The dynamic culture of a School

While we all understand the importance of Open Day to our community—and goodness knows we all seek opportunities to maintain our connection to one another in these times, and to celebrate all that is good in our School, to contribute—we also understand why it could not proceed this year.

The O’Connor brownie recipe had, cautiously, and with some trepidation been updated, a little like the secret KFC herbs and spices or Coca-Cola recipe might be, and in every area, the preparations were excitedly underway. But as our girls look out to the special occasions ahead—Gala, Blue Day, 50 Days to Go for the Year 12s as well as all our usual sport, music, and service activities—and our parents to Father and Daughter Dinner, Year 12 Family Picnic and Year level social functions—we know we are luckier than so many in our world at this time.

A Year 7 girl asked me in House Group this week what I considered to be my main responsibilities as a Principal—they always ask the most direct and often toughest questions. Of fundamental importance of course is the responsibility to ensure that learning is authentic, all students experience progress and success, and our School is a place where there really is joy in learning and satisfaction that you have worked hard, given your best—whether you are a student, teacher or any other member of our staff.  And to provide the best possible experience of education there must be a strong sense of belonging—our School should be a place where on most days, most people can find their place and feel a deep sense of gratitude to be here—understanding the privilege and life-changing power of a good education, but also the opportunity to develop a strong sense of self and confidence to move out into the world beyond.

Setting the tone and culture of a School is incredibly important—whatever subjects, co-curriculum experiences, or facilities we might offer—but it is dynamic and needs to be tended to vigilantly and constantly. That means great attention to the sometimes smallest details—whether that is a quiet thank you, a gentle correction, a firm and uncompromising ‘no’, or a commitment to getting things just right. The learning experience and our students’ progress is intimately connected to the culture of the classroom, which of course includes varied settings both indoors and out, and our teachers are tending to this meticulously every day. I recently wrote about this following a discussion with internationally renowned educator and researcher, Dr Ron Ritchhart, on our podcast Illumine.

So, Open Day most certainly is an external opportunity to share that experience with the broader community, but this endeavour continues internally, and we look forward to its return next year.

I hope families enjoy the hint of Spring that is making itself felt in our days and that your daughters enjoy their weekend, whatever it holds. Personally, I am looking forward to cooking a rather large omelette on Sunday with the first dozen eggs brought down from Marrapatta this week. The day-old chicks, born in February (that spent a little longer than intended in the kitchen of our new Director of Outdoor Education, Ms Kim Wood, due to the flooding) are now egg-laying chooks and many of the girls heading up for Camp will have the experience, I hope, of collecting from them.

Ms Jacinda Euler