Principal's Update Week 11
Posted: 27-Jun-2018

As first semester draws to a close, there are some significant resignations from foundational leaders within our community that deserve celebration.

This week I received notification from Assistant Principal of Student Wellbeing, Joanne Kennedy of her decision to resign from her teaching and leadership role at the conclusion of 2018 to pursue new ventures. Jo has been a wonderful servant of Sacred Heart College and Damascus College over the past 32 years, having fulfilled the role of classroom teacher, House Leader of O’Collins and most recently as Assistant Principal-Student Wellbeing.

Her contribution as Assistant Principal of Student Wellbeing for the past 6 years has continued the excellent history the College has had in providing a safe and nurturing environment for students and in building strong relationships with families. Jo’s quality leadership has been founded in her excellent rapport with students, colleagues and families and her hard work and commitment to Damascus College.

While Jo is currently on leave, her intention is to return early next term and conclude 2018 as Assistant Principal. The role will be advertised over the coming weeks. I thank Jo for her great contribution and look forward to celebrating her career in the spirit of Mercy as the 2018 year draws to a close.

Last week I also received communication from Fr Adrian McInerney of his intention to retire as Governor of Damascus College. Fr Adrian has been the representative of the Association of Canonical Administrators of Greater Ballarat which is made up of the priests of the parishes that the College serves within the Diocese. In Fr Adrian’s letter to the Chair Person of the Association, Fr Peter Sherman, he writes;

“Dear Fr Peter
It has been my privilege to be co-governor of Damascus College since its inception. The position has greatly enriched my life and I am grateful for the experience.

Next month I will turn 75. It is time for me to retire and for the Association to appoint a new co-governor of the College. It seems appropriate that my retirement be effective immediately and that the new co-governor assume the role as soon as possible.”

Fr Adrian’s communication continues to express his appreciation for Co-Governors Sr Veronica Lawson and Sr Berenice Kerr and his confidence that the College community, under the guidance of the Principal and the Damascus staff, the College will continue to “walk in the light of Christ”.

Fr Adrian McInerney’s decision to retire draws to a close his role as Governor of Damascus College after 23 years of incredible service.

Fr Adrian was on the planning committee that led to the amalgamation of St Paul’s College, Sacred Heart College and St Martin’s in the Pines. He later supported the movement of Damascus College onto a single campus in 2011, working with the other Canonical Administrators and the Bishop to relinquish the parish ownership of the site to the College. This allowed the investment of the sale of the Victoria Street campus into the school facilities at Mt Clear.

Fr Adrian has always brought an enthusiasm for the students, families and staff of this College to his ministry as Co-Governor, he has a deep appreciation of the opportunity that education provides for young people and he has committed his life to building up the faith community that exists here.

The icon of Our Lady of Mercy that sits within Our Lady of Mercy Chapel here at the College is a gift of Fr Adrian and former Co-Governor, Sr Veronica Lawson. Fr Adrian with Sr Veronica as Co-Governors and now with Sr Berenice Kerr have been wonderful contributors to the development of Damascus College as a place for the development of faith in young people through the Catholic tradition. Fr Adrian was instrumental to the development of the chapel on this site and it sits as a beautiful recognition of the presence of the light of Christ for the entire Damascus College community.

Damascus College is grateful to Fr Adrian for his ministry, his educational leadership and his dedication to the Damascus community and I congratulate him on his well earnt retirement ahead of his 75th birthday. On behalf of the entire College community we thank Fr Adrian for his remarkable contribution.

The Association of Canonical Administrators will meet over the coming weeks to appoint a new Governor.

Jo and Fr Adrian’s contribution has spanned the full history of the College and each have played key roles in the Damascus College story.

Teaching staff are finalising exam corrections and other assessments and preparing reports for parents and guardians. These will be completed by the end of this week and be ‘live’ on the Parent Access Module (PAM) on Friday afternoon. I encourage you to set aside some time to take in the information provided on PAM and to invite your sons and daughters to reflect with you on their learning during first semester.

An important aspect of learning is thinking about learning; thinking about what worked and what didn’t and why. Thinking about what can be done next time that will improve the chances of success. Thinking about your understanding of the way you work and learn best and the ways you can apply this during the next semester, to maximise your achievements. Thinking about what didn’t work and the learning that always comes with mistakes. Success doesn’t just happen. It follows planning, hard work, reflection and continuous repetition of the skills needed to become good at what you are doing. Learning is a life long journey and one that we all need to continually bring a focus to. It is important at home that you reiterate that success is about improvement, not just an end result and affirm your student for their efforts to see better results.

It has been great to follow the progress of the Damascus Timor Leste Immersion team on Facebook. Their experiences of life in Timor are profound learning experiences shared by staff and students and we continue to send them prayers and best wishes for their experience, which see them home on Tuesday of next week.

The College hosted a composting workshop last Saturday under very wintery conditions and I thank David Neate who facilitated this sustainability opportunity.

This week we farewell Claude Akakpo who has been working with the College as a staff member of the Information Technology team. Claude has provided generous support to both staff and students in his role of ICT Help Desk Officer. We wish him all the best success for his future roles in and outside of the IT industry.

Other short term staff movements see Wayne Forster on Long Service Leave (LSL) from this Wednesday and we wish him well for a well-deserved break.

Jennifer Montgomery is on LSL for all of Term 3 and we wish Jen and her family well for this period of well-deserved refreshment and renewal. Jen’s classes will be covered by new staff members; Tamzin Perkins and Shaun O’Loughlin throughout next term.

Over the holidays from July 10th, the Damascus community welcomes 9 students with their staff from Angers in France. These students will spend nearly two weeks on homestay, experiencing life with Australian families and schooling at Damascus and we look forward to welcoming them at the start of next term. I thank Learning Area Leader - Languages, Alysoun Smalley for her work in preparation for this visit and the families who have generously offered to host.

This Friday, as the last day of term, will see school finish at 2.20pm. Students have a casual day for the Vinnies Winter Appeal. Over recent years Damascus College has offered what is the best support that Damascus can to St Vinnies and they have asked for blankets to provide to those who feel the cold in Ballarat’s winter. Damascus purchases 60 blankets from the Creswick Woolen Mills valued at over $50 each and each TA fundraises to support the purchase of a blanket. The proceeds of Friday’s collection will support additional blankets. Students are asked to bring $2 for what has been termed by the SRC as “Comfy Casual Clothes Day”. If your student has PE, Wood, Metal, Science or Food Technology– please ensure that they wear appropriate clothing; particularly closed footwear for practical classes.

Office hours over the holidays will be Monday – Friday 9am to 4pm and closed from 12pm until 12:45pm each day for lunch.

Looking ahead, Term 3 will commence with regular classes on Monday, 16th July.

This week in TA, students have been provided with information to focus conversations for TA interviews and pathways selection for next term. Can families of Year 8 to Year 11 please mark Thursday, 19th of July in your diary for the Subject Selection Information evening that will occur very quickly upon our return next term.

Join us tonight for a night of Music and Drama as we showcase and applaud the achievements of students within Performing Arts this semester. The work within the showcase will come from performance tasks set within the classroom and from a variety of extra-curricular performance opportunities available at the College. This event offers parents/guardians and the general public a genuine insight into the innovative curriculum offered at Damascus in both Drama and Music. The Showcase will be staged in the College Auditorium beginning at 7:30pm. It follows two wonderful recitals last week and I congratulate all those who have performed.

The cast of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ have been working incredibly hard over the past three months and they have a busy time coming up in the second week of the holidays. I congratulate them on their commitment and thank the team supporting them; Andrew Seeary, Nicole Burness, Vicki Rowe, Chiara Angeli and Maria Russell.

We remember in our prayers this week the family of Macio Nash (Year 11) on the passing of his maternal great Grand Father. Our prayers also go out to the family of Benjamin Fiscber (Year 7) on the recent passing of his Grand Father and  we also remember in our prayers Louise Bunting (Year 10) and her family on the passing of her Grand Father. We also pray for Patrick Dillon (staff) and his family on the passing of a loved uncle. May the God of Mercy hold them eternally in God’s care.

Thank you for the privilege of working with the wonderful young people that make up the Damascus College community this semester. If you are travelling over the holidays, do so safely.

Until next term …. God Bless

MATT 

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