Dear Parents, Students and Caregivers
As you would know Wednesday this week was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten period. As a College our students came together on Wednesday morning for the Ash Wednesday liturgy and Mrs Rasmussen reported to me that she was very impressed with the respectful manner in which the students participated in the liturgy.
One of the focus points for our community, which incorporates nicely into the Lenten period, is to reflect upon how we respond with generosity in our interactions with others. Reflecting upon how we participate as a member of our single human family that is equally marvellous, fascinating and perhaps threatening in its diversity. Lent is often a time given over to “holy” words of repentance and promises of self-reform and as a member of the St Joseph’s College Community we are called to consider how we respond.
This ability to demonstrate and accept generosity can be difficult in current times with the challenges of our world which are not only political and social, but also spiritual. It is difficult to grow spiritually, morally or ethically, if we fail to give due recognition that all people are equally valuable and important. We can’t grow spiritually, morally or ethically if we belittle people different from us in their appearance, manner and customs in order to make us feel more important as human beings. We will begin to grow spiritually, morally and ethically, when we are ready to sincerely embrace the truth and fascination of our differences and welcome the common yearnings we have about life.
Stephanie Dowrick expresses this sentiment beautifully when she writes: “Seeing life itself as sacred; yours, mine, and all of life; makes our differences far less frightening. More importantly, it makes sense of how like one another we are in our simplest and most profound longings.”
Whatever our culture, religion or language, we want food, shelter and good health. We want to be able to get up in the morning, enthusiastically, and sleep safely at night. We want health, safety and happiness for our loved ones. We want to know that our lives are purposeful and sometimes gracious. We want to feel part of something greater than ourselves. We want and need inspiration and meaning.
Our spirituality is as personal as our breath or our fingerprint, but, as we move through the forty days of Lent, we might on occasion, surrender freely to the quiet within us, to rediscover the resources and strengths that are there. We might begin to see better and appreciate more, the value of our existence, to see ourselves with more gratitude and respect and to see others in a like manner. This week we pray as a community that we embrace the Lenten period as an opportunity to reflect on how we demonstrate generosity in our lives.
Almighty and Everlasting God,
You have given the human race
Jesus Christ our Saviour as a model of humility.
He fulfilled Your Will by becoming Man
And giving His life on the Cross.
Help us to bear witness to You
By following His example of suffering
And make us worthy to share in His Resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son.
The Importance of Partnership
At our last College assembly, I again reiterated to the students the importance of getting involved in College activities, whether they be Faith, Cultural, Sport or Academically related. I listed a number of activities that had occurred throughout the year already in each of these areas and told the students how impressed I had been with their involvement in these activities. I also took the time to praise the students on their positive response to the challenge I presented to them about the way in which they are wearing their uniform. I believe this highlights their great respect for the College and the pride they have in themselves.
Following on from this I then went on to restate that as a College community we would not stand for people using foul language, people harassing others or students refusing to comply with an instruction that a teacher had given them. The focus of these three expectations is to create a community and a learning environment where staff, students and parents can work in partnership, as a team, to achieve the best possible outcomes for our students. This team approach will always produce the very best outcomes for all members of the College Community.
Whilst setting expectations and guidelines around behaviour is an important aspect of creating an environment that is conducive to learning, the most important aspect of all is the partnership between teachers, students and parents. Teachers and students are able to continually develop these partnerships each day and it is vital that students understand that teachers are there for them, genuinely want to see them develop and have the expertise to bring out the best in them. It is important for students to build resourceful habits to make the most of their teachers’ talents and work with them. Adopting an enthusiastic team approach to learning will produce rewarding outcomes for all involved. One of the most important things for students to take on board is to honestly accept their teachers’ advice, just as they do with the other significant adults in their lives. Students all too often see advice as criticism and as a result they don’t act on it and their progress is adversely affected. Teachers get the greatest reward when they see their students happy and achieving to their potential and we enthusiastically encourage parents to contact their children’s teachers at any time.
Have a great week.