From the Head of Junior School – 13 February 2020
A very warm welcome to existing and new members of the ELC and Junior School community for 2020. We are excited to welcome 21 new children who commenced with us in Prep and Year 1, 4, 5 and 6. As usual, the beginning of the year began with extremely hot weather but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the children making their return to school. It was wonderful to see those familiar faces reappear in the playground and hear about their holidays.
At our first assembly I shared my holiday adventures with the students, but we also briefly touched on the recent bushfires which have gripped not only our state but the nation. My focus and strong message for the children was that in these uncertain and unsettling times there is always someone to help us. We looked at ways in which people (from within Australia and overseas) are supporting each other and/or injured and displaced wildlife during and after the devastating bushfires. I read to the children a heartening message from Montgomery County Elementary School in Georgia, USA: “MCES sends our love, prayers, and support to Australia. We discussed a variety of animals that live there…such as koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles, and the kookaburra bird. We hope someone in Australia sees this post and is comforted in their time of need.” I showed the children some very colourful drawings these students had drawn of our native kookaburras, koalas and kangaroos. I contacted the Principal, Dr Beverly Faircloth, of that school and thanked her and her Year 1 and 2 students for taking the time to reach out to us.
We had very good attendance at our Meet the Teacher evenings. We tried a new format this year where I addressed the community and spoke of some new initiatives, gave reminders, updated the community on staffing and the recent building works. Then parents heard their child’s class teacher speak about notable events and experiences that their child will have this year. There is always the important element of ‘housekeeping’ to get through at these evenings, but they help families understand the expectations, routines and daily organisational needs that ensure the classrooms run smoothly.
The students always look resplendent in their uniforms at the beginning of the year and we have already given away a few band aids for students with blisters from wearing new shoes!! Our students really do wear their uniform with pride. I ask all families to familiarise themselves with uniform expectations at this link: http://aims.stmargarets.vic.edu.au/pdfs/admissions/2020%20uniform%20policy.pdf I ask that parents not mix and match summer and winter uniform. If you need anything clarified, please ask any of the staff.
We welcome new staff to the school: Ms Allison Stekelenburg joins us as a Year 6 classroom teacher. She is trained in the PYP, has worked extensively overseas and within Australia as a teacher and leader. Ms Kate Flood is working as the Digital Learning Leader for Prep to Year 6 students and will greatly assist in the rollout of the Prep to Year 4 one-to-one iPad program. This role will see her working closely with staff and students in all year levels. Kate will also work in the Year 5 and 6 classrooms helping staff and students with programming. Kate is initially rolling out a new Learning Management System called Firefly in the Junior School, and then school-wide. This new LMS promises to streamline the way in which we communicate with you as parents. There should be a central place for you to read and learn more about your year level, access pertinent information and announcements rather than receive information through Bulletins and many emails. More information will come to hand as the LMS is developed and built. So, watch this space! Mrs Kate Bartholomeusz is a new Prep teacher who has joined us as an experienced teacher, PYP educator and leader in the early years. She is the teacher of our third Prep class. Mrs Eva Bukin joins us as a PE teacher for Prep and Year 6 classes. She is also a support teacher in the Year 6 classroom as well. Mrs Jasmine Jones has returned to us following Maternity Leave and she is providing extra classroom support, commencing in the Year 6 classrooms.
One of the many highlights of my first full week in the Junior School had to be my visit to the Year 5 students on their Outdoor Education camp at Golden Valley Lodge, Flinders. The environment there is untouched and exquisite! The students participated in many activities such as: orientation, low ropes, archery, flying fox, the giant swing, surfing at Point Leo, dolphin research and learning how to pitch tents! Importantly, the children began to bond with their teachers and each other as a year level. I thank the staff who attended (Mr Robertson, Mrs Coburn, Ms Tan and Mrs Cooper) and the families who prepared their children so well for three nights away from home! In the next edition of Campus News, I look forward to sharing more about the Year 6 Canberra Camp.
Ms Louise Sayar
Head of Junior School