Tena Koutou Katoa - Haere mai Nau mai haere mai
We continue the great start to our school year. On Tuesday we welcomed 44 new students and their families to our St Mary’s Whanau. Our welcome liturgy is always a great event as it warmly signals a start to a journey of growth, development and partnership for children and their families. My thanks to those parents from with our PTA and community who catered an amazing morning tea for all present. My thanks also to Father Mark for the meaningful blessing he bestowed on our new students. At the same liturgy we welcomed Mr Anthony Mills and Miss Emma Washer to our leadership and teaching team.
IT in Schools
I am sure many of you watched the recent piece on Sunday regarding the use of digital technology in schools. I remember the push for schools to reach the desired 1:1 ratio of devices to students. Many did it in differing ways including BYOD. We were always cautious of flooding our school with technology and so staged the approach, ensuring we selected devices carefully, towards 1:1 in our senior school and 1:2 across the remainder of the school in 2016.
Since this time we have also been focused on the growing body of research that highlights the need for developmental learning opportunities aligned with stages of physical and cognitive development. Nathan Mikaere Wallis who is a world leader in this field is someone whose research we have examined. It was great to see his perspective also portrayed on Sunday. Reflecting on and evaluating such views and research has encouraged us to seek a balance in the implementation of digital technology across our school.
The resulting approach has been to actually redefine the use of digital devices in our junior school. Now focusing on the use of iPads to capture evidence and examples of learning that can be shared online and through our reporting processes. This has also meant a reduced number of devices in year 1 and 2. The balance therefore, an emphasis on developmental growth for learning as per Nathan Wallis’ view of aligning learning experiences to stages as opposed to ages of learning. Ratios still grow towards that 1:1 ratio we experience in our senior school but with the focus being on the device as a tool of learning.
It would be fair to say that there is still a need for a developmental balance within all areas of our school. I would be the first to say that we need to look at the amount of screen time our children experience. We have redesigned our curriculum to address this which will see more ambition apparent, particularly in senior learning experiences. You will see examples of this through more open ended student inquiry projects and use of our immediate environment.
Going back to the Sunday exclusive, many of you may have been taken by the Silicon Valley (paperless) Junior High School. What was not shared in relation to Silicon Valley schools was the highly developmental programmes, often completely device free, that are a signature of their primary schools. All food for thought!
In my last newsletter I spoke of some teething problems associated with recent changes to our city bus routes and city provider. I would now suggest teething problems is an inaccurate statement particularly given the continuing threats to child safety. Previously I offered to work with Bay of Plenty Regional Council Transport Operations Officer to ensure current issues are resolved and the efficient service we all hope for is gained in the near future. Unfortunately this was not accepted and so I am now in the same space as other bus users, a frustrated stakeholder. I therefore again ask that if you have any issues with the bus service, especially if student safety is compromised, get in contact with either myself or Theresa in our office. Alternatively contact the council bus team directly.
The new turf is all but installed. I am really looking forward to this as it will provide a great surface for all hard court activities. I would like to thank both our PTA and the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton on behalf of you all for their financial support. Look out later in the year for new mobile goal posts, tennis nets and basketball backboards to complement the court surface. Again thanks to the generous support of our PTA.
Possibly a little ironic given my previous words regarding digital devices but I can celebrate with and inform you all of our success in gaining a TECT grant of $25,000. This will be spent in the digital device area but to replace aging and broken devices and screens which are currently being rationalised. We will also add a few specialised items to the IT suit such as a drone and specialist video editing suit. A big thanks to TECT!
St Mary’s Facebook Page
We still do the majority of our communication through email and will continue to do so but will also ensure the same communication is given through our FB Page. I am aware that the majority of our community is among our 500 followers for but new parents or those still new to the social media game the link is above.
Fia Fia Fundraiser
St Mary’s School is planning a missionary trip to Samoa in October 2019. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to help with travel costs for the children and to supply the two major Catholic Schools in Apia with much needed sports equipment and uniforms.Enjoy an evening of traditional Samoan fun, food and entertainment! So please invite your friends and come along to support this worthy cause. Tickets cover your dinner and live entertainment.
The great weather continues for us in the Bay of Plenty, however March signals autumn and an expected drop in temperatures. For this reason I ask that all students now transition back into our school uniform and save the PE gear for when it is needed. Letting our children wear their PE gear was a great initiative and one that we will look to utilise again should need dictate.
Last year our Cluny Foundation helped a number of children and families within our community in a number of ways, including financial assistance for extra curricula activities both at school and in our community. If you know of anyone who would benefit from assistance please refer them to one of our trustees or call in at our school office.
Tena koutou katoa, Talofa Lava and a very warm welcome to everyone in our school community.
A special welcome to Alexander Carter.
I am very excited to announce that Ben Fuller is now back from study leave. Welcome back Ben, it is great to have you back with us!
Taylor Bros Transport Fireworks & Gala
A huge thank you to everyone who supported our fireworks gala this year. We definitely wouldn’t have had the success that we have had without the input from so many. In particular I would like to thank Taryn Joseph (parent and owner of Thyme Management), Lee-Ann Taylor, Ana McFarlane, the whole of the PTA and St Mary’s staff for your hard work and dedication. The gala is a huge undertaking and I have a whole new appreciation of the organisation involved.
We had approximately 5000 people through the gate and it was a busy night. The fireworks finale was incredible. I will keep you informed of the money raised once that has been finalised.
Congratulations must go to all of our Jump Jam Teams and their coaches.
1st year 1-4 open Team called Enchanters doing “Magic 2.0”.
1st in year 4-8 all boys Team called the Misfits, doing “Captain jack”.
1st in year 4-6 advanced open (the toughest division) Team called Senior Swifts doing song “Shake it off”.
3rd in year 4-6 open, Team called Crazy Circus doing song “Afro Circus”.
4th year 1-4 open Team called Muchachas doing Borriquito.
Learning Through Play
In Week 3, I was very lucky to attend a two day seminar run by Nathan Mikaere Wallis. This was an indepth look at the developing brain! I walked away with a much deeper understanding of neuroscience research and it’s practical implications.
Nathan is passionate about the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life and the development of the brain from conception to 32 years, with an emphasis on the early years of childhood and schooling. He emphasises the importance for children to develop positive dispositions towards their learning and their culture, and to develop their creative and thinking skills.
I highly recommend that you spend 40 minutes of your time listening to the following interviews, with Nathan, on Radio New Zealand:
What 3 - 7 Year olds Need to Learn - 26 mins
Kids With Interpersonal Skills Come From Homes Where There Are Rich Conversations - 17 mins.
I will be running two information sessions on Play based learning in the BAMJC on Tuesday 20th during our Open Morning, 9 - 10:30am.
Thank you for your support.
That’s me signing off for the last time as Acting Principal. Thank you for being such a supportive community during my time in this position, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and gained a great insight into the very diverse nature of the role of the principal.
Nga mihi nui