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The School Newsletter Week 7, Term 3 2021

From the Principal

I became a teacher for many reasons, but mostly because I enjoy interacting with people. I love to listen to people’s opinions. I love to offer my own views on a variety of subjects. I love to see students become passionate about the issues that are important to them, and I don’t mind playing the devil’s advocate now and then as a means of igniting a robust debate. I would suggest that face-to-face interaction with people was quite possibly the reason why many people choose teaching as a career.

I am facilitating the home learning programs on the school site each day for the children whose parents are essential workers, and for children whose wellbeing is likely to be compromised by staying at home. Remote learning has presented many challenges for me and, I am sure, for our teachers and support staff. I genuinely miss the busy and frenetic (and sometimes chaotic) school environment. While I appreciate the daily interaction with the small number of students who are attending school each day to undertake their home learning, the school feels empty and eerily quiet. This is not what I signed up for when I chose to become a teacher.

Likewise, when you became a parent, I am sure that you did not sign up to facilitate your children’s learning from home. Do what you can, and understand that we are with you. We are all doing the best we can with the situation we find ourselves in. Try to celebrate the small victories. Try to minimise the struggles. I am very grateful for the critical role that you, the parents and carers, are taking in managing the learning from home programs for your children.

I want you to know that our teachers have been doing their absolute best to provide your children with a good education from afar, and that they will continue to do so. Our teachers are working far beyond a typical work day to prepare video lessons, to provide electronic support, to reconfigure their lessons to adapt them for distance learning, and to do whatever else is possible to ensure that the children the best possible opportunities.

One of the very time-consuming tasks for the teachers has been the provision of feedback on their students’ work. Some teachers have reported that they are receiving over 100 submissions each day from their students. Clearly, the students are working very hard. Several teachers are finding it difficult to keep up the written feedback to their students, and are therefore working excessively long days, often into the evenings, to manage their workload. If the home schooling programs last much longer, this will not be sustainable.

I have suggested to those teachers that they be selective in their feedback, i.e. to ensure that every student receives feedback, but not necessarily on every piece of work. This will allow the teachers the time they need for planning and uploading their lessons and activities, and will ensure that they maintain some balance between their work and their other commitments.

I miss you all terribly. Every school day is a challenge for me, much as it is for you. So, let’s continue to tackle this challenge together. The teachers will continue to upload lessons, activities and assignments, and I ask that you do your best to assist your children to complete them. If the burden of the daily routine becomes too much for you, mix it up occasionally by looking for “teachable moments” in the kitchen, in the garden or in the shed.

And remember that this is temporary. We will be together in class again. Stay with us and keep on doing what you are already doing so well. And when it is safe to return to school again, St Patrick’s will be Party Central! (Well, maybe for an hour or two!).

I wish you all a happy and productive week.

Peter Green.

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BOOK WEEK 2021: OLD WORLDS, NEW WORLDS, OTHER WORLDS

Our Book Week plans have changed this year and we will now be holding our Book Fair and Book Parade in Term 4. However, we will still acknowledge Book Week, which is this week, with an activity that you can complete at home. Your task is to decorate a toilet roll tube as a book character, take a photo of it and send the photo to karen.devlin@mn.catholic.edu.au. When you have taken your photo, keep your character in a safe place. When we are all back at school we will decorate the library with all of the fabulous book characters. Be creative, use materials around your home and yard, and use your imagination. Don’t forget to include your name, class and the name of your character with your photo.

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Parent EngagemEnT Group Meeting

COVID has forced us to cancel many of our engagements, but we still plan to run our Parent Engagement Group (PEG) meeting via Zoom on Wednesday 25th August. At this meeting we will present an information session on Student Wellbeing at St Patrick’s. Details of the meeting appear elsewhere in this newsletter. We are looking forward to seeing you there.

At this meeting I am very happy to answer any questions that are submitted to me prior to the meeting.

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CREATIVE KIDS PROGRAM

The NSW Government is helping kids to get creative with the new Creative Kids program. Parents, guardians and carers can apply for a voucher with a value of up to $100 per calendar year for each student aged 4.5 to 18 years old enrolled in school. The voucher may be used with a registered activity provider for registration, participation and tuition costs for creative arts, speech, drama, dance, digital design, coding, and music lessons and activities. This could be a wonderful opportunity to engage your children in some home learning during this lockdown period. For further information, go to https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-creative-kids-voucher.

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RUN2CURE – NEUROBLASTOMA AUSTRALIA

During the first lockdown in March last year, Isabella (Year 4) and Evelyn (Kinder 2022) welcomed a new baby boy into the extended family – Roy – a cousin for Isabella and Evelyn.

Roy cried for the first 8 weeks. An answer to Roy’s discomfort was soon found - a diagnosis of neuroblastoma - a rare children’s cancer. At 10 weeks of age, Roy underwent surgery during which a tennis ball sized tumour and his left kidney were removed.

Fortunately, Roy has been cancer-free since his operation. He has tests and check-ups every three months. When he is five years of age, he will be “out of the woods”.

Since Roy was born, the family has moved to our local area. Roy’s dad, Sam, will be participating in Run2Cure around Swansea in September to raise funds for Neuroblastoma Australia. If you would like to support the family in its efforts to raise funds for research into the causes and cures for Neuroblastoma, go to run2curedomain.gofundraise.com.au/page/BigBoyRoy-15371316.

Thank you in anticipation of your support.

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