Principal's Update Week 1
Posted: 18-Jul-2018

Welcome back to Term Three. There are many exciting events, appointments and initiatives across the College that will take place this term.

Our 2018 theme; “Never become tired of doing good’ comes from St Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians at a time when encouragement was needed. We are all in need of encouragement at different times and being part of an educational community requires us to ‘do good’ constantly. Our theme this year has been chosen to reinforce the building up of student capabilities through GRIT to help each young person achieve their potential.

Over the holiday break the Damascus team continued to “Never become tired of doing good”. Fourteen Year 11 students and four staff travelled to Anairo in Timor Leste. This team distributed over $14,000 within the communities that they visited, which was a remarkable effort. We look forward to hearing their reflections over the coming weeks.

The “Joseph” cast and crew worked solidly over the holidays under the guidance of our committed Performing Arts teachers and I am sure that while these students and staff are experiencing some weariness from their efforts, the gifts that they will bring forth from opening night next Wednesday will be truly amazing! I wish everyone well for what will be an exciting week of performances.

Our Languages team have welcomed nine students and their teacher from Angers in France – the good work that they are doing, building language skills and relationships across the globe is also extraordinary. I thank those families who are hosting our visiting students and thank Alysoun Smalley for her facilitation.

It is great to hear of staff member Rachel Wallbank and four Damascus College Year 12 students; Tom Carter, Imogen Coles, Molly McDonald and Zoe Bumpstead giving their time to support the Edmund Rice Camps for vulnerable young people over the break. It has been great to hear of the life changing experience that this is.

Our EBT team continue to work hard as they prepare vehicles and train for their events later in the year.

I received a communication of congratulations for four Damascus students who competed in the Swim and Survival Academy long distance swim on Saturday the 17th of June. Congratulations to the following swimmers; Lachlan Lucas (3km); William McKechnie (5km); Brooke Gannon (9km) and Tara Gannon (9km). The students set a goal and worked hard to achieve it – well done!

I also received a phone call this week from former staff member, Leigh Richardson affirming the Damascus VCAL students who he worked alongside at the BlazeAid recovery in Cobden recently – well done to the VCAL team.

Of course the biggest and most consistent part of our good work is the ongoing part each member of this community plays in education. The work in each and every classroom, the act of learning and teaching and the many and varied other opportunities that exist across the College community, are all expressions of our theme and Christian call to ‘Never become tired of doing good’.

Over the holidays there have been significant changes within the St Martin’s Resource Centre to better support student learning and wellbeing. This is the next stage of changes that we will make in this space and we encourage families to call through and take a look.

Can I remind families of the important Pathways and Subject Selection evening tomorrow (Thursday night) from 5.30pm – 7.30pm in the Catherine McAuley Wing and the John Shannon Centre. This evening is open to all year levels and will focus on providing an opportunity for parents/guardians and students to:

• participate in workshops that will outline the processes involved in subject and pathways selection for 2019 (years 8-12).
• request further information from Learning Areas subjects offered and requirements on the night
• understand the purpose of the ESTEEM program which fuses the mathematics, science and digital technology components of the Year 8 curriculum. Year 7 and 8 Parents and Students will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on workshop.
• build awareness among community, staff and students of the need to develop language skills and how learning a language can broaden career opportunities.
• request Careers assistance, direction on pursuing career options and pathways.
• generate active discussion at home to facilitate effective decision making with respect to student subject choices and pathways. 
There is a lot coming up with TA interviews in Week 3 which will be critical to assisting students to plan for the future. We have O’Collins next Tuesday and and Xavier Day, a ski trip, VCAL Courageous Conversations, Fathers’ Day Mass and Breakfast. The staff faith development day and then Damascus Day towards the end of the term always provides a great opportunity to celebrate our community.

There are a number of staff comings and goings as we begin a new term. I welcome back Karen Simpkin, Dominique Jans and Catriona Sexton who are returning from extended leave. I welcome new staff members Tamzin Perkins, Shaun O’Loughlin, Kate Martin, Fiona McKechnie, Luke Parker and Sr Emma Llewellyn who are covering various leave arrangements.

This week I have announced the retirement of Mr Greg Dow from a wonderful career within education – Greg began his teaching career at the former Thierry College in Broadmeadows in 1981. He started at St Martin’s in the Pines, one of the foundation schools, in 1989 before moving into Damascus in 1995. Greg completes 30 years of Mercy education on this site at the end of the year and is looking forward to the opportunity his retirement presents. Greg has leave for surgery from the end of this week and as a community we wish him well for a swift recovery. Trish Rowe has generously agreed to step into Greg’s Year 12 Legal Studies class and Gerard Macklin will take up the Year 11 Legal studies. Sr Emma will teach Greg’s Year 9 English and a Year 7 English class from Trish Rowe to enable her to teach an adjusted load.

Jennifer Montgomery has taken Long Service Leave this term and Catriona Sexton will be taking her Year 11 and 12 classes, with Shaun and Tamzin picking up her junior classes.

On behalf of the community I congratulate Naomi Roycroft who works regularly for the College, on her marriage which took place on Saturday.

We remember Casual Teacher, Susie Surtees, who is experiencing significant ill health at the moment, in our prayers.

I ask for your prayers for Year 7 student, April Koeleman who lost her loved Dad over the holidays. We pray for and remember April, her siblings and extended family at this time of grief. May the God of compassion be with them all.

It is an exciting time – have a great term!!


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