Fantastic Work Through a Difficult Time

Greetings Families and Friends,

Although I am seeing very few people at this stage of the term, I'm humbled by the phone conversations and emails I have received that have been so supportive and encouraging. Thank you for your kind words acknowledging your appreciation of the continuous learning that has occurred throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. All staff at the school have been working extraordinarily hard – the fantastic work the Penbank team has achieved delivering the Continuous Learning Plan is providing your children with the opportunity to engage in learning in the home environment actively. Parents, you are doing a fantastic job too!

Thank you, everyone.

I also understand the CLP has presented some difficulties for some children and families. We have been pleased to support these students onsite.

Welcome David 

It is with pleasure that I welcome Woodleigh’s sixth Principal, Mr David Baker, to our school. Although a most unusual beginning for David, I wish him the very best of success in his principalship of Woodleigh School. 

Early Learning News

All Early Learning centres have been open throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. Consequently, it has been an excellent time to get to know the Penbank ELC littlies who have been learning and playing in the quiet of the Penbank environment. To begin the term, both Early Learning groups have been small in size, recently increasing to more than half of the children now attending each day. On Friday, we will see ELG/4 teacher; Lacey Rochford conclude her time leading the ELG/4 Group when she heads off on Maternity Leave and awaits the arrival of her baby. We are all very excited for Lacey, who intends to take leave for the remainder of the year. 

To replace Lacey, we will welcome Mel Flooks as the lead teacher of ELG/4. Mel has been working alongside Lacey throughout the year so that we can look forward to a very smooth transition for the children in the 4-year-old group. Arcadia Shannon-Jones, who has been working in ELG/3, will join the 4's as co-educator to Mel. We are delighted that Cadie will be working full-time in our ELC for the remainder of the year. Such an excellent team! I extend our thanks and best wishes to Lacey for her care of our little 4s and the safe arrival of her baby, expected end of June.

Zooming Ahead

Since my last Letter Home, it has been seven weeks since I have personally engaged with our school community. Meetings and conversations have been by phone, email, and via Zoom. We are pulling through well - incredible milestones being achieved, speed learning various ICT platforms and programs to communicate and deliver our education. A stellar effort!

School Meeting via Zoom has reflected the values we wish to impart to our students. Thinking about others and reflecting on the differences between environments and cultures supports our children in developing a greater understanding and empathy for the wider world. Dealing with struggles (reflected in the ANZAC School Meeting) improves the resilience to manage difficulties with courage and fortitude. Importantly, being active and living a healthy life promotes overall wellbeing. Our most recent School Meeting sent thoughts of gratitude and love to all Mums so…

Happy Mother's Day to the wonderful women and carers in our lives!

Thank you to Britt and her Prep Group for putting together this wonderful set of Mother's Day messages!

COVID-19 – An Opportunity to Build Resilience – Resilience Project

The Resilience Project, established by Hugh Van Cuylenburg, delivers emotionally engaging programs to schools, sports clubs, and businesses, providing practical, evidence-based, positive mental health strategies to build resilience and happiness.

Through presentations, wellbeing journals, school curriculum, professional learning, and The Resilience Project app, directors Hugh, with fellow director, Martin Heppell, seek to help all Australians become mentally healthy.

Martin Heppell from The Resilience Project presenting at Woodleigh School

It was a pleasure to recently hear Hugh speak to staff from Minimbah and Penbank about the importance of focusing on our mental health, and especially so, during this time of isolation. 

Building resilience develops the ability to cope with life's challenges. During childhood, when children learn how to bounce back from difficulties that are a part of everyday life, children develop skills that enable them to deal with stress as adolescents, then onto adulthood, in response to a stressful or traumatic experience. 

Hugh's key message was if you wish to feel happy and improve mental health you need to practice

  1. Gratitude
  2. Empathy
  3. Mindfulness

And that's every day!

Hugh reminded us that happiness comes from doing good things for other people and focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can't do. 

Excellent messages to remember!

For parents, Hugh will be presenting via Zoom at the school's next Parent Education Session, Thursday 14th May, at 7.00 pm. I encourage you all to join the group – Hugh will undoubtedly provide some excellent and practical advice. 

There are some positives in our isolation…

School at home is not like school onsite; there have been many opportunities that have come from this time at home.

There has undoubtedly been…

  • More family time, kids don't have to wait for mum and dad to arrive home from work; they are already there! Of course, this is not so for all. We have several parents who are involved in the health services who are working harder than ever and in the front line of risk, but how lucky are we to have them!
  • Breakfast times are not a rush! It's a little like Saturday morning every day with the family starting the day together. 
  • Families planning their workday together – work at home for parents - school at home for kids!
  • More walking - neighbourhoods have come to life while keeping a distance. Our puppies are happier too!
  • Fresh and clean air – we are paying greater attention to hygiene – the streets, beaches, playgrounds, shopping centres are sparkling, and the lack of congestion and quiet on the roads has been a gift! Taking action to clean up the environment and address climate change may resultantly be universally acted. 
  • A little more time together – mum, dad, and kids. Sadly, not so for grandparents, but it won't be forever.

·  Limited commuting to work has enabled families to manage work and life responsibilities better. There is less stress and greater wellbeing, but not so for families who have lost jobs or employment prospects. But political parties are working in bipartisan – agendas have been dropped (for the most part), and community care has come to the fore. Thank you, JobKeeper!

While reflecting on the extremely challenging circumstances for millions of people, we can be grateful for our country's health system and the protection of communities in need. Many areas of Australia provide space and beauty – feeling very thankful for our island home right now.

Although there have been these benefits, we will still be keen to return to our work, school, and routines that give us a buzz in life and the connectedness that comes from being a part of a community at home and beyond. 

We will continue to keep in touch. I again sincerely thank the work of all school staff for reaching out to our families in our quest to continue to educate, inspire, and connect. 

Take care and stay safe and well!

My warmest regards,

Head of Penbank – Deputy Principal, Woodleigh School

Fundraiser for Leo

Our thoughts are with the Lane family from Wugularr. The youngest of Kathleen Lane's children, little Leo, is seriously ill in Adelaide hospital. He will be undergoing treatment for the next 18 months.

Consequently, Kathleen and little Leo will be alone in Adelaide throughout this time. Kathleen does not know anyone in Adelaide, and especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, will need the support of others to enable the family to visit from time to time, once border restrictions have lifted. 

Kathleen has limited supplies and personal belongings in Adelaide, such as clothing and basic essentials, so a donation to a fundraiser for little Leo that has been set up by community government official, Deanna Kennedy, would be much appreciated. 

The Lane family has been most generous in their participation with the Wugubank Partnership. Tango, Kathleen's dad, has shared cultural knowledge with Penbank children when in Wugularr for the past ten years, and Kathleen has been to Penbank with the Wugularr mob numerous times.

The Lane family are fond friends and family. They are especially in need during this tough time. Our thoughts are with Kathleen, her partner, Ronnie, and children, Reharnee, Michael (partners Kim and Caitlyn), and Angel, who stayed with the Lee family last year.

Visit Leo's Fundraiser