Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Week 4 Term 1 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

It has been encouraging to see our new Kindergarten children settling into their school routines so happily over the past two weeks. Congratulations to all parents for your wonderful support in this task. We also thank our students for making our new Kindergarten children feel so welcome at St Mary’s School.

Our new playground facilities have certainly been a delightful addition to the school and our students are enjoying the space and freedom which has been created. The transition to the new learning spaces is currently in place with all classes hopefully in their new rooms by the end of next week. The builders are finalising some minor defects on the first and second floors of the building before we are issued with the occupation certificate. There will be much to celebrate when we finally have all students working in their new learning spaces.

Our academic year has started smoothly with initial assessments and ongoing testing providing additional valuable information to ensure that strong and appropriate learning programs are in place. Our focus is equally directed to ensuring a schooling environment that supports social and emotional wellbeing. For us as adults, both as educators and parents, we want our students to be strong, courageous individuals with the capacity to stand true to their beliefs, to stand up against victimisation and to stand tall with integrity and honesty. Such courage is not innate, but comes with practice and when opportunities present for such actions to be taken.

The ability to persevere, delay gratification and find an inner strength to show grit when experiencing challenges and adversity is essential to our students’ wellbeing. We seek parent support in modelling a positive mindset and an enabling view so that this is the reality for each and every student at St Mary’s.

This year we will have the support of a School Counsellor, Mrs Tamara Murrell as part of the staffing allocation from Sydney Catholic Schools. Tamara will work closely with teachers and parents in the support of students with their wellbeing who need professional help to enrich their learning opportunities while at school. Tamara will work at St Mary’s on Wednesdays and Thursdays and referrals are to be made through my principal’s office. Our focus on student wellbeing links closely with the Sydney Catholic Schools theme for 2018 which is taken from Luke’s Gospel (1:30) “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God”
This message is taken from The Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus. The action statement we are working with at St Mary’s as our school theme is: Do not be afraid – Be courageous – Be adventurous – God loves you!

St Mary’s is a wonderful Faith community and I look forward to our first class Mass for Kindergarten and Year 6 students and their families this Sunday in St Mary’s Church at 9.00 am.

Next Friday March 2 at 6.30pm we welcome all families to the annual Meet and Greet celebration that will be a wonderful way to catch up with friends and welcome new members to the school community. A special thanks goes to our Parents and Friends Committee, particularly Susan Vaz for organising this lovely celebration.  I would also like to thank our Year 5 parents for the delicious morning tea they generously arranged after the Opening Mass held earlier this month.

May the week ahead be a peaceful one for all families.

Beverly Coffey


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Term 4 - Week 4 2017

Dear Parents and Friends,

The P&F AGM is on this Wednesday 7th November at 7pm.  I invite all parents and friends to come along.  I would like to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge the work of Hamish Hutton (President), Tony Woods (Treasurer) and Ben Farmer (Secretary) who will be stepping down.  Hamish will be leaving the school at the end of the year, for a few years at least, until his youngest child starts school.  We looked through our photos to find a picture of Hamish, who was in so many - helping out at school events or working tirelessly behind the scenes of school events.  This photo of Hamish at a recent swimming carnival sums up his support for the school.  Thank you Hamish, you will be missed by all.  Tony and Ben will be around for a few more years and I would like to thank them both for their encouragement and obvious love of the school.  

It was wonderful to see Nellie B in Year 6 receive the Fred Hollows Award for Humanity at Parliament House from Gabi Hollows and Education Minister Rob Stokes.  Nellie was recognised for her efforts in fundraising and raising awareness of Refugees during Refugee Week. Nellie’s teacher Mr Andrew King, recognised her potential and encouraged her to take part in the campaign. Photos of Nellie receiving her award are on the School Blog.  Well done Nellie, we are proud of you!

Our children continue to inspire us with their sporting achievements. Hamish S and Charlie D in Year 5 are representing the school at a high level in cricket and basketball respectively next week. We wish them every success!

I warmly invite all parents and friends to our upcoming Celebration of Learning on Tuesday 14 November between 9-10am.  This is a wonderful opportunity to see our classes in action and be part of our community of learners. Every parent knows the difference an outstanding teacher makes. We see it in a child who begins to ask good questions about how the world works. Large-scale research clearly shows that in any given school year, the single biggest factor that affects how much a student will learn is his or her individual teacher. It is no wonder that when we think of schools that meet students’ changing needs, the first thing many think of is great educators.

The best teachers are active researchers, in two important ways. Firstly they are researchers of their students: they carefully observe their pupils, and from knowing them deeply, are able to engage them in learning that is both meaningful to their own lives and academically enriching. Secondly, they are researchers in the practice of teaching, actively seeking out strategies as educational data on the field evolves and children’s needs change.
We look forward to seeing you at our Learning Celebrations.

In the busy lead up to the Season of Advent it is easy for us all to forget to take time out and reflect on who we are as people of faith. In the words of Pope Francis we can take great joy. “From my point of view, God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us.” Go forth and enjoy the busy weeks ahead.

Enjoy a relaxing weekend.

Peace and God bless,

Principal's News Term 4 - Week 3

Dear Parents and Friends,

A warm welcome back to the final school term for 2017!

 The following weeks will bring great excitement as we prepare for our new learning spaces following the building project.  Our new school will ensure that the teachers have the resources, space and inspiration they need to realize the full potential of every student.

The estimated date for completion of the building project will be January 29th which will allow the St Mary’s staff the necessary time to move in before school commences on Wednesday January 31st. Once all classes are settled we will be inviting all families to be part of a special tour to see the classrooms in action.  As you can imagine all staff members and students are looking forward with great anticipation to working within the new spaces.

During the Spring vacation I had the opportunity to visit a number of progressive schools in Toronto, Canada. These schools have been established to provide an education where young people can be successful as individuals through magnificent teaching and leading where there is a focus on high-quality relationships, pedagogy and belief in children’s competence. These schools are deeply rooted in their communities and foster innovators, nimble problem-solvers and engaged citizens, boosting math comprehension, cultivating creativity and using technology to broaden the parameters of learning. They are exploring why the role of schools is expanding to nurture students’ social-emotional skills and growth mindsets, and how vital this broader definition of education is to children’s long-term health, happiness and success. I could see strong links between the Australian schools and of those in the province of Ontario in the realisation of this vision and how we as parents and teachers work closely together.

It was a delightful experience to participate in Mrs Kate Crisp’s Year 2 class liturgy this morning. The children spoke about the significance of the values of love and compassion in our world today and how as children they respond to each other in the class and in their own families. These opportunities where children can focus on their faith through the scripture stories and relate it to everyday living where they themselves can make a difference is a powerful means of learning. It was very encouraging to see our beautiful children reflecting in this positive way.

Enjoy a relaxing weekend.

Beverly Coffey

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Term 3 Week 10 2017

Dear Parents and Friends,

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time
They just have the heart
Elizabeth Andrew

In these busy times, it is easy to forgot to thank the people who are constantly volunteering their time and expertise.  Our parents volunteer around the school each and every day in morning car line, in the classroom, on the P&F and School Advisory Council.

Last Saturday night we celebrated our annual fundraiser - the Big Night Out.  As usual, an extraordinary amount of effort went into a fabulous and enjoyable evening.  We would like to acknowledge the efforts of Year 3, in particular Susan Vaz, Katie Delaney, Cait Ryan, Shauna Milani, Lynette Ireland, Alanna Antcliff, Michelle Abbey, Nicole McPeake and  Deb Taylor.   A big thank you to Craig Donnell for a wonderful job as MC on his birthday (and thanks to Larissa Huntington for making the birthday cake!)

A big thank you to our BNO sponsors, who have been named on the School Blog.

This Saturday night is the student’s turn with the School Disco.  Thank you in advance to Rebecca Ruis and Adrienne Langdon for bravely taking on this task! We expect that the children will respect the volunteer parents and remember that they are representatives of the school. Ms Kaye will be keeping an eye on proceedings. We thank her for giving up her time for the children.

Last night (Thursday 14th September) we enjoyed a wonderful showcase of talent at the “Voices of St Mary’s”. Representatives from Years 3-6 gave fantastic performances of stories, poetry and song. The senior choir and an instrumental group also performed showing great talent and as usual were inspiring. Thank you and well done to Mrs Lavick, Danielle, all the staff and students. Congratulations also to the beautiful St Mary’s Adult P&F choir on concluding the evening with their rendition of the Irish Blessing.

It is with pleasure that we will be welcoming Bishop Terry Brady at the Parish Healing Mass at 10.30am on Wednesday 20 September in the Ron Dyer Gathering Space and also on Friday 22 September at School Assembly.  You are all welcome to attend.

Next Friday 22 September is the end of Term 3.  We have had moments of sadness and moments of joy this term and we are very much looking forward to starting afresh next term as we enter the Season of Advent and the coming of Christ.  We look forward to celebrating the many happy events on the School Calendar with our School community.

Enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Julie Hunt

Acting Principal

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Term 3 Week 4 2017

Dear Parents and Friends,

This week we celebrated the Feast of Blessed Mary Mackillop with our students. This was an occasion to recall a life that embodied characteristics 'integral to the Australian identity', including a sense of a fair go for everyone, and her willingness to stand on the side of people often referred to as the 'Aussie Battler.'

The message of the feast challenges each Australian to know the God who is with us, to embrace with a compassionate heart those who travel the journey with us and to believe that each person can and does make a difference in our world. Our students identify these values as part of our school mission.

Mary Mackillop's innate goodness and her down to earth approach to life, her ability to bring hope and purpose in the midst of suffering has given Australians freedom to be spiritual. Mary is not a Saint to be admired from afar. She is a person who truly understands the everyday life of people, their struggle and their joys. Our students are very proud of their colour house of Mackillop and its message. 'Never see a need without doing something about it.'

This message of generosity and making a difference extends to our parent community especially for their support of our biggest fundraiser for the year the Big Night Out. As our new learning spaces are currently being constructed we are fundraising for our new Library Space. This space will bring traditional books and interactive digital technology together in a contemporary setting which will inspire students to love reading.

We need your support to make this happen.

Please buy a ticket and come along and enjoy the St Mary's Community in a fun night.

'The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, distracts and excites. It gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.' 

- Elizabeth Hardwick. 

Building Update

All levels have been completed.  This Saturday columns will be poured ready for the structural steel to complete the roof.

The basement and ground floor have been cleared of props so plumbers and electricians can start the fit out.  Work is also continuing on the western fa├žade.

Thank you for your support of St Mary’s.

Kind regards,
Beverly Coffey

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Welcome to Term 3 2017

Dear Parents and Friends,

Welcome to Term 3.  

I trust that you all enjoyed a happy and restful winter break with your family and now feel re-energised for the busy term ahead. It's encouraging to see the children returning to school with a healthy enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Let's keep that spirit alive!

Term 3 will be interesting with the various activities planned, so we look forward to working closely with you. I am confident that from the many learning experiences that St Mary's School is able to offer and under the guidance of our dedicated staff, that our students will continue to progress with confidence.

Our children continue to inspire us with their remarkable achievements.  On 4th August we have a number of children representing the school at the Eastern Region Athletics Trial. Yesterday Cathy Z in Year 2 was announced a finalist in the Young Archibald Competition.  Cathy's picture of her brother William is on display at the Art Gallery of NSW until 22 October 2017.  Recently Orlando was highly commended in the 2017 NSW Storytelling Competition, the only Year 5 student in the State to reach the final stage of competition.  Lachlan in Year 6 is currently representing Australia in the US Kids Golf World Championship and closer to home, Josh in Year 6 recently received an award in the North Sydney Young Writers Competition.  Each child has a gift, and it is pleasing to see so many using their talents to aspire, inspire and make a difference.

Building Update

The School Holidays provided opportunity for major electrical installation work in the administration section of the school as well as continued work on the building site.
Comms Room:  New flooring and a new Server were installed in the Comms Room.  Extensive cabling was laid under the kinder courtyard and Principal's office as well as in the roof cavities, all of which will eventually connect to the new building. 
Jacaranda Pruning:  The Jacaranda was pruned under Arborist instruction.
New Building:  The new building is definitely taking shape - it is an exciting time as each day reveals more shape and form.  Scaffold is now up, last level concrete pour early next month, with structural steel and roof to follow.

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend.

Beverly Coffey,

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Term 2 Week 4

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Dear Parents and Friends,

Change is part of life.  When St Mary’s opened it’s doors on 26th February 1888, North Sydney was a working class area.  The two-roomed school was surrounded by bush on one side and paddocks on the other.  By 1913 enrolments had reached 300 boys.  The year of 1956 saw the demolition of many nearby homes to build the Warringah Freeway, subsequently enrolments started to drop, to a low of 69 in 1978.  From 1980 enrolments started to increase once again, the school growing in size to cater for all those who desire a Catholic education for their child. We currently have 373 students enrolled with three more classes planned by the end of 2020.

Our building project is progressing well now and we are looking forward to our ten new learning spaces, library, canteen and playground areas. Over the coming weeks staff, students and parents will have an opportunity to collaborate on how we utilise these new learning spaces for excellence in student learning.

This week I have been involved in a review of education in Sydney Catholic Schools as a panel member looking specifically at the quality of teaching and learning in our systemic schools and the opportunities for student engagement across the primary school curriculum. It has been encouraging to see many outstanding examples of dedicated teachers and leaders in our primary schools and the positive impact they are having on student learning,

Thank you to the Year 2 parents, led by class mums Joan Larkin, Nicci Rowe, Tara Egger and Genevieve Costelloe for the wonderful Mother’s Day breakfast.  Indeed it was very special to savour the many delights! Thank you also to all those who were part of the very special liturgy that followed.

May I also take this opportunity to personally thank the parents who were involved in my recent contract renewal process. Your encouragement was greatly appreciated as we work closely together in the development of our school community over the next few years.

A school calendar update was sent out earlier this week.  There are many upcoming events of which you are kindly invited to take part.

Best wishes
God bless

Beverly Coffey