Thursday, 25 February 2016

What is the PTA?

What is a PTA?

Last night we had an PTA information meeting. This is a copy of the slideshow with the information that was presented.

At the end of the meeting there was a really positive feeling towards setting up the Foundation PTA for St Francis of Assisi School and to this end we resolved to meet at 7pm next Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night we will be electing the officers and beginning to share ideas that can go towards the wish list.

Thanks so much to those who were able to come last night - those of you that were unable to come and would still like to join the PTA - you will be so welcome!

Looking forward to working with you all.

Jo Earl


Saturday, 13 February 2016

The Official Opening

Today (12th February) St Francis of Assisi Catholic School was officially opened by Fr John Adams who was standing in for our Bishop, Bishop Barry Jones, who is very unwell at present.

It was an exciting day for us. We had a wonderful opening ceremony. 

One of the highlights was the sharing of the Papal Blessing that we received (held here by Father Simon). 

Another highlight was the release of the doves to signify St Francis' love of animals.

Order of Ceremony

Greeting by Deputy Principals: Maire Bowler and Sarah Burrowes.  
Opening Prayer: Fr. Simon Eccleton
Korero:  Matua Maaka Tau
Song: He Honore
Welcome by Deputy Principals
Candle Ceremony: Team Leaders and Principal
  • Mr. Mike Nolan (Catholic Education Office)
  • Mrs. Alison Wilkie (Chairperson of Establishment Board of St Francis of Assisi School)
  • Mrs. Jo Earl (Principal)

Song: Ka Waiata
Bishop Designate: Fr. John Adams (Vicar of Education)
All invited to move outside.
Official Ribbon Cutting: Fr. John Adams.
Release of Doves (St Francis of Assisi is the Patron Saint of animals and birds.)
Release of balloons.

Song: St. Francis School Song

Here is the text of my speech - shared here for those who were unable to make it.
I also, extend a very warm welcome to everyone here. Thank you for taking the time to share in this special occasion with us.

I consider it a privilege to have been welcomed into this parish community as principal designate last year.

We are privileged within this Parish to have such a wonderful learning environment that enables us to be a progressive learning community. While we all know that it is not just about the buildings, we are very grateful to have these flexible learning spaces. I want to thank the huge team involved in creating this learning environment - from the planning stage right through to ensuring we were ready to open on February the 4th. This has been a huge project and it has been carried out by a variety of organisations and executed with passion and skill, I know how mammoth this job was, and we at St. Francis of Assisi appreciate your work.

I am really excited about the way forward for this school.  We have been particular about staffing the school with  enthusiastic, skilled, passionate and hardworking educators and I am really proud of the team that we have created, and the work that they have already undertaken to ensure St Francis of Assisi Catholic school was ready to open.

If we are doing our job of being a truly Catholic school, then the philosophy behind the school, the ethos we should have, the way we do things - should be distinctly Catholic. We aim to be a progressive Catholic School and to be the school of choice for Catholics in the St Francis of Assisi Parish area.

I want to thank Mike Nolan, Cushla O’Connor, Father Simon and Father Matthew for their support in helping us do our job of being a truly Catholic School.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with a supportive establishment board who have always had the best interests of the St. Francis of Assisi community at heart. They too have worked hard behind the scenes to establish St Francis of Assisi School. Thanks to Alison Wilkie and her team Matt Tippen, Tom Music,  Liz Gardiner and Bill Morgan and thanks to Terri Johnstone for her support and wisdom along the way.

There have been many people who have contributed to the successful establishment of our school including from the Ministry of Education, Jill Forgie, Murray Aiken and Coralanne Child, I appreciate your availability for all of my endless questions!

I would especially like to acknowledge Peter Callanan,  Chris Callaghan and Tom Scollard for their support of me as I transitioned to my new role. I have appreciated the valuable advice I have received.  

And now - the children - Ko te tamaiti te pūtake o te kaupapa - the children - the heart of the matter.

We are determined to take this opportunity to build a Catholic school that educates the whole person God created: academic, physical, spiritual, emotional, moral and creative. We will find ways to develop leadership, confidence, and community spirit. We will do this through our work in the classroom, the relationships students develop with their teachers, the relationships we build with our parent community and parish – and also through sport, cultural activities, Christian action, leadership, camps, prayer, and liturgy.

We are all in good heart and excited about the future, We are all here today for the children. Thank you everyone involved, for making our children your priority.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Teacher Only Days - Lead up to Day One.

Welcome to the school blog where you can read about our journey as we enter into this exciting time. 

Over the last couple of weeks the teachers and support staff have been working really hard to set up programmes that will challenge and excite our students.

This week we had three Teacher Only Days working collaboratively, learning together. 

On Day one we spent time looking at how we work in the workplace, at the makeup of our teaching teams, the similarities and differences between us and how we will work together to most effectively raise the achievement of the students we are working with. Lois Christmas, an education consultant facilitated this excellent session.

We had our first session on Growth mindset. We worked together to gain a good understanding of Growth mindset and to begin to develop a shared language that will promote Growth mindset in our students. We intend to share this information on Growth mindset with you soon on the website and in a parent information session later in the year. in the meantime here is short video to watch if you are interest in hearing more and a link to a short article.

Carol Dweck - The Power of Yet

On Day two our Director of Religious Studies (DRS) Suzanne Newton facilitated an excellent session that had us looking at our Charism (The charism refers to the distinct spirit that animates our community and gives it a particular character). We also discussed what best practice looks like in the delivery of RE. Teams spent time together planning the first RE integrated unit. Cushla O'connor (Primary RE Advisor) joined us for the morning also which was much appreciated.

Our afternoon was spent looking at Teaching as Inquiry and revisiting the Spirals of inquiry - talking about delving into our practice and really drilling down to find out what the data we collect is telling us about teaching and learning - and how we can improve student outcomes using this process.

We finished the day with some art workshops...check out this pic of our wonderful art!!

Day three started with the whole teaching and support staff team attending Mass together at 9.15am. This was a wonderful way to start the day and we were welcomed fully by Father Simon and Father Mathew at this Mass. They along with Kirsten from the parish office joined us for morning tea - which they provided! We know we are going to work so well together to ensure the spiritual guidance of your children is well covered!

After morning tea we had a session on blogging - Team blogs were set up and this is going to be one of the main ways each team will communicate with you this year. More information and links to follow - Watch this space.

What a wonderful three days... all we need now is some students!!!! Bring on Day One!