Principal's Update Week 1
Posted: 01-Feb-2018

Welcome to Damascus College for the 2018 school year. Today we have welcomed a student cohort of 1075 students to begin the school year. Yesterday was a really positive start for our 205 Year 7 students and our 134 Year 12’s. It is great to see everyone back! Damascus News will typically be published on a Wednesday each week – so keep an eye out.

Each year the College chooses a theme to frame our prayer, reflections and liturgies. This year we have chosen our theme from St Paul's letter to the people of Thessalonica (it was the conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus for which our College is named). It is a letter of both encouragement and challenge – things that are both critical in the educative process. Our theme is;

“Never become Tired of Doing Good”

This year we are going to work with the young people of the College to challenge and encourage them to not tire in their efforts to do good; academically, spiritually and socially.

I have enjoyed reading and listening to an educational psychologist over the holidays by the name of Angela Duckworth. Angela emphasises the importance of grit or persistence and resilience in the education process. Learning new things is challenging. I have been trying to master some new dimensions of technology recently and have been incredibly frustrated in the process. The temptation to quit and revert to my previous means of achieving the outcome was enormous, but I had a small breakthrough last week and my elation far exceeded my achievement. It reaffirmed for me the rewards, the joy of learning. The Greek philosopher Aristotle said that the roots of education are bitter, but the fruits are sweet. I hope that the roots of a Damascus education are not bitter at all, but I do hope that from time to time they will test and unsettle in order to inspire and challenge students to reach their potential.

Today there is a lot on with all students returning. As part of our return to school processes we are practicing our evacuation procedures at approximately 12.30 pm. Students have been alerted to this in TA to alleviate any anxieties this may cause.

We are also celebrating the success of our 2017 senior students in an academic assembly in the last two lessons of the day. Tomorrow we will settle into the rhythm of a regular day!!

There are a couple of things that I wish to draw family’s attention to over the next week. Monday is student photos – students need to be in full school uniform on Monday. Students in Year 8 Group 4 who have PE with Wayne Forster and those in Year 10 Group 8 who have PE with Gavan Walsh will need to come in their PE uniform and change for their photos at recess. All other students should be in full uniform at the start of the day and if they have PE later they will need to bring their PE gear to change. Year 12 students will be called for photos from 9.00 am. Students are to bring their envelopes with them to the photo session – they do not need to hand them into the office before this please.

If you are a current family who has a child in Grade 6 this year and are seeking a Year 7 placement in 2019, please get your enrolment in as the demand for places is high. The closing date is February 16th.

Year 12 students head off on their annual retreat experience to Anglesea next Wednesday. We wish them well for this formative experience.

Our rowers have had a busy summer between their respective camps and regattas. Last weekend there were some great results for our intermediate and senior rowers in Geelong. This weekend is the Ballarat Wendouree Rowing Club regatta, so if you are in the vicinity of the lake call past and offer Damascus rowers your support.

Can I remind families that the student drop off at the College is the round-about between the College oval and the JSC Stadium. Please proceed left when you come through the traffic lights at the College entrance. The student drop off zone is not at the College administration and using the designated drop off does assist with traffic movement within the College grounds. We must ensure student safety and I ask parents to be conscious of this as they drive around the College. I also ask families to respect the parks reserved for people with disabilities and to not use these spaces.

On the staff front I congratulate Annette Hallam and Jan Bibby both who will retire from their duties as learning support officers at Damascus from the 22nd February and the 2nd March respectively. Annette and Jan have both been wonderful servants of the College assisting countless students with specific needs. We wish them both well for these final weeks of their education careers.

And while Annette and Jan are concluding their time with us, we have welcomed a range of new staff;

• Chris Grant is joining us as Deputy Principal, from Mercy Regional College, Camperdown. Chris is teaching Year 12 IT.
• Ross McQuinn is a former student of the College who is returning to join the Mathematics team following five years at Templestowe College.
• Tim O’Sullivan is also joining the Mathematics and Science teams this year.  Tim is an early career teacher and completed his final teaching rounds with us in 2017.
• Karen Hocking is joining the Mathematics, Science and RE teams from St Mary MacKillop College in Swan Hill and formerly of the Academy of Mary Immaculate in Fitzroy.
• Rebekah Chadwick who is joining the English team after 16 years at Phoenix College.
• Alan Archbold is joining us as Technology Learning Area Leader and Food Technology Teacher.  Alan has had many years’ experience as a teacher and school leader at Mt Clear Secondary College.
• Lynda Calistro joins us in a new role as Human Resources Manager, having a lifelong career in this space having worked the last four years at Catholic Education in Melbourne,  
• and finally, Nicole Hexter joins us as the Sports Coordinator, and as a member of the Health and PE team after a career of 16 years at St Patricks with various leadership responsibilities.

We welcome back Vicki Rowe who had extended leave at the end of last year, Sally Wright who returns from maternity leave, Adrian Newman and Kirsten Phyland whom both return from a year on teacher exchange in Canada and we congratulate Erin Marshall who was appointed to the new role of Registrar.

We extend our condolences to staff, Loretta Kaval (staff), her husband Roland and their family on the death of Loretta’s mother, Monica Morgan. Monica was a former staff member of Sacred Heart College and a wonderful educator. We also extend our sympathies to Celia Economou (staff), her husband Alex and Stepho (Year 9) and Marie (class of 2016) upon the death of Alex’s mother, Angie in Zimbabwe. We remember in our prayers the extended family of Jennifer Henderson (staff) on the passing of her maternal grandmother in North America.

As we commence the year I am aware that Students Ellie (Year 9) and Imogen (Year 10) Batrouney lost a loved aunt over the holiday period. Bailey Webb (Year 10) lost his maternal grandfather this past week and Josh Meade (Year 9) lost his paternal grandmother.

No doubt there are several other families grieving at this time whom I am unaware of, so we keep all those who have lost loved ones in our prayers and ask that our loving God provide eternal care to those who are no longer physically present. Amen.

In the circle of life, we congratulate Laura (staff) and Jason Kimm on the safe arrival of Hugh Leonard Kimm just before Christmas and wish blessings upon Hugh and his Mum and Dad.

It is great to be back and I look forward to the privilege of working with each of our families this year.

Until next week ….


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