The first two weeks of this term have been busy to say the least. Schools are always a hive of activity but it has been so apparent to me across the last fourteen days just how privileged I am to work with such fantastic students, such a supportive parent body and a staff that consistently go above and beyond to make St Brigid’s such a special place.
Even just a snapshot of what has occurred in the last fortnight hopefully gives you some insight into why you choose to send your children to St Brigid’s.
On the first day of term our staff engaged in professional learning. A big focus of this day was the teachers collaborating together to prepare for the Diocesan compliance process. This process is an essential part of what we do as teachers and ensures that we are meeting the high standards set by the NSW Education Standards Authority. I’m not going to lie, it takes a different kind of person to get excited by compliance but what does impress me is the way our staff pull together and challenge each other to deliver the very best education possible for your children.
Later that day and during next I had the opportunity to interview applicants for teaching roles at the College in 2023. This is a process I treat very seriously, its so important that we recruit well and the quality of candidates was very pleasing. To hear these teachers share their experiences and their passion for teaching and their desire to join our community is genuinely uplifting. Our new staff will be introduced to the community in due course but I can confidently say that they will add further quality to what is already an amazing group of dedicated educators.
The middle of the week consisted of more staff interviews with new student enrolments in between. Meeting with new families and the students hoping to join our College is an absolute pleasure. To hear them articulate their hopes and dreams and how they believe that St Brigid’s can help make those dreams a reality is so motivating. These interviews are a constant reminder to me of how fortunate we are to have a growing group of parents who promote the College in their everyday interactions. It is clear that the word on the street outperforms glossy advertisements every day of the week. It also highlights to me just how fortunate we are to have such amazing teachers and support staff, make no mistake, the school would not be growing in numbers or in reputation if it weren’t for them.
On Wednesday of the first week, the 2023 HSC commenced with all of our kids coming in to sit their first exam. It is a great thrill for me and for all HSC teachers to see our kids finally reach this somewhat daunting but yet exciting milestone. I have seen the kids most days as they come and leave their exams and I’m heartened by their generally confident demeanour. Our aim as a school is to continually build year on year, a culture of academic rigour with high expectations for all our students. By all reports, the graduating class of 2022 are setting an excellent standard for others to follow. I wait with baited breath for their results but beyond that, I thank them for their enormously positive contribution to our College.
Later that evening I had the good fortune to head up to Tahlee to spend the evening with our new Year 12’s on their three day Retreat. I have sung the praises of this Retreat many times in the past and again, it did not disappoint. To see our senior students having fun and genuinely coming together as a group before they commence their final year of education is truly inspiring. I have really high hopes for this group of young men and women, they are already proving to be wonderful role models for their younger peers.
In between all of these happenings was the typical cut and thrust that is St Brigid’s on any given day. To see our incredible office staff spring into action when they were confronted with a rather serious student injury, again highlighted to me what a special place St Brigid’s really is. Every one of them assumed a role and at all times they cared for the child like he was their own. I’ve been in this game a while now and I can honestly say the administration team at St Brigid’s are second to none. Another situation that really grabbed at my heartstrings was when a couple of our students moved on this week, to see these students shed their sometimes hard exterior and just give into their true feelings as they farewelled some of their most influential teachers would seriously bring a tear to a glass eye. So many of our staff play that pivotal role in our children’s lives and I will be forever grateful for their kindness, their compassion and their authentic care. It often goes well beyond the expectations of their role.
This week has seen all of our Year 10’s engage with their yearly examinations. I must say, the maturity they are displaying has been so impressive. I am encouraged by the habits that many are forming and its clear that experiencing these formal exams more regularly will put them in good stead when they sit their own Higher School Certificates.
Tuesday night was the Religious Creative Arts Showcase at The Light of Christ Centre in Waitara. To see some of our students rewarded for their performance amongst such strong competition is so pleasing. I sincerely thank the parents and the staff who came along to support them. On Thursday the Diocese celebrated the Catholic Mission Mass and again, I was so proud to see our new College leaders chosen to read the Prayers of the Faithful during this special gathering of all the Diocesan schools.
Earlier this week our Leaders of Learning took part in the formal compliance process and I thank them for their commitment to this challenging work. It is obviously a side to teaching that our community is not exposed to but I can assure you that our staff are very dedicated to ensuring that your children are provided with teaching programs that challenge them to grow academically. In coming weeks we will have the full analysis from the compliance process which will help to guide our ongoing strategic planning.
What I have outlined above, truly only scratches the surface of what happens at St Brigid’s. There are countless lessons to prepare and conduct, there are exams, assessments, reports, budgets, carnivals, gala days, showcases, formals, assemblies, fundraisers, meetings, phone calls, emails, retreats, camps, mass, liturgies, information evenings, work placements, etc.
I don’t cite any of these things to garner sympathy for those who choose to be teachers or those who work in schools. We do it knowing that its an intense job in often unpredictable circumstances but it’s a job that comes with enormous rewards when we see your son or daughter develop into the fine young men and women who finally leave our great College with the skills and the confidence to tackle whatever comes their way.
My only purpose in acknowledging some of the things I’ve witnessed in the last two weeks is to recognise how important our staff are in building our culture at St Brigid’s. I feel genuinely blessed to work alongside such wonderful people and privileged to see the commitment they bring to the children in their care. I am the first to admit that as a school, we make mistakes and we have areas that we need to improve but what I also know is that the people who man our front office and those on the frontline in classrooms are something special and for that, I am eternally grateful.