Wow! What a Term it has been

As we come to the end of Term 2, I think we should all take a moment to reflect on what has surely been an unprecedented time in human history. In years to come, we will remember these weeks when the entire world stayed at home, and, as students and teachers, we all learned and taught from home.

The world has become a very different place during the last 12 weeks, and the way we learn, interact and conduct our lives has changed a great deal in a relatively short time. I hope that we can remember this as a period where great cultural learning took place and look to the future with positivity, hope and optimism. 

Term 2 has been a difficult time for us all, and now we can take this three-week break to collectively catch our breath, recover, and prepare for the remainder of the year. While the impact of the pandemic is far from over, we have, both as a school a nation, endured an extraordinary time.

What have we learned? What can we take into the future? 

My own view is that we are all a bit more resilient than we were at the beginning of the year. We are also more cautious with our decision making and less prepared to take risks. Across society, we have seen many examples of innovation and creativity as people have pivoted to develop new ways of doing. In particular, education has moved quickly to create alternative ways to learn outside the classroom. 

To be able to move, as we did, to online learning, took enormous effort and collaboration. While it wasn't perfect for everyone, it did demonstrate how quickly we can shift, change and work together to find solutions to difficult problems. In discussion with a parent last week, I mentioned that I felt like each week threw up a fresh challenge, with more hard decisions to be made and many new problems to be solved.

Above all else, we have learned that human contact is a necessary component in all of our lives. The ability to mix, collaborate and learn together is a distinctly human characteristic, and this has been realised, more than ever, during the last 12 weeks. As our students and teachers returned to campus, the smiles on their faces as they greeted each other for the first time, were priceless. They missed each other and the need to come to school each day; to learn, to socialise and to connect with others is critical to our wellbeing and sense of self.

Challenges and confirmations

Personally, this has been a difficult term for me to start as the new Principal of Woodleigh School. Many challenges have come our way and leading a School during this time has been trying at times. However, I have been amazed by the level of support and the sense of community that exists at Woodleigh. Professionally, I have never been happier. To watch our students come to School each day with smiles on their faces and an authenticity that cannot be replicated has been an absolute joy. Woodleigh students are genuine, they are present, and they love their School. 

I have also really enjoyed meeting, working with and developing a professional relationship with Woodleigh's passionate team of staff. From my first few days, when I was working in a largely empty school, through to today, I have been amazed by the level of passion and dedication shown by all. In particular, as we've moved out of our zoom environments and back to a more personal face-to-face situation, it has been wonderful to get to know my new colleagues and their unique personalities. I am incredibly grateful to be leading a staff who have worked so tirelessly throughout this term to relearn every aspect of their roles and move into a new working environment with such a positive outlook.

Thank you too to the parents and families of our School for your efforts and support during Term 2. This term has been difficult for everyone, and many members of our community have been under enormous strain. I thank you for committing to Woodleigh, for supporting the School as it implemented new and challenging ways for students to learn and, importantly, for your patience. Many members of our community have experienced extreme financial hardship during the COVID-19 period. Coupled with the added stresses of supervising children at home, this has made for some incredibly challenging times. I understand and acknowledge these difficulties and encourage families who need continued support to please contact the School.

Progress toward Term 3

There are still many decisions to make regarding different aspects of our School program. These involve Sport, Activities, the Outdoor Education Program and external learning opportunities. Our decision-making for each of these programs will be guided by Victorian Government advice, and I intend to send out further communication regarding this before we return for Term 3. Because of this ongoing uncertainty, we are delaying the issue of our Term 3 fees until week 1 of Term 3 when we will have more clarity around the programs we can offer. 

Next semester, Mr David Vaughan will be taking well-deserved long service leave. His classes will be covered by Mr Greg Davies (Year 12 Physics) and Ms Cassandra Kitto (Year 11 and 10 Physics). Ms Kitto will also take Mr Davies Unit 2 Specialist Maths class. We wish David all the best for his leave.

We also thank Miss Hayley Brewin for her contributions during Terms 1 and 2 covering Mr Nick Harrison’s classes while he was on leave.

I wish you all a fantastic holiday break. I hope you can use this time to refresh, renew and reconnect with friends and family. I also hope you can all find time to reflect on some of what has been achieved this year and move forward, feeling confident that we can tackle whatever it is that lies ahead.

Best wishes for a great holiday break,