Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
Last week I attended an Education Symposium with the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli and leaders of learning from across NSW. The purpose of the symposium was to help the government set its policy direction for the future. I was very encouraged that, at Caroline Chisholm College, we are already doing so many of the things that are being called for in NSW schools. I heard from industry leaders who said that, alongside good marks, they are looking for employees who are great problem solvers, creative and insightful. They are looking for people who make teams work brilliantly together and who can communicate complex ideas with clarity. They want team members who don't give up when faced with challenges and who have grit and determination, people who have learned that adversity and failure are necessary ingredients of learning. These are all features of our purposeful learning at the college, and it is so important that we value these things as much as we value marks and grades. In fact, it is ONLY these things that lead to real growth in learning. Having just read all the Year 11 reports, it struck me that those students who had the best results and best attitudes to learning also had the most community involvement, whether that be through sport, performing arts or community service. That is no coincidence. These activities teach the lessons that the world expects of our students beyond the college gates. Parents and families can help develop these skills quite intentionally. By being encouraging in the face of challenges, by suggesting that your daughter reaches out to her network for support, by never letting her settle for less than her best we can show just how important these habits of learning are.
On Friday night we enjoyed the Dance Showcase, highlighting the talents of so many of our students. Sitting in the audience and watching the show, I was reminded of how much Caroline Chisholm College does to support girls' confidence and creativity. These are two of the skills that were mentioned earlier. It is one of the special gifts of a girls' school, that girls are always centre stage and can express themselves without worrying about what boys may think of them. We are especially grateful to Mrs Brooke Hughes, our dance teacher, who works tirelessly to prepare the students for this, and many other shows and eisteddfods, ensuring that every student has an opportunity to grow, challenge herself and perform at her best. Thank you also to Miss Alara Cassells-Forward and the many other teachers who have supported our dancers over the year, as well as Mr Richard Caws and the staff and students in the support crew for Friday night.
In this edition of our newsletter, you will read about the Parramatta Diocese Education Service Awards. Many of our Caroline Chisholm teachers were recognised for their significant milestone in their service to Catholic education. Special mention must be made of Ms Bernadette Murray, our REC, who was awarded for 35 years service as a teacher. Ms Murray is currently on well deserved leave!
We are about to begin our Kenny House Initiative next week, which focuses on supporting victims of family violence. During the previous school holidays, I was privileged to meet Rosie Battie, Australian of the Year 2015, whose son was murdered by his father in an atrocious act of domestic violence. Since that awful time, Rosie Battie has dedicated herself to campaigning against this silent curse in our communities. Research shows that one in four women will be affected by family violence and one in five children. That figure is obviously too large, and all families should be places of respect and safety. Our Kenny House captain, Madeline Haydon, is about to invite students and staff to participate in the Penrith White Ribbon Day walk on 25 November from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. I will be walking to show my commitment to ending family violence. A large Caroline Chisholm contingent, walking in uniform and in solidarity with women who are victims, would be a very powerful statement and a way of living out our college values of justice and courage. If you or someone you know is a victim of family violence, help is available by calling the 24 hour Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63.
Join with me in praying for families suffering conflict or violence.
God our redeemer and sustainer,
we pray for the survivors of violence, abuse and neglect.
Be with them in confusion and pain.
Give your power to the powerless,
your fullness to the empty of spirit.
Heal their wounds, free them from fear and restore them to true health.
Strengthen them to face the future with faith in you.
We ask this through Jesus your Son,
who was himself a victim of abuse
and yet in his resurrection, triumphed over the oppression.
And now, may your Spirit draw us together,
both in our church family, and in the community.
May we face our mistakes with complete honesty.
Help us reach out, care for the hurting, and support each other.
Strengthen us with the gospel of your grace, for Jesus Christ’s sake.
Mr Greg Elliott