Coming Together: A Message from the Head of Campus

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful conference in Jakarta, learning about Compassionate Systems Awareness. The Compassionate Systems Collective is a growing network of people, schools, and organisations globally who are committed to advancing change in education through an integrated focus on systems thinking, systems sensing, and social-emotional learning.

The goal of this ‘system’ is to nurture and develop people who can engage with complexity, embrace diversity and develop compassionate, collaborative approaches to addressing real-world challenges. The focus of their work aligns with Woodleigh’s mission - the purposeful development of creative, compassionate, skillful, and resilient young people who can thrive in an ever-changing world.

Our mission is both aspirational and a big challenge - not one we have a precise formula for as educators. However, what we do know is that feeling safe, loved, cared for and valued are vital to personal growth, learning and, most importantly, wellbeing. Without wellness, we cannot function optimally. The conference explored a series of measurable tools that can be implemented to promote a deeper sense of wellbeing in both our lives to create compassionate spaces. We can all lead, learn and interact with each other in a positive way to create a generative space for us all to grow.

Unfortunately, during my week offsite, I missed two key ‘live’ events – the Arty Market and our annual Perberkoong event. The Arty Market is a large-scale community event I have heard much about since starting at the School. Unfortunately, COVID-19 impacted its ability to run over the last couple years and, as you would all agree, it's an event that was clearly missed by everyone.

Perberkoong is our special end-of-year celebration where our students present live music and re-enact the nativity scene. The term ‘Perberkoong’ is unique term gifted to Woodleigh for this event by N’arweet Caroline Briggs, Senior Elder, Chairperson and Founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation. Perberkoong means ‘Come Together’ in Boon Wurrung language. It’s a time for us to come together and celebrate a year in the life of Woodleigh; our achievements and our challenges, reflecting on our own journey as part of our school.

This year, the concept of ‘coming together’ has a more heartfelt meaning to us as a community. We endured the trials and tribulations of COVID restrictions in 2020/21. The opportunity to be together, unite and enjoy each other's company has been valued this year and this was particularly evident in the feedback about these two wonderful events. We are re-connecting as a society and the importance of coming together has become cherished and not taken for granted.

It has been wonderful to see Woodleigh come alive this year.

I wish you a safe and happy festive season with those you love. Take care and I look forward to reconnecting with you in 2023.

Head of Senior Campus