lining of this time has been working for them, often the increased time together leading to other activities like cooking, bike riding and working on various projects.
I’ve been amazed as I have watched the staff dedicate themselves so generously to both their own and their colleagues' work. Skills have been shared, offers of help have been given and accepted, and the strong bond between students and school has been maintained. All of this has been achieveable because of the whole-hearted support that we have received from parents. I think it is this sense of community that is really worth celebrating.
I have placed a few quotes below that I have received over the course of the last few weeks that demonstrate the substance of some of the words that I have used above.
A quick note to say a huge thank you for Kaitlin's birthday card in the mail today - she was so surprised and excited. Just beautiful.
As for this morning, what an incredible effort - thank you so so much. Truly heartfelt and the girls were so excited to see all the teachers waving and smiling. Another example of our beautiful teachers, our leaders, our friends. Thank you SJV
Just passing on some positive feedback from the Hill's...They loved seeing all the happy faces this morning and getting the sweet treats. Fantastic idea, really enjoyed it and thank you for setting it all up and all the hard work.
Overall we have been extremely happy with the quality of the program that SJV has developed and we want to thank yourself, Mrs Stilling and all involved. We also wanted to mention that we are astounded at how quickly and seamlessly you have been able to pivot from face-to-face lessons into an online environment. This is no mean feat, and something that the whole school should be proud of.
We feel truly blessed to be part of the SJV community.
What an amazing job Sharee and the school are doing. The speed with which resources were organised for last term was great. The remote learning for this term is amazing. I know friends in the UK have nowhere near the level of interactivity and communication you have all achieved.
I have no idea if the rest of your staff group are as dedicated as Sharee but if they are you have a phenomenal team on your hands.
I am beyond impressed with Sharee and the school's response to this situation.
We have always been a family, and now, more than ever, we see the connectedness between each of us.
None of us is alone.
Tanya Dunley values the school’s strong Christian focus.
I started mid-year, last year, and what I noticed straight away were the beautiful children and families. It’s a lovely tight-knit community. Being a small school you know everyone; you’re seeing them in the corridor, on the playground, you know their brothers and sisters and you’re seeing their parents.
We have good-sized classes and because we have multi-aged classes the children experience a range of personalities and develop friendships across grades. It builds resilience and gives them new experiences.
Our school does an amazing job with specialist teachers. The five-sixers have a big role in the production every second year which they really look forward to. I walked past the IT class and the grade five six were doing green screens and they were so engaged.
The whole school goes to the church and participates in mass which means the students become a lot more connected to the parish and they develop a really close relationship with the priest and the community. We have (a program called) Heart Space where the year fives split up and go to different grades and have a focus - it could be based on prayer or a larger focus on something that’s happening in the world – and they pray with the younger kids. The fives are thrilled with the responsibility of their special job.
Leah Malpas is also the parent of a kinder child and says St John’s is a fine example of the village raising a child.
Everyone talks about that feeling of family.
There’s always someone to go for support, a general chat, or a laugh.
Everyone pulls together; staff, parents, the children, the wider community, the older ones looking after the younger ones. It’s almost like a country school, it’s a beautiful aspect of it, it takes a village to raise a child. Everyone is on the same wave length and wants the best for the kid.
For Mothers Day we had a drive-through coffee and pastries collection. The staff were there handing out the coffees. Isn’t that gorgeous?
Jainil Patel has been doing measurement in maths this morning.
I like going to school because I have classmates to play with and I can learn new things and I have teachers that can help me.
Now we are always online everyday. It’s good being online.
I spoke to my teacher this morning.
She is supportive and I can tell her if I have any difficulties.
I can ask her any questions and she replies me straight away and it helps me with learning.
I’ve also got loads of material like for maths to help me count and do measuring.
It’s very important to be organised when you are working online.
I’m also missing library and the usual things.
I’m also missing my school.
Lucia Taflaga talks about interactions between students
I like the school because there are good friends there and it’s a small school and you basically know everyone. You can ask someone for help and they would probably know the answer. When I’m outside at lunch and someone asks me for the skipping rope from the shed, or when a ball is stuck in the tree, I go and help them. Other times, like in the classroom if I don’t really understand something and I want help from the student’s perspective, I get it.
We learn about being a leader not a boss. A boss tells people what to do. A leader shows them and helps them to do it.
All the fives get a badge and we go around and we give a little religious lesson. It is connected to what they are learning about in religion. (Recently) we were doing about creation and one of the students asked me some question. I had to try and explain it to them in easier concepts and it was a bit challenging for me. I was happy to do that.
There is a lot of support at this school. Sometimes the principal comes in to our classroom and he helps us with our work.
Sabina Wilkinson says online learning has been ‘fun except for when Tilda and Hugh (two-year old twins) get in the way’.
And count and do pluses and times.
My library teacher teaches me about health and lets me get extra books because I’m a really, really good reader.
We do music, Italian and we do ICT and other stuff in the classroom with the teacher.
We learn that if we work together we can make a better community and they teach us about positive stuff.
It’s fun and the teachers are really, really kind.
Everyone there works together to make a good school and big kids help little kids when they need help.