As I sat and thought about what I might write about this week, I felt that, being that time of the year, where we are celebrating our academic and other achievements, I might share with you the focus of my school magazine article. I hope that it provides some impetus to maintain a level of commitment and excellence and to ensure that we all complete the year well.
“To navigate through this world, students will need to develop curiosity, imagination, resilience, and self-regulation; they will need to respect and appreciate the ideas, perspectives and values of others; and they will need to cope with failure and rejection, and to move forward in the face of adversity. Their motivation will be more than getting a good job and a high income; they will also need to care about the well-being of their friends and families, their communities and the planet” (Foreword, OECD 2018).
In this, the Year of Youth, my magazine article is dedicated, as always, to our young women - our students - and poses some questions and ideas to challenge them in their thinking and reflections. Whether completing Year 7 as the newest members of our community, being one of our seniors and heading out of the gates for the last time (in the coming weeks), or being somewhere in between these two milestones, I know that [all] would have experienced some successes and learnt a great deal; that maybe you have even failed in something but, as a true Mt Alvernian, picked yourself up and progressed. Ultimately, I know that everyone has grown as an individual in some way because, here, we not only focus on you [the] student, guiding you in your studies, but we aim to provide the opportunity for you to learn about the needs of others, the global community, and to contribute and serve in whatever way possible.
So to our girls of Mt A:
As my role in the College is dedicated to Student Learning, I see it as my obligation to do all I can to help maximise the opportunities for learning - for all of you. This means that I, with all the teachers here, must continue to learn in order to keep abreast of the latest and most effective educational innovations and changes, of which there are many. As young people who sit in our classrooms every day, who do your best to achieve success, you may not always think about what occurs prior to the lessons beginning, the assessments being handed out, and the daily schedules that tick over day after day. However, much goes on to ensure that you are provided varied opportunities and experiences that assist you to reach the goals that you set yourselves each term, semester, and each year. We are very aware of the significance of helping you attain the skills, values, and attitudes that will best serve you in your future.
Q. So consider: What goals have you set this year, and have you achieved what you set out to do?
This year, the OECD published a position paper for education towards 2030, The Future We Want, where the attributes they believe are needed for young people to thrive in this world are outlined. They state that education should be committed to helping every learner develop as a whole person, fulfill his or her potential, and help shape a shared future built on the well-being of individuals, communities, and the planet (p3). I see much of what they outline mirrors the values we espouse here at Mt A, our central vision and mission for “the total development of our young women”, with the notion of “caring for the earth and humankind, working towards justice and building community”. I hope, this year, you have embraced some aspect of your learning in the light of these visions and missions.
Q. So consider: What have you accomplished and how will this serve you as you move forward?
Thank goodness that, in these times, school is very different to what it once was. Our college environment in the first instance is something that others view with awe, and our classrooms are intentionally designed to be flexible and learner-centred. Physical spaces are important, but of greater value is the practice of building relationships which is essential at Mt A, and I trust that, in the process of learning, you have experienced that sense of belonging we hold as central to our purpose. Needless to say, everything that we do may not necessarily suit all of you, every day of the year but, if you stop and reflect, I know you will identify the many times you have achieved; the times you connected with a teacher or another person and smiled; the times you have 'stopped to smell the roses' (literally); and those other times when someone helped you out. Remember that learning is not restricted to the classroom; on the contrary, learning occurs every minute of every day in all variety of ways. Even a stroll around our garden can be one of those times!
Q. So consider: What has been a significant learning for you this year? What is most memorable? What impact has it had on you as a young person?
For those of you who will be completing your time with us as a student at Mount Alvernia College, I trust that we have helped you become the person you wish to be, and that you will leave a strong legacy for us to remember you by. If you are continuing your Mt A journey, keep building and creating that legacy, it will serve you well into the future. Embrace all that comes your way, do what you love and enjoy, but also commit the effort to challenge yourself and serve others.
As Clare of Assisi espoused, “We become what we love, and who we love shapes what we become.”