Starting on the right path

If the first two weeks are anything to go by, 2018 at St John’s is going to be amazing. I have received a very friendly, warm and uniquely St John’s welcome from students, staff and parents and have found that this community and school resonates strongly with my own values and beliefs.

And so, let me begin at the beginning, which is after all a very good place to start. Starting strongly and with intent is incredibly important, a message I gave to the Senior School this week. We begin a new year with determination, ambition and hope. The beginning is a time to set goals and plans for the year ahead – to dream big.

Of course, to be successful, we must equip ourselves with the skills, structures and supports to enable us, individually and collectively, to soar higher. Senior School students need these structures to enable their success. Simple parameters that ensure adequate sleep (approx. 8-10 hours http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/sleep_early_teens.html ), exercise, responsibility, relaxation and study are essential. As families settle into the routine of the term with sport and music practices being confirmed, it is important to make sure that success is being given the time it needs.

Targeted well-being lessons and discussions have begun with all Senior School students to increase their understanding and capacity for ensuring academic and life success. Reinforcing this learning with family conversations deepens the partnership with parents and the school, ensuring greater opportunity for success.

Deepening partnerships is certainly a core goal for me this year. Of particular focus is a strong, collaborative relationship between parents and the Senior School so that students understand that we are working together to support them. As we strive to improve in 2018, please know that communication, and parent connection and engagement are a focus for this improvement in the Senior School, as well as across the whole school.

Developing leadership capacity and skills is also a central goal in 2018. Our Year 10 Leadership Day provided an excellent opportunity to encourage all Year 10s to consider their own leadership strengths and how this diversity of unique strengths are valuable and useful. While the hot weather altered plans a little, we were able to hear an amazing performance from Sacred Stone as well as to provide a range of workshops and activities for the students. The Year 10s have certainly demonstrated their growing maturity and readiness for life in the Senior School and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with them.

Next week will be the Year 12 Retreat and Induction. Students will be encouraged to really consider developing their personal “playbook”, through a range of informative and reflective learning activities. Stuart Henshall, 2017 Dux, provided a very inspiring and informative speech to the whole school on our first day, but his message was particularly relevant to our Senior School students. Stuart encouraged all students to discover and respect their own learning style and to have the agility to change strategies as required – to develop and apply your own playbook.

While I may have started at the beginning, I will now close by considering the end – the purpose for Year 12 – the final results. This year we are absolutely committed to enabling even better results for our students. After the wonderful success of 2017, we now set our sights even higher. A determine and diligent start to the year is the first step in ensuring 2018 is our best year yet.

I look forward to meeting you all personally soon.

Leonie Harwood
Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School