Term 3, Week 1

Term 3 has begun

We have much to look forward to in Term 3, which includes both Open Day and Gala this year, and our Year 12 students are about to embark upon the last, and very important, stretch of their time at Girls Grammar.

Future Plans
There is a soberness in much of our public debate at this time, with concerns about inflation, interest rates, energy, and the ongoing demands of this pandemic. While continuing to manage the realities for our School and our families we also, fortunately, have our eyes on the horizon beyond all of this. We are entering an exciting and progressive stage in our School’s history. On Monday, staff commenced formal discussion about creating a new Strategic Design that will frame a contemporary articulation of a broad, liberal education for the future. Simultaneously, we will consider the resources required to deliver it in a major master-planning exercise. And, preparations are already quite intensely underway for the celebration of 150 years in 2025 with, among other things, a new publication of our distinguished history.

Thoughtful Educators
My first day back after taking leave in Term 2 was spent at our inaugural Thoughtful Educators Conference on the first Saturday of holidays. Nearly 200 educators representing all sectors including state, independent, single-sex, and co-ed attended as well as university students, lecturers, and researchers. We had teachers, principals, academic leaders, and new graduates together—all united in our shared purpose. It was an opportunity to learn from one another, and share both our experiences and the load. We were energised by one another’s expertise or fresh insight, and grateful, quite frankly, just to be present, to be together, for education is truly a collective undertaking, and Girls Grammar is proud of our contribution and collegiality, which has both sustained and inspired us during ever-changing times.

Dr Ron Ritchhart, whose work with Harvard University’s Project Zero in creating the Cultures of Thinking framework has guided the work of our teachers most profoundly in recent years, presented at the conference, and we were delighted to have him with us, in person, for the first time. He is a luminary figure in education and did not disappoint, and on the day, we recorded an Illumine podcast with him, which will be shared next week.

Illumine for Parents
A few days after the conference, I also had the opportunity to speak with Dr Lisa Damour for an Illumine for Parents podcast which will be released this term. Dr Damour is the Executive Director of the Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls in the United States, the author of two New York Times bestselling books, a regular contributor to the New York Times, and guest on CBS News. She writes about parenting adolescents in challenging times but in a way that while highly expert is also empathetic, sensible, and warm—and most parents could probably do with a little more kindness being shown towards them.

Dr Damour presented to the staff of Girls Grammar earlier this year and in our podcast conversation talked about the importance of parents having difficult conversations parents with their daughters noting that those of today may be markedly different from those of even 10 years ago; but that while mobile phones, social media, and of course a global pandemic may well have changed these conversations with our daughters, they remain vitally important. For no matter how uncomfortable they might sometimes make us as parents, we know that having open and honest discussions will help to keep our teenagers safe, informed, secure and happy.

On being back and doing less–for a time
People have asked: how I feel to be back?—excited; what did I do?—not too much, which I must say was the point in my 10th year as Principal, but I did read the novels of Marilynne Robinson, practise some yoga, and a (very little) bit of golf, at long last, with my mother. I brushed up on my piano skills and spent time with family; and what’s next, what awaits us?—many good things.

I deliberately tried to do less and it required quite a bit of discipline to stick to that. The temptation when you have more time is to pile in more—so many possibilities!—but as Greg McKeown has written in Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less it is important to continually develop ‘the ability to discern the vital few from the trivial many’ priorities of our lives—something I know our girls often struggle with—and not uncommon for us all in modern life to be ‘making a millimetre of progress in a million directions’.

Thank you to Deputy Principal, Mrs Anne Ingram
I was confident in and very grateful to have our Deputy Principal, Mrs Anne Ingram, with her outstanding competence and strong leadership, in the position of Acting Principal in Term 2. Mrs Ingram oversaw another successful time in the life of our School for staff, girls, and their families, and was well supported by the entire staff, professional and dedicated as always.

I hope that you have enjoyed some happy times with your families over the holidays, whether your camping was a little wet or you were fortunate enough to finally get on a plane, perhaps even to a foreign country at last. We do crave a change of scene, even culture. I know all will have appreciated some break from routine and time with your daughters.

Ms Jacinda Euler