From the Principal

While we were all enjoying the term break prior to and over Easter a good deal has been happening in the Lasallian world and here at De La Salle. 

We celebrate the formal opening of our Year 9 Holy Eucharist Campus next week; a significant milestone for the College, which I’ll return to later in this article.

On Sunday 7 April throughout our Lasallian world, we celebrated three hundred years since the death of John Baptist de La Salle at St Yon in Rouen on Good Friday 1719. The Tercentenary of the Founder’s death is a major focus this year, with the theme of “One Heart, One Commitment, One Life”.

In introducing us to this Tercentenary Year and Year of Lasallian Vocations, Br Robert Schieler, Superior General wrote:

One Heart reminds us that as educators we have a responsibility to touch the hearts of children. It also reminds us that like the first Brothers we are communities of educators associated from the heart.

One Commitment renews our call to provide a human and Christian education to the poor, the young and adults entrusted to our care and try to be good educators in all that we do.

One Life shares our hope for the Lasallian mission and brings to mind how we should follow De La Salle’s footprints by answering God’s calls in our lives just as De La Salle did in his day.

Br Robert Schieler, Superior Genera 

We have also celebrated four significant milestones during the break.

Our Brother Visitor, Br David Hawke celebrated his Golden Jubilee in Pakistan on the evening of 8 April. Br David has been a terrific supporter of our work at Malvern and I am sure you’ll join me in congratulating him on such a wonderful contribution to the Lasallian mission over half a century of service.

One of our Board Directors, Br Sir Patrick Lynch celebrates his Diamond Jubilee (60 years) this month. This is an extraordinary achievement and a fitting recognition of Br Sir Patrick’s phenomenal contribution to Catholic and Lasallian education in New Zealand and Australia. 

Also celebrating Golden Jubilees are former De La Salle Malvern resident staff, Br John Pill and Br Gerry Barrett, both well known to and fondly remembered by many of our longer-serving staff. We congratulate these Brothers on their service and commitment.

The College was saddened to learn of the death of Br Julian Watson fsc.

Please pray for the eternal rest of our beloved Brother Julian Watson who passed away peacefully on 12 April, aged 97. Br Julian, the doyen of the District, one of its treasures, served faithfully as a De La Salle Brother for over 80 years across Australia and New Zealand. We pray for Julian’s eternal rest, for the Malvern community and for his brother Ray and sister-in-law Rosemary. Julian was well known to many of us at Malvern from serving here up until 1993 and as a resident in the Brothers’ community. 

May Julian rest in peace. 

On Thursday 7 May, we will formally open the new Year 9 Holy Eucharist Campus. This bold venture has been a terrific success. The staff and students have embraced the opportunity and made the campus their own. Pursuing an agenda of innovation, students’ independence and responsibility for learning, the new curriculum is proving to be beneficial and engaging for all.

I was sent an article this week from the New York Times, which highlighted the value of moving beyond our mainstream curriculum and engaging students in the world around them to make learning more relevant. It is very gratifying to see the recommendations from international research are already in train at Holy Eucharist. 

Schools need to become much more deeply attached to the world beyond their walls. Extra-curriculars gain much of their power from their connections to their associated professional domains. School subjects, in comparison, feel devoid of context. Promising schools tackle this dilemma in different ways: Some use project-based learning to engage students in their local communities; some collaborate with museums, employer, community.  All of these choices bring meaning to work that is too often taught in a vacuum.

Teachers need both more freedom and more support. They need longer class periods, opportunities for collaboration and teaching loads small enough to allow them to form real relationships with students. They need expectations for topic coverage that permit more opportunities for depth. They need districts that focus less on compliance and more on helping teachers learn in rich ways that parallel how those teachers might teach their students. Finally, teachers need parents who ask, “What is my child curious about?” rather than “How did he do on the test?”

Most important of all, high school students need to be granted much more agency, responsibility and choice. While there are some things that everyone should know, much of what will help students in college and beyond are skills: the ability to speak and write persuasively, to reason and engage with one another’s reasoning and to think about core content in complicated ways. Happily, there are multiple paths to achieving these ends. Students can choose what scientific puzzles to explore and what English or history electives to take while still developing a shared foundation of skills.

As we celebrate the wonderful gains and tremendous experience of our Year 9 students and staff at Holy Eucharist in 2019, I would like to pay tribute to Holy Eucharist Campus Coordinator, Mr David Alexander, Learning Coordinator, Ms Lauren Anderson and their team of dedicated staff, supported by Deputy Principal, Learning and Teaching Mr Mark Gustincic. The adventure continues!

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2019 06 - 2 May 2019