Dear Parents & Carers,
I hope this newsletter finds you and your family well.
COLLEGE CAMPUS & STAFFING UPDATE
The College has followed the Government and health departments’ directives of having all staff work from home wherever possible. Some jobs, however, owing to their nature can not be completed at home, such as staff involved in looking after the campus, tuckshop, preschool, library, iAssist, and the health centre. We also have teachers rostered on to supervise a small number of students whose parents work in emergency services or who can not find alternatives.
Our teachers have been busy working hard in the new environment of online learning and making adjustments to the feedback we are receiving from students, parents, staff and other schools. I have weekly contact with over fifty independent and catholic schools in Sydney, and I am hearing about similar successes and challenges. Our Heads of Department and Heads of House continue to meet weekly with respective College Leadership Team members to fine-tune our practices.
Teachers across the nation are grappling with this new environment. Virtual learning is quite exciting from one perspective, as the forced change in the delivery of teaching and learning will account for the largest change in education for quite some time. I am sure there will be innovative practices and learnings that will be embedded into our existing practice when we return to on-campus learning. Good pedagogical practice, whether online or face-to-face should be varied and creative to cater to individual needs.
TEACHING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DAYS
The calendar already has Monday 27 April earmarked as a staff professional development day. The College is also going to utilise Tuesday 28 April as a professional development day for our teaching staff to work on program development and faculty meeting time. As I said earlier, I am monitoring what is happening at other schools. Some are finishing Term 1 from this Friday, while others are taking some time next week to provide teachers with valuable collaboration time. For our context, I believe one extra day at the start of Term 2 will better serve our teachers and ultimately our students. This will mean that both the 27 and 28 April will be off-campus, student free days at the College.
I would like to thank and acknowledge all of the staff for their tremendous efforts and dedication in these changing and challenging times. Forty-five of our staff have dependent children at home to also manage while fulfilling their work commitments. I commend all our staff on their commitment to the College and your son’s education journey. Please communicate through the appropriate channels if you have any concerns or questions regarding your son’s learning or wellbeing.
DEALING WITH CHANGE
The usual energy and clamour of inspired young minds at work, which usually fill our corridors and quadrangle is eerily absent at Waverley. And, when I walked the campus grounds in this last week, I felt a tremendous feeling of quiet and absence that we associate with loss and grief. It is our community, being together that gives our school life. This loss and a disconnection from the routines, busy life and people coupled with feelings of fear for the elderly, for people’s economic loss and for countries where their health systems are not at the same level of ours have become the loud noises we hear.
David Kessler, author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, would describe the discomfort I, and many of us, are feeling at the moment as the feeling of grief. In fact, it is ‘collective grief’, because it is having such a widespread impact across our community.
We are also feeling what Kessler describes as ‘anticipatory grief’ which is the feeling one gets when what the future holds is uncertain. It is the same feeling you have when someone you know receives a dire medical diagnosis. We know we are in the midst of a worldwide diagnosis, but we are not sure what it will bring. Our instinctive mind knows something bad is happening, but with a virus we can not see it and this can bring with it feelings of insecurity.
To create security, Kessler suggests that we can seek to find balance in the things we are thinking about. For example, if your son sees the worst image taking shape, ask him to balance it by thinking of the best image. Neither image should be ignored but neither should dominate either. Balance is not always easily attained and when we support those around us we do so with patience and compassion.
How can we manage these complex feelings?
Kessler encourages us to name the feeling of grief and feel it and let it move through you. Emotions need motion and by acknowledging where you are at, you have already taken a step in the right direction. Secondly, by understanding the stages of grief, we can help our mind to scaffold this unknown world.
1) DENIAL – the virus won’t affect us
2) ANGER – you are making me stay at home and taking my activities away from me
3) BARGAINING – if I social distance for two weeks everything will be all okay
4) SADNESS – I don’t know when this will end
5) ACCEPTANCE – this is happening and I need to figure out how to proceed
6) MEANING – we seek the meaning of the darkness, through gratitude and changing our mindset, we can find the light.
(Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler’s six stages of grief)
Acceptance is where the power lies. We can find some more control of this situation through acceptance. I can wash my hands, I can keep a safe distance from people and I can learn how to work virtually. Positive steps, moving forward and working towards gratitude can help us to quiet the loud noises of what we are hearing of suffering and the impact of the virus and allow the positive noises of our community (in some cases over the phone and in our online learning community) to fill our minds.
In seeking ‘meaning’, I can be grateful that we can still connect through the technology we have which brings us back together to a Waverley that can adapt, respond and remain united.
NESA 2020 YEAR 12 UPDATE
Yesterday, the NESA COVID-19 Response Committee met to consider a number of key issues about the 2020 HSC. First and foremost and as confirmed last week, students will have the opportunity to receive their HSC credential this year. Students will be able to continue with the next chapter of their lives, whether that’s university, an apprenticeship or TAFE in 2021.
Effective immediately the Committee agreed to:
- give Principals and system authorities the power to determine the number, type and weighting of tasks for Year 11 school-based assessment, in line with the decision communicated last week for HSC students
- lift the requirement for VET students to undertake NESA mandated work placements
- cancel mandatory group performance exam in Drama and the mandatory ensemble performance exam in Music Extension
- modify other performance exams that breach social distancing requirements.
Detailed advice about today’s decisions will be available on the NESA website early next week.
The College is currently working closely with tour operators and travel insurance companies in regards to the postponement or cancellations of overseas tours. There are a large number of schools and groups who are currently in the same position and we appreciate your patience around this. We will continue to update the College’s position on these tours as we receive further information.
After 26 years of distinguished service, Mr Anthony Evans is finishing up at the College at the end of this Term.
Anthony began his time at Waverley College as a Year 5 student in 1973 and graduated with the Year 12 Class of 1980. He was the Cadet Unit’s Head of Medics from 1978-80, a College Prefect during his final year, and received the CUO Officer’s Staff award. Throughout Anthony’s time at the College, he has held the position of Chaplain for the Sodality of Our Lady. He has passionately shared his faith and value system across his pursuits at the College with both students, parents and staff.
Anthony became a member of the St. John Ambulance Brigade from 1985, attending College and CAS games as an ambulance officer. Following graduation, he worked at St Vincent’s Hospital (1981-83) and joined the NSW Ambulance Service. From 1983-93 he served in the Ambulance Coordination Centre (HQ).
After serving the community in the Ambulance Brigade, Anthony commenced employment at Waverley College in 1994 as the Student Administration Officer and Cadet Unit Adjutant and 2IC with the rank of Major (AAC). He has contributed significantly to the Cadet Program and the overall leadership and development of young men at the College. Anthony’s medical skills and care also ensured boys were treated professionally when they had accidents or illnesses at school and there are several examples where his quick actions saved the boy’s lives.
Anthony has been willing to share his personal story of his Aboriginal heritage and support boys in their cultural and spiritual development. Anthony is planning on moving closer to family in Newcastle and to pursue some other work interests. We can not farewell Anthony appropriately at this time of restricted gatherings, but he is keen to return to the College at a later date. On behalf of the College community, I would like to wish Anthony all the best with his future endeavours.