From the Principal
The College has for some time been discussing the concept of a name change for our fortnightly newsletter, i.e. ‘Newsprint.’ The thinking is that a more traditional name for a news/media publication would be preferable; something to tie in with our heritage and identity rather than a generic title.
This term we launch our fortnightly newsletter under the new name of ‘The Duce’ (pronounced do-chay). Our Latin motto Deo Duce – With God as Leader – is an intrinsic feature of De La Salle; reflecting our identity and our mission as a school.
With the translation of the Latin ‘Duce’ to the English ‘Leader’, we have a fitting, suitable and appropriate name for a media publication. It has clear and distinct links to our College via the motto so well known to all in our Lasallian community and in the translation, ‘The Leader’ is a common name for a newspaper, journal etc.
I hope you continue to enjoy what is our most accessible and popular form of mass communication to our De La Salle College community.
Innovation and Improvement
Welcome back for Term 2 and as the term gets underway there is already a good deal to report as the College continues to grow, develop and change. When I began in this role last year one of my key messages around my vision for the school was the need to preserve and celebrate all that is great about De La Salle, but to also have the courage to create the future of our choice. Much of the emphasis and change evident has been focused on the learning and teaching sphere, but a Pastoral Care Review Team has made a range of recommendations in relation to all aspects of student wellbeing. These will come to fruition over the coming months.
To orchestrate these changes is a challenging process and with the stakes obviously very high, we have been determined to get it right. Wide consultation and research with staff, parents and colleagues in like schools has been of enormous benefit. Key strategies have been to develop a sense of urgency around the required changes, to establish our vision and then — critically — communicate very effectively to ensure there has been involvement and buy-in from our staff. Integral to this has been targeted work with staff involving presentation of strategies, data, research, new technologies and pedagogical approaches which influence how we all feel about our work and our roles within the College.
This process has facilitated – and necessitated – the empowerment of a range of staff as they take on various leadership positions, both formal and informal, to support, lead and drive innovation in our College. As Principal, I have been thrilled with the work our staff are leading as they collaborate and contribute to our commitment to ongoing improvement.
Last Monday staff Professional Learning Teams presented the initiatives they have been working on in relation to Action Research Projects across a wide range of areas. The program involves identifying a topic where we’d like to see improvement, devising and running a specific activity/program and then measuring the results. Themes being covered include literacy in a range of areas, from the general to as specific as teaching literacy skills for VCE Physical Education. Samples of other projects include incorporating the use of digital technologies to enhance learning, new approaches to foreign languages, numeracy pedagogy and skills, critical thinking, inquiry based learning, analysis of student assessment data, performing arts and the power of feedback.
A key improvement strategy for 2015 has been the introduction of interviews with all Year 12 staff around the analysis of data to inform the development of improved practice this year. Along with Deputy Principal – Learning & Teaching Mr Mark Gustincic, I have had some terrific conversations with VCE teachers, who articulate their reflection on 2014 results and the range of data available from VCAA and explain how new ideas and understandings from the process are feeding both team and individual innovation for this year.
Along this theme, in the Easter holidays, Mr David Alexander, Director of Learning & Development – Experiential Learning, attended the World Education Leadership Summit in Singapore. I believe it is crucial our staff have access to cutting edge developments in 21st century education and Mr Alexander’s feedback from the two day summit, listening to six renowned educational leaders presenting on key themes, was inspiring and produced many ideas for our continued school improvement. Mr Alexander was also able to visit two international schools in Singapore and Brunei, again brining home many new ideas on classroom design, data analysis, student wellbeing and curriculum.
Last week I attended a function at the Catholic Leadership Centre to celebrate the graduation of 20 Catholic school teachers from their Master of School Leadership in Numeracy at Monash University. Director of Learning and Development – Student Progression Ms Lucy Russell was among those to complete the Masters degree. Ms Russell has already embedded a range of strategies and approaches to our numeracy program and this is a typical example of our students continuing to benefit from our staff’s willingness to engage in postgraduate studies, wider research and innovation to support improved learning outcomes. Ms Russell was invited to speak on behalf of the secondary Maths teachers in the cohort and articulated very clearly the enormous benefits of the program.
Mother’s Day Breakfast
Next Friday 1 May is our second annual Mother’s Day Breakfast. I must thank Julie Car from the Parent Network and all who have assisted her, who have done such a great job promoting and organising the event. We are sold out again this year, so with in excess of 330 attending it promises to be another great community event at De La Salle College.
Time and Space
Year 8 Father and Son Evening
Monday 27 April, Tiverton Gymnasium 7:30pm
The junior secondary father-son program ‘Stepping Up’ is a great practical way to get an action plan happening for the journey across the ‘bridge of adolescence’. This session is fun… it’s planned with blokes’ communication in mind and provides an opportunity for fathers and sons to genuinely hear where the other is coming from.
There are still places available for Monday evening. Run by Bill Jennings, founder of Time and Space, these are amazing programs that practically assist a healthy transition for boys — not just the school transition but the early journey that the boys make at this stage of their lives towards adulthood.
Please contact Personal Development Coordinator Ms Joanna Dickson to book a place. This can be done right up to Monday afternoon.
Excitement is mounting as the opening night for Grease approaches. Next Wednesday 29 April sees the culmination of so many months of planning and rehearsal as Monash University’s Alexander Theatre hosts the opening night. I have dropped in several times to see rehearsals and it is fantastic to see so many talented artists singing, acting, dancing and playing the music. Many schools use professional musicians for their productions but our young men and their counterparts from Our Lady of Sacred Heart (OLSH) in Bentleigh have demonstrated their talents are well and truly up to the task.
This is the first event in our partnership with OLSH to develop opportunities in the Performing Arts and we look forward to a long association.
It has been great to catch up with so many families at the Parent-Teacher Interviews in the past two weeks. While the focus is clearly academic these days are also an opportunity to enhance community ties as we build relationships between staff, students and parents. I would encourage all students to take particular note of recommendations for improvement as the end of semester assessments will come around very quickly. Our capacity to track and measure student progress – rather than simply achievement in a given time or task — is another theme the College is exploring this year. The aim, as ever, is to provide students and families with feedback, encouragement and clarity around what we expect of their learning and to reinforce the high standards and expectations.
Mr Peter Houlihan