As a part of our renewal process we have a visitation team who will walk and talk with us about our journey as a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition. This week Chris Smith, National EREA Director for Identity and Liberating Education, Peter Chapman, EREA Director of Northern Region Support, Peter Stower, Area Supervisor for the Brisbane Catholic Education Office, and Paul Belton, Principal of St Paul’s College in Giles Plains in South Australia, join us for three days to share our story on how we try and put meaning around the EREA Touchstones. In this process they will interview a range of people in the ATC community from teachers, staff, students and parents and this will lead to a report being given to the College to reflect on. This report gives the College both commendations and recommendations that help us in our strategic planning directions. I would like to thank the large number of parents who completed our recent survey regarding this process; your feedback will certainly help inform this process.
I often get the opportunity to see the newsletters from other schools and while I don’t read every newsletter that comes over my desk, one recently caught my eye. In the recent St James newsletter, their Principal Gerry Crooks shared a story that one of his year 11 students related at a leadership gathering. He said that the student spoke briefly but poignantly about an incident that occurred when he was at their Brekky Van ministry that happens early on a Wednesday and Friday morning in the Valley. The student was serving breakfast to one of the men who had shown up for something to eat. As he gave the man his food, the man’s response took the student by surprise- he was in the students own words ‘shocked’ by the comment. As he received the food the man said “You know how to feed my heart, brother!”
Gerry went on to comment that whatever the service we provide to others, what is more significant is the quality of the engagement, the depth of the relationship that connects one another together. It is through these connections that mutual understanding, personal growth and life experience comes to the fore. For me and my journey within our ATC community at the moment this makes a lot of sense. At the end of a recent College event a parent I was talking to left me with a compliment that affirmed for me the essence of what we are trying to achieve at the College. This parent was new to our community and had two sons start this year. She said she just wanted to tell me that there is not a staff member that she has met this year who didn’t show that they really cared about the boys here at the College and this is not something that was always the case from her experience. In thanking her for this comment I felt affirmed to be a part of a staff that had left her with this impression. In her words I heard the thought that Gerry shared in his newsletter reflection i.e. it is always about the quality of the engagement and the depth of the relationship that is most important.
Whilst I understand that we cannot always do all things perfectly or the way all parents might hope we should do things, the one thing that I am always confident about is that our staff will always be operating from a premise of what is the best for our students. One of the things that I believe our staff do well is to waste time with our students and build good relationships with them. Wasting time with students is an important skill in relationship building, and I know our staff are very generous with their time to achieve this – be it in the playground, around the school grounds, in sporting and musical endeavours or in classrooms at the end of a lesson.
Leadership and Service
The three pillars on which we try and build our community are leadership, learning and service. These pillars provide a framework on which we can provide students with the means to enable them to grow into the young men we hope that they can be. Rather than being involved in big programs and big moments, our aim is to try and look for opportunities for our students to experience these in the everyday. Whilst this is an ongoing evolution, every now and then we get an opportunity to see a moment when this comes together. One of the pleasing opportunities that have arisen for some of our students is to be involved in refereeing younger students. Whilst this is the case in many schools, in most schools this is the domain of the year 11 and 12 students. This football season it has been great to see some of our year 8 and 9 students take up this opportunity. Last Friday night was one of those times when I had a chance to see a young man starting to emerge in one of our students. Whilst not saying this student is not always showing leadership and service, this occasion provided me with the opportunity to see the moment in a different light. Tom Newell one of our Year 9 students who loves his AFL was sharing this passion by umpiring our under 10 team in a game versus Wests. For me it wasn’t the standard of his umpiring which impressed me the most (by the way his umpiring was of a very high standard!). Rather it was about the way in which he umpired that impressed me the most. It wasn’t about power and control, Tom showed a gentleness in the firmness of his control of the game, he showed that the clarity of his comments in the game meant that he was teaching the players about the game, and the tone of his voice meant that while he was in control of the game he was also working with them and showed them a great example of respect. This is the kind of leadership that we talk about at school and I was very impressed in the example I saw Tom display last Friday night.
Whilst talking about sport I could not let the opportunity pass without mentioning another highlight for me this week. This week one of the great sporting droughts was broken. Our staff are very generous with their time and regardless of their sporting backgrounds and talents we all try and pitch in and help out. For many of our teachers the reality is that they might help out with coaching three sports a year which would mean that if you were in your fifth year at the College for some staff this might mean you may have been involved in about 12 to 14 sporting seasons across a variety of sports. Now we all know that winning is not always everything but the occasional win is always well received. There is a saying in sport that after every game you lose you are one game closer to your next win and conversely after every winning game you are one game closer to your next loss. That is the reality of sport. Last weekend after twelve seasons of saying that you are one step closer to your next win, that win became a reality for Sam Hassett and in this specific case the mighty 5C football team. If enthusiasm counts for something I cannot understand that Sam has gone four and a half years without coaching a winning NJC/ATC sporting team. Sam is the quintessential ideal energy person who is always upbeat and the eternal optimist. There wouldn’t be a time that I haven’t seen him tell me and whoever would listen that he had a good feeling and that this game was going to be the time to break his drought. Last Saturday was no different except that after declaring pre-game that he had a good feeling about this game the 5Cs won a hard fought game against their Lauries’ counterparts 2-1. Sam by his own admission would not claim to be a super coach from a technical perspective, but in my eyes, his commitment to the boys in his teams and the ever present energy and enthusiasm that he brings week in week out, season in season out, he fits the criteria of the super coach tag. Whilst Sam has learnt the hard way that after every loss you are one step closer to your next win, the harsh reality in the cycle of sport after last week’s win is he is also one step closer to his next loss. Thanks Sam, you typify what I like most about our community – involvement, commitment and enthusiasm.
One of the new additions to the ATC landscape this term has been the opening of the ATC gym. The gym is located in the old maintenance shed adjacent to the top roundabout. The creation of the gym has been the result of a lot of dreaming and hard work from Luke Donatini and Fiona Kearney and it provides our boys with an opportunity to start to look at ways to improve their physical performance through increasing strength, core stability, flexibility and endurance. It is great to see boys pushing themselves and challenging themselves to improve their fitness to achieve their goals to become better athletes. As is the case in all sports, the training is not restricted to the physical growth and the real gains also appear in the mental side of performance where confidence and discipline are as big a part of the end result. I would like to congratulate Luke and Fiona for adding this new exciting dimension to the College sporting landscape. The gym is open at various times before school during lunch breaks and after school – various teams and squads have been rostered in on sessions and there are also open sessions that are open to all students.
Follow the link below to view the timetable.
I would ask you to please keep Oliver Stanley-Jones (5 Nolan) and his family in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of his paternal grandmother. We hope that time will help heal the pain they will feel in her absence. Eternal rest grant unto her our Lord, May perpetual light shine upon her, May she rest in peace. Amen.
With best wishes