Gippsland Grammar newsletter: April 17, 2020

Apr 17, 2020 | Principal's News, Uncategorised

It’s great to have everyone back for our new-look Term 2. While most of us aren’t learning or teaching on-site at any of our School’s three campuses, thanks to our Learn@Home program there is still plenty of learning and teaching going on and it’s been a pleasure for me to witness the resilience of our entire community during these challenging times. 

Of course, this smooth transition into a new way of learning and teaching wouldn’t have happened without the considerable effort from all of our staff over the break, which ensured online lessons were ready to go and that our students were well-prepared when they logged into VOS on Wednesday morning. I would like to take this opportunity to share my sincere thanks to all of my new colleagues, it has made my transition into our community so much easier and I will remember it always. 

Watching our teachers and professional support staff embrace this new style of working has made me reflect a lot on our collective resilience in the face of adversity which, in turn, made me reflect on the redwood tree. I spoke about this remarkable tree to our staff and students this week and now I would like to share my thoughts with our families. Redwood trees grow from a seed no larger than a tomato seed yet they grow to a height of a 35-storey building. When I heard this I assumed the trees would have very deep roots, but they don’t. Redwood trees actually have roots that extend out either side of the trunk, which is how they create their stability. As a tree, redwoods don’t do well on their own. The tree’s secret to success is teamwork and resilience as the roots grow outward and entwine with the roots of the trees who are near them. Together the trees are formidable against the forces of nature and, as a forest they survive as a result of their resilience and teamwork. In these times, our staff, students and community needs to be like the redwood tree and link together, look out for one another and to care for one another to ensure we all stand tall and manage through this moment in time.

Last night’s Year 12 information night on Zoom went really well and it was great to see so many families involved. This information session was recorded and will be available on VOS for Year 12 families who were unable to attend.

Teachers and families caught up online for a Year 12 information night earlier this week.

At this stage St Paul’s Cathedral will still hold its annual Book Fair in July and are currently collecting books for this. While some of our families are at home, it might be a time to go through what books could be donated to this worthy cause.

A free online parenting conference featuring more than 25 parenting and resilience experts will be held from April 19-24. To find out more information please visit

I would like to take this opportunity to share some tips about internet safety from cybersafety expert Susan McLean:

– the use of computers, laptops or any internet-enabled devices (iPad, phone, iPod, Xbox) should be in a common area of the house and not in the bedroom

– parental monitoring is vital, walk past and see what your child is doing, who they are talking to and what sites they are on. Be aware if their mood changes. This is not invading their privacy at all…it is parenting in the digital space

– advise your child to immediately exit any site that makes them feel uncomfortable or worried. Basic protective behaviour principles apply

– if receiving harassing messages on social media, have the sender blocked and report to the site

– have a family internet contract and set house rules about what information your child can put onto websites or share with others

– be aware the majority of children will not tell a parent/teacher if bullied or harassed online for fear that they will lose internet access. Make sure that your children understand that they will not get in trouble if they tell you about a problem

– Spend time online with children, just as you would with many other activities such as sport, board games and walking the dog – learn and explore together

– Install filters and other monitoring/blocking software to minimise dangers. This is already done in schools but should also be done at home

– children under 13 are not allowed on Facebook, Instagram, Kik, SnapChat, iTunes and many more social media sites. Don’t support your child to break the rules and they won’t be the only one without these accounts. Learn to say no

– Whatever sites your children use, you must use as well. Set up accounts on the same sites to ensure that they are suitable and the interactions appropriate. Engage with them online. This also allows you to know how these applications work

– Do not let young children Google aimlessly with no supervision.

– Children need to be taught about search engines and how they work

Our School’s motto, ‘the truth shall let you free’ is from the Gospel of John (verse 8:32) and reflects Jesus talking to a group of Jews who believed in him. For us at this time, I believe it is important to reflect on the fruit of the spirit to enable us to understand more about ourselves and this period of time. The nine attributes that make up the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They were created to provide people with ways of living in accord with the Holy Spirit. I am confident that every member of our community can reflect on these attributes so that their interactions with one another are supportive, caring and promote a refreshed way of interacting, during these uncertain times.

Kind regards,

Leisa Harper

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