Gippsland Grammar news: July 30, 2021

Jul 30, 2021 | Bairnsdale News, Community News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

As Mark Twain once said, ‘continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection’. At Gippsland Grammar we encourage our students to continually improve in all they do. This philosophy is something that sits naturally in an educational context and, as such, I am proud of how our staff models the same ethos. It truly is a Passion for Excellence.

Over the past year, I have lost count of the number of times that I have heard staff collaborating and sharing ideas with each another. Their conversations have centred around modifying their techniques and strategies, as a way to improve how they are fulfilling their roles. It is very exciting and I am very proud of their desire to keep improving.

Our new Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning Mrs Michele Wakeham has called for teachers from each of our three campuses to form a focus group on how Gippsland Grammar can improve our Learn@Home model for all students. This group will review and evaluate our program as well as seek feedback from all stakeholders as they progress their research and discussions. We look forward to hearing from this group of teachers as they progress their planning.

As I walk around each of our campuses, I often see the following poster on display. It is part of our ongoing reminder about the importance of Child Safety in our Community. As Principal, I am determined to ensure our School is safe for all of our students.  All staff are required to be fit to work with children and must comply with the School’s Child Protection and Safety Policy and our Child Safety Code of Conduct. Gippsland Grammar’s priority is the protection and welfare of its students.

Thank you to the staff who supervised the students of authorised and essential workers who studied onsite as part of our Learn@Home@School program during the recent lockdown. Many of the staff were redeployed from the campus that they normally work from to accommodate the program and I thank them for their adaptability.

Finally, I would like to thank our families for your support of the work that is being done by our staff. Continuous improvement is a key to our success and I thank everyone for partnering with us in the education of our students.

Warm regards,
Leisa Harper

Early Learning Centre news by ELC Director Lisa Burgess
Welcome to Early Learning Matters Week 2021! From July 26-30, early childhood educators, parents, carers and community leaders come together to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of early learning.

In last week’s newsletter, I spoke about recent research that provides evidence that not only does a quality early childhood education support later life-long wellbeing and educational and social outcomes; it actually can change brain structure itself. The importance of the input that children receive at home, in their community and by participating in a high-quality early childhood program such as the Early Learning Centre supports children to be confident, enthusiastic learners, building a foundation for wellbeing and achievement throughout their lives.

I feel privileged to have spent my professional career as an early childhood educator; however I have often observed that the important work that early childhood teachers do can be dismissed as ‘just playing with little kids’. Play is the most important way children learn and develop and is skilfully observed, planned for, and scaffolded by our teachers to ensure that children are being extended in their physical, social, emotional, linguistic, and cognitive development. At Gippsland Grammar’s Early Learning Centres, our children participate in programs that extend, challenge, and inspire children to be curious, resilient, and capable lifelong learners – critical foundations for learning that will catapult them into future years of schooling and life.

I want to share with you part of a recent TED talk that has delighted my team. It relates to brain science and early childhood development, particularly around the concept of ‘serve and return’. It highlights the importance of our everyday interactions with our children.

Why Early Childhood Matters, by St Anne’s Transition Teacher Danielle Carpenter
Early Childhood has always been a passion of mine. From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I find teaching four and five-year-olds so rewarding; they are just becoming aware of who they are and are so keen to learn about this world. They are like little sponges soaking up any information through hands-on exploration, listening to stories, experimentation, trial and error, and asking many questions. Early Childhood is often seen as ‘just playing’ to the untrained eye but, on any given day, I can witness a child successfully put on their jacket by themselves, work out how to make their way across an obstacle course they have always seen as ‘too hard’ or discover that mixing two colours creates a whole new colour. Through their eyes, nature is a marvellous world full of interesting animals, plants, birds, and insects. Early childhood teachers are responsible for educating the next generation about how to keep the environment healthy. We also help to develop relationships that involve cooperation and collaboration. I feel very honoured to be an Early Childhood teacher at the ELC and have the privilege to watch these little people blossom over their Transition year.

Why Early Childhood Matters by Bairnsdale Transition teacher Sharon Smith (pictured below with William)
Welcome to Early Childhood Matters Week. Recently I caught up with a former colleague who I attended college with at Kew’s Institute of Early Childhood Development. She was astounded that I was still working in Early Childhood after all these years. She bemoaned the age group, the parent involvement and the rigorous rules and regulations. I cheekily replied, a good early learning teacher was only appreciated by those who had one. But later, reflecting on her comments, I recognised that all the things she disliked were the very aspects that I enjoy. Working in the Early Childhood sector holds as much appeal and reward for me today as it did in my first year of teaching. It is a great privilege to work with children and their families to facilitate the growth and development that occurs in all domains. To witness the transformation from a young child to an enthusiastic independent learner is simply amazing. Watching a group of children be kind and considerate to each other fills me with hope for the future. To join the children as they acknowledge the First Nation people and actively participate in acts of sustainability gives me faith in the world to come, where today’s children will live and lead. Working in Early Childhood is full of fun, happiness, care and consideration; and reminds me every day to live like a child, to enjoy the here and now, and to share those moments with the ones you love the most.

Thank you to Sharon and Danielle for sharing their thoughts about why being an early childhood teacher is important to them. I feel so fortunate to have such passionate and committed educators as a part of our ELC team. Have a lovely week, and remember Early Childhood is a big start for little people.

Bairnsdale Transition teacher Sharon Smith with ELC student William.

Bairnsdale Campus news by Head of Campus Virginia Evans
We were all grateful to hear the announcement on Tuesday that our students were able to return to school; to have them back in the classroom has been a big relief for all. However, returning to school also presents its challenges for some and we are here to support and address those needs. Shifting from one learning space to the other changes routines, interrupts friendships and can distract our focus. Together we will navigate through these challenges and continue to build a strong sense of belonging to our School.

Mrs Penny Rankin and Mrs Elisha Froud continue to work with our two teams, last week working online and this week working at school to prepare their response to the challenge. Teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving and of course decision making all feature in their preparation. Thank you to all involved for your commitment to this challenge. I’m sure we all look forward to the weekend ahead, supposedly a lovely one to enjoy the outdoors.

Taking inspiration from our Australian athletes in Tokyo and the pride in representing our country, our students from Foundation to Year 6 today participated with great spirit for their House in our Athletics Carnival. With the absence of parent helpers and spectators we relied heavily on our staff and Year 6 leaders for both organisation and leadership. Today our Year 6 students proved their strength as a class, rising to the occasion and our staff once again worked tirelessly for our students. I sincerely thank our whole Community for continuing our role in educating our students, your children. Particular thanks to Mrs Elisha Froud who, despite our interruptions, has prepared our students confidently for the day and as always organised a terrific Athletics Carnival.

Year 6 leader Charlotte showing leadership by helping Ella with sunscreen (above left); and Ms Whelan with Year 1 students Koah, Alston, Byron and Spencer enjoying the carnival (above right).

St Anne’s Campus news by Head of Campus Jie Van Berkel
Welcome back! Firstly, thank you to our School Community for our efforts throughout Learn@Home and our subsequent return to school. Many of my conversations with students, parents and teachers have focused on the challenges of this lockdown while also celebrating coming back to School. I would like to personally thank our teachers and staff for their professionalism and willingness to assist our students.  As a School, we are looking at how we can flip to Learn@Home more quickly and other improvements we could make. We have a team working on this, and I look forward to sharing our refinements and improvements in the coming weeks.

The recently revised State Government School guidelines now allow:

  • Swimming lessons (starting back on Tuesday)
  • Library lessons and borrowing of books
  • Sports, such as athletics

At St Anne’s, we are fortunate to have Dean Susanna Pain, Chaplain Jackie and Bishop Richard providing spiritual guidance during our Fellowships. Dean Susanna Pain was going to speak at today’s Fellowship but instead, she has sent through a meaningful prayer to help us through this challenging time.

Loving God,
Help us
to focus on what we have
not on what is removed or changed.
Strengthen us
when we feel discouraged
or overwhelmed.
Embrace us
so that us we know your loving presence
within us and among us.
Walk with us
as we bring your love,
and carry your light,
into our world.
– Sandra Lucas

Due to current restrictions, we had to modify this week’s House Spelling competition with our spelling competitors completed in Year levels over the past two days. Our students’ ability to demonstrate confidence and spelling skills always inspire me. The House Spelling Champions for 2021 are:

Foundation (pictured below)
1st       Aaron Thomas – Cranswick Dargo
2nd      Lillian Greenwell – Wellington Binks
3rd       Darcy Williamson – Tisdall Hotham
4th       Sage Lancaster – Blundell Bogong

Year 1
1st       Tab Coggan – Wellington Binks
2nd      Aiden Young – Cranswick Dargo
3rd       Eadie Johnson – Blundell Bogong
4th       Aspen Marshall –  Tisdall Hotham

Year 2
1st       Rithun Shesan – Cranswick Dargo
2nd      Max Santorelli – Tisdall Hotham
3rd       Alana Jansen Van Resnburg – Blundell Bogong
4th       George McNaughton – Wellington Binks

Year 3
1st       Evie Barbetti – Tisdall Hotham
2nd      Anna Sellings – Blundell Bogong
3rd       Frankie Balfour – Cranswick Dargo
4th       Kobi Stevens – Wellington Binks

Year 4
1st       Max Williamson – Tisdall Hotahm
2nd      Rory McMillan – Blundell Bogong
3rd       Felix Baxter – Cranswick Dargo
4th       Lulu Hodges – Wellington Binks

Year 5
1st       Nahian Uddin – Cranswick Dargo
2nd      Risheet Shee – Blundell Bogong
3rd       Jon Del Mastro – Tisdall Hotham
4th       Ella Lamb – Wellington Binks

Year 6
1st       Harry Stephenson – Cranswick Dargo
2nd      Shevan Fernando – Tisdall Hotham
3rd       Olivia Clyne – Blundell Bogong
4th       Lexie McNaughton – Wellington Binks

Our overall results are:
1st       Cranswick Dargo
2nd      Tisdall Hotham
3rd       Blundell Bogong
4th       Wellington Binks

Hopefully I do not sound like a broken record, but … due to COVID-19 restrictions we have had to reschedule our School photos. We will have more information available in the coming weeks.

The new date for the St Anne’s Inter-House Athletics Carnival will be Wednesday August 11 at our Garnsey campus. All students from Year 2 to Year 6 will be involved while students from Foundation to Year 1 will have a separate athletics experience at a later date. Students should wear their House polo shirts for this occasion and will need warm clothing, water and food for the day. Canteen food will not be available. This event will be ‘spectator free’ as parents and spectators are unable to attend the event as per the current COVID-19 State Government recommendations. If this should change closer to the date, we will be sure to let you know.

Finally, can I please ask families to remember the following:
– students can come onsite from 8.30am each morning. We also need students to be picked up from our gates straight after school. We have had some students playing after school in the playground but we are not able to provide supervision at this time and for safety reasons this is not permitted.
– students need to make sure they are following are uniform guidelines. All students should be in full winter uniform, which includes wearing their blazer to and from school and, of course, wearing their uniform with respect and pride.

Have a great weekend with your family.

A perk of Learn@Home for Year 3 student Max Del Busso was being able to study alongside his dog Chino (above left); and Foundation Spelling Bee winners Aaron Thomas, Lillian Greenwell, Darcy Williamson and Sage Lancaster (above right).

Garnsey Campus news by Head of Campus Kate Ray
It is hard to believe that we are at the end of Week 3 of Term 3 today. In some ways it feels like it should be further into the term and I am sure that some of our students feel the same.

I was speaking with a colleague in Melbourne earlier this week and her comment was ‘I feel like I have pivoted so much I am practically a ballerina!’. I had to agree with her.

When we have these unsettling times, it is reassuring to be able to hold onto the routine and structure of our school day and while for some of us it was incredibly challenging to return to school mid-week, it has been wonderful to see how well our students have returned.

With current restrictions in mind our staff are planning and adjusting upcoming programs, excursions and camps to ensure our students are still provided with rich and educational experiences.

I hope you found last week’s shared link useful, this week I have included another link referring to ways to support our children in uncertain times:

Performing Arts news by Director of Performing Arts Dr Kevin Cameron
As we enter Term 3, our attention moves to our coming production of Matilda. But in addition to this, choirs and jazz bands have also made a welcome return to the rehearsal room; we have welcomed new staff to the Music Centre team and we have created an exciting new Concert Band. COVID-19 restrictions have again impacted our operations for a few days … but the music will play on!

The cast and orchestra of Matilda arrived back to School at the end of the holidays to experience a transformed Garnsey Hall, complete with a spectacular stage set, orchestra pit and the beginnings of lighting and sound.  Excitement is building as we work hard to complete final preparations for the performance season; the recent lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions have seen us tentatively delay performances to the end of Week 6 and we will confirm these details with everyone as soon as we are able.

Shortly will see the beginning of a new concert band in our band structure at Gippsland Grammar. This new ensemble will be for students who have recently started playing, or who have kept their instruments going after completing last semester’s Band Classes in Years 7 and 8. All interested students playing a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument are warmly invited to join. Rehearsals are on Mondays in the Music Studio, commencing at 3.30pm.

Our Semester 1 Band Classes in Years 7 and 8 have concluded and it is very pleasing to know that a number of students from these classes are continuing to explore the instruments they commenced as beginning students at the start of this year. The Music Centre is currently accepting new enrolments in the Music Tuition Program for Semester 2 across all campus sites. Students interested in taking lessons on any of the wide range of instruments offered should discuss with their families and complete the online form that may be accessed here:

We are particularly keen to build all of our studios because we know that learning and playing instruments has a dramatic positive impact on the development of students. We especially welcome interest from students wishing to learn voice and low brass, percussion and bass guitar.

We welcome two new staff members to the Music Centre this term:  Mr Ryan Lestrange and Ms Lauren Patullo. Ryan Lestrange is an accomplished professional teacher and guitar performer with a wide range of musical experiences. He is a Gippsland local and brings a positive outlook and strong work ethic to his work with students and works to achieve the best outcomes for a diverse range of students on their musical journey. Lauren Patullo has an established background in brass and concert bands playing trumpet and cornet and brings broad experience as a specialist in teaching beginning students.

Music is very important for wellbeing and continuity. For these reasons, all of our instrumental lessons continued online during this latest lockdown as part of the Learn@Home programme. Thank you to all students, instrumental teachers and parents for your tenacity to keep going despite all the difficulties such a disruption to normal routines may bring.

Catch up on last week’s newsletter here:

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