Principal's Update Week 6
Posted: 14-Nov-2018

It is a big week of events with students heading off in all different directions from the College. Reports from the Strathbogies are that the Year 9 students are enjoying their experience in the outdoor and that the weather is holding up well. Our Year 10 students on Retreat returned yesterday, and there was great acclaim for the leadership provided by the Year 11 VCAL students of that program. These students were well organised and prepared for the activities that they ran thoroughly, and I congratulate them on their efforts. Many Year 10’s are currently out on work experience, and school staff will make contact with the employers over the rest of the week.

Many of our Year 12 students will sit their final exam this week ahead of their Graduation Mass and dinner next Wednesday evening and Year 7 and 8 students are busy concluding assessments and demonstrating their learning for the year.

Our Year 10 musicians had a great night on Friday at the Cabaret Club, and I thank Maria Russell and families for facilitating this opportunity.

Damascus students proudly represented the College at wreath-laying ceremonies in Ballarat and Buninyong over the weekend to commemorate the centenary of the armistice that preceded the end of WW1. Damascus was presented with a definitive history of the Battle of Long Tan at the Buninyong celebrations, which will be available through the St Martin’s Resource Centre. It was great to see Damascus students in their role in the Army Reserve fulfilling official duties as part of the presentations, and I congratulate Harrison Hunt and Kynan Lee. We conducted a ceremony to mark the event at the College on Monday morning.

This weekend some of our intermediate girls and senior boys are rowing in the Melbourne Head Regatta, and we wish them well for this competition.

Students in Years 9 and 10 will work on an alternative timetable next Monday addressing a variety of content including study techniques for the senior years, wellbeing, driver safety and numeracy testing. Students who have missed exams from Year 9 – 11 will also have the chance to make them up on Monday.

Next Tuesday 20th November is a student free day – it is a professional practice day for staff as they prepare to begin the early start program on Wednesday 21st and conclude correction of assessment of this semester’s work. As I have indicated previously, all students will move up to their next year level on Wednesday 21st and students will need the resources outlined in the Early Start Booklist. Student timetables will be available through SIMON and PAM throughout the day on Tuesday. It will be important to note the days that students have PE to ensure students are appropriately equipped for their classes.

Within the Early Start Program, where we have new staff starting at the College, we have tried to engage them for this period. Where that has not been possible, we have drawn on existing staff, particularly Year 7 teachers to ensure that students begin their program with consistent and quality teaching, ready for the next staff member to pick up the learning program. These next two weeks are assessable learning and will contribute to semester one grades for 2019.

While we are concluding classes for this semester and preparing to move into next year, there are a number of Damascus staff who will conclude their service to the College at the end of the year. I have already announced the retirement of Jo Kennedy. Jo began at Sacred Heart College in 1985 having taught at CRC Melton prior to that. Following her ten years at Sacred Heart, she joined the amalgamated Damascus staff and moved into the newly established Assistant Principal role of Student Wellbeing in 2012. Her 33 years’ service to Damascus and Sacred Heart is a remarkable effort!!

Mark McLean will conclude his time at Damascus at the end of this year as he explores exciting opportunities in Queensland. Mark is a former student of St Paul’s College, and he began his career in Catholic Education at St Paul’s College in 1983 in Lydiard Street. Mark moved with the St Paul’s staff to Victoria Street in 1990 and also became a part of the amalgamated staff team in 1995. Mark’s contribution as a teacher to the College has been remarkable, and his leadership of the EBT program is quite extraordinary. His 35 years of service to this school community include recognition of Mark through the Catherine King community shield award. The EBT sub-community celebrated Mark’s contribution at an event at Bray Raceway on 20th October.

Greg Dow is another long-standing member of staff who will retire at the conclusion of 2018. Greg has engaged hundreds of young men and women in a love of English and Legal Studies across over 30 years in this community. Greg has held leadership roles most recently in Professional Practice, but prior to that he was VCE Coordinator and fulfilled various other responsibilities throughout his time. Greg’s Damascus journey began at St Martin’s in the Pines in 1989, which makes this his 30th year of Catholic Education in Ballarat. Greg also taught at Therry College in Broadmeadows during (1981-83), St Leo’s College in Box Hill (1984-86) and CLC in Eltham (87-88). 37 years of Catholic Education is a great achievement, and I congratulate Greg on his retirement.

Min Myers will also move on from Damascus at the end of 2018. Min has been a stalwart of the Languages department throughout her time here at the College. She has led the English and Languages team amongst her many other contributions. She has always had a great affinity for her students and colleagues and a wonderful care of those around her. The French Immersion Trip has been an enormous contribution by Min over the past decade. Min joined the St Martin’s in the Pines staff in 1992 before becoming part if the amalgamated Damascus staff in 1995. Min’s career has seen her teach from Prep to Year 12, beginning her Catholic teaching at St Mary’s in Sale in 1977 and over her 40 years has worked at St Francis Xavier, St Alipius and St Columba’s. Her 26-year contribution to Damascus has been extraordinary, and I know Min is still looking at education opportunities beyond her Damascus experience.

Ronda Metcalfe will also finish up at the end of 2018. Ronda has been a face of welcome and warmth in the St Martin’s Resource Centre since she joined the team in 2001 at Victoria Street before coming out to Mt Clear in 2011. Ronda’s seventeen years here have been a great gift to this community, and we wish her well in retirement.

Jane McKendrick will commence a period of leave for Term 1 2019 and will return to the College for Term 2 prior to retirement at the commencement of Term 3. Jane has been a member of the Damascus staff for the past 12 years and has been a key contributor to Damascus English particularly in the senior years. She has been a committed and hard-working educator. Jane has had 21 years in education including 8 Years at MacKillop College in Swan Hill.

I congratulate these six staff on their contribution to Damascus and wish them well as they approach these final weeks of their education career here. Together they have over 150 years of collective knowledge and wisdom within this community and substantially more within education. This is something that we have all benefitted from and which will be celebrated as the year draws to a close. In next week’s newsletter, I will introduce the new staff who will join our community.

In the gospel last week we heard of the woman who gave her two coins in the temple. This small offering was all that she had. The comparison of the relative contribution of the much wealthier Scribes and the Pharisees was drawn. As students and families struggle with the many competing demands for our time and the challenges of assessment and high workloads - it is relevant to draw on the scripture story to ask whether we are giving all that we have or are we holding something back. We pray that as Christian people we are able to look to give of our gifts with a spirit of generosity and joy and not feel burdened by our giving. We make this prayer of our loving God.

We pray for Dot Sell who is our Chief Examiner whose father passed away over the weekend and for staff member, Sally Murphy and her family, as her father is very unwell. We pray for all those who need the support of others at this time.

Until next week …


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