A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL

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REFLECTING ON THE MONTH OF AUGUST

August is often considered the transitional month in our seasonal calendar. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the time of the year people begin to wind-down from their summer travels and vacations and prepare for Autumn — back to school, fall festivals, harvest time, etc. In our Hemisphere, we are experiencing the harshness of winter and look forward to the Spring. In our school calendar, the year takes on special seriousness for Year 12 as they prepare for their HSC and also for Year 11 as they transition into Year 12 during Term 4. The Church in her holy wisdom has provided a cycle of events in its liturgical year which allow the faithful to celebrate the major feasts in the life of Christ and Mary. Most notably, during August, we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) and the feast of the Assumption (August 15).

The other main feasts of this month are St. Alphonsus Ligouri (August 1), St. John Mary Vianney (August 4), Dedication of St. Mary Major (August 5), Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6), St. Sixtus II and Companions and St. Cajetan (August 7), St. Dominic (August 8), St. Lawrence (August 10), St. Clare (August 11), Jane Frances de Chantal (August 12), Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus (August 13), St. Maximilian Kolbe (August 14), St. John Eudes (August 19), St. Bernard (August 20), St. Pius X (August 21), the Queenship of Mary (August 22), St. Bartholomew (August 24), St. Louis of France (August 25), St. Monica (August 27), St. Augustine (August 28) and the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (August 29).

The feasts of St. Teresa Benedicta (August 9), St. Stephen of Hungary (August 16) and St. Rose of Lima (August 23) fall on a Sunday so they are superseded by the Sunday Liturgy.

A Time to Persevere

As if to re-ignite us, the Church offers us in the plethora of August feasts vivid examples of the virtue of perseverance: six martyrs — two who are named in Canon I of the Mass and two who were martyred during World War II; seven founders of religious congregations, as well as three popes and two kings; the apostle, St. Bartholomew; the great Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine and St. Monica, his mother; the humble patron saint of parish priests, St. John Vianney, and the patron of deacons, St. Lawrence, who joked with his executioners while being roasted alive.

It is never too late to begin — as the life of the reformed sinner, St. Augustine teaches us — nor too difficult to begin again, as demonstrated by the conversion of the martyr, St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein). We present-day members of the Mystical Body are certain of the reward to which we are called, for Christ’s Transfigured body (August 6) is a preview of that glory. Moreover, in the Assumption of his Mother (August 15), Our Lord has demonstrated his fidelity to his promise. Her privilege is “the highest fruit of the Redemption” and “our consoling assurance of the coming of our final hope — the glorification which is Christ’s” .

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the most perfect example of Christian perseverance, but she is also our advocate in heaven where she is crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth (August 22). Mary is the “Mother of Perpetual Help”, the patroness of the Congregation founded by St. Alphonsus Ligouri (August 1). “No one who has fled to her protection is left unaided” is the claim of the Memorarae of St. Bernard (August 20). Heretics have returned to the faith by the prayers of her Rosary, first preached by St. Dominic (August 8) in the twelfth Century, and hearts have been converted by the graces received while wearing her Miraculous Medal, promoted by St. Maximillian Kolbe (August 14) and adopted as the “badge” for the Pious Union he founded. Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope!

Students who need to work on their perseverance are urged to include the following prayer in their daily reflections:

vl2Hail, Holy Queen

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope!

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.

To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears!

Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this,

our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

 

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.

O God, whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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LOCAL TRAFFIC AND OBSERVANCES AROUND BETHANY COLLEGE

You are all aware of the traffic congestion around our educational precinct. I recently read about the issues facing Hurstville Public School and the problems being caused by parents and carers who refuse to obey the local traffic measures.

I write to you today to remind all parents that the St Michael’s Church driveway IS NOT A DESIGNATED DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP AREA for our students. I am so disappointed that some of our parents have challenged staff from the parish and the primary school about this matter. This area is parish area; not ours. Unequivocally, our girls are not to be dropped off or picked up from the Parish driveway area. Let me reiterate our traffic congestion and safety measures:

  • Drop off in the morning and pick up in the afternoon is in WARATAH STREET only. The best time for drop off that avoids the primary school rush is from 8 to 8:15am.
  • You could even consider a drop-off/pick-up spot in Botany Street where the girls can easily cross at the lights.

I have asked the parish staff and teachers from St Mary’s to take down licence plates of parents who are breaching our shared understanding of local traffic zones. If needs be, I will take steps to put in measures with our students themselves that will prevent them leaving or arriving from the front of the College.

I appreciate that there is inconvenience at times but it is better to run a little late than to cause the kind of congestion that will result in student injuries or fatalities. 

 

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NATIONAL ASSESSMENT PROGRAM- LITERACY AND NUMERACY (NAPLAN) 2016

In the next fortnight, NAPLAN reports will be sent home to parents of Year 7 and Year 9 who undertook the National Testing program in May this year.  At Bethany College, we firmly believe that solid literacy and numeracy skills form the basis of a sound education. The College has performed solidly in aspects of literacy and numeracy. We are proud of our students’ achievements and it is a tribute to the skills of our students and the dedication of our teaching staff and in the case of Year 7, to the teaching staff of the primary schools from which we draw. These results build upon the strong academic tradition at Bethany College and give us rich data on which to plan our teaching programs and target appropriate education plans.

We will continue to work on building the confidence and outcomes of our girls in Numeracy, an area that girls across the state generally underperform in comparison to males of their age group. Further, we continue to target Reading, the domain necessary to read and understand the many texts that the girls need to process across each Key Learning Area and Writing. Our Year 9 cohort will need further work and support in Reading and Numeracy. The following table shows a comparison of our school’s results compared with the State in the top and bottom two bands.

NAPLAN results 2016

We are especially proud of the Student Growth Rates in Year 9 Reading and Numeracy (Writing was unavailable) which measure students’ growth from May 2014. The figures and very encouraging for us and inspire us to keep on track with our learning initiatives in those areas. Year 10 (2017) will continue to find itself targeted to assist in improving their Reading, Writing and Numeracy.

Year 9 Expected Growth Reading

ART AND DESIGN SHOWCASE

On Wednesday 17 August, we were treated a wonderful exhibition of student work in Visual Arts and the Key Learning Area of Technology and Applied Studies (TAS). HSC Major works in Visual Arts and Textiles and Design were on display for all to see before being shipped off to the examiners. The students’ work was of a high standard and I thank Mr McLean (Visual Arts) and Mrs Rowland (TAS) for leading these successful faculties in creating such innovative and creative work.

Parents were able to view Visual Arts and TAS major works in Years 9-10 Visual Arts, Textiles Technology, Food Technology, Information Software Technology, Design and Technology and also works of students in Years 7 and 8 Visual Arts and Technology Mandatory. One of the highlights of the evening was the fashion parade of garments made by our students from Year 7-11, opened by our Year 7 students modelling their pyjama creations. It was a fun night with the students having the enjoyment of their parents’ presence during the parade. Learning is fun and we certainly were witness to that last Wednesday night!

 

 

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6 RULES FOR BUILDING STRONG, AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS WITH TEENS

Adolescence is a notoriously difficult phase of life, and being authentic as a teenager is not an easy task. Think about how hard it is, even as adults, to stay authentic in our own lives. Authenticity is our expression of emotions, reactions, thoughts and ideas that are consistent with our internal experience. It’s what is real and true for us from our perspective and values.  Staying authentic requires self-awareness, confidence, and a willingness to tolerate and work through conflict. When we are authentic we instil confidence and solidify the relationship.

Helping adults avl5nd parents are in opportune roles to demonstrate, support, and reinforce the experience of authenticity for teens. Teens report that when their teachers, coaches, counsellors, and parents are real and honest with them, they feel more connected in the relationship and know what to expect.  This in turn helps them find their own authentic selves.

One of the best ways to be authentic with teens is to practice transparency when we engage with them. Transparency is demonstrated when our motives and methods are obvious, clear, and out in the open. With teens, we can take it a step further by making a conscious effort to explain the process, our roles, and the reasons we do what we do.

 

  1. Explaining Our Processes

Teenagers love to question authority, and that’s a natural, developmentally appropriate, and positive thing! It’s a critical thinking skill that we want to cultivate and help young people learn to use effectively. When teens are either uncooperative or question our approach or decisions, our willingness to be open and explain the process and our rationale goes a long way to keeping teens engaged. We are even more effective when we anticipate concerns and explain things proactively.

When teachers explain the rationale behind an assignment and the time that went into planning it rather than responding to pushback with demanding redirection, students are likely to be more open to it.  When a coach lays out the agenda for practice and athletes can envision their participation in advance and ask questions, they are more committed in their effort.  And when counsellors explain the reason behind the need for a phone call to a parent and offer the teen a part in deciding how best to go about it, the teen is more likely to manage their emotional reaction.  By explaining what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, we likely boost cooperation, and increase teens’ willingness to participate.

  1. Clarifying Our Roles

Between family members, teachers, counsellors, coaches, and other helping adults, teenagers often have multiple adults in their lives. Teachers may also be coaches. Counsellors may also be school administrators. Coaches may also be family friends. So it’s no surprise that they report frequent confusion about our roles and send mixed messages regarding expected behaviours.

If you anticipate situations in which roles may be blurred, be proactive in providing teens with a clear idea of what to expect from you and what you expect from them in such settings. Coaches who are also parents of an athlete on their team can speak to this conflict directly and welcome questions or feedback along the way if decisions seem unfair. A willingness to share your thinking behind a decision supports a transparent approach. Counsellors should avoid dual relationships in their work when possible though especially in a school setting this is not always possible.  Speaking to the conflict openly and describing in advance your commitments to confidentiality and your collaborative role with other educators will address concerns, communicate transparency and set expectations in advance of problems.

  1. Fixing Mistakes

Teens need to know that mistakes are an inevitable and in fact necessary part of life and personal development. This is a fundamental principle but, sadly, not always well modelled by adults.

For example, students often complain that at teacher graded them unfairly, and sometimes it’s true. Owning mistakes, in addition to what is taught in the curriculum, is an important lesson to drive home with youth. Be open to students’ feedback, willing to consider their point of view, and respond with self-correction when arguments compel reconsideration.

If you make a mistake or even contribute in part to a miscommunication, validate the teen’s perspective and own your part in the error. This is an opportunity to demonstrate how to navigate our mistakes as well as our successes. A simple mistake or even reasonable suggestion from a teen, handled openly and skilfully, can actually lead to increased respect and a better working relationship.

  1. Admitting When You Don’t Know Something

If a teen asks you a question that stumps you, it’s a perfect opportunity to model that there is no shame in not knowing something.

Teens are experts at detecting phonies, and if they become aware that you’re making up an answer, your credibility goes out the window. Admitting that you don’t know something or that you were wrong shows you’re human, builds credibility (paradoxically!), and makes you relatable.

 

  1. Solving Problems Collaboratively

Teens’ developing executive functioning skills can lead to poor judgment and ineffective decision making in the face of challenges. This is why it’s so important for adults to model the problem-solving process out loud whenever possible and appropriate.

The opportunity to observe an adult’s effective problem solving process when expressed transparently gives teens the opportunity to integrate aspects of your process into their own lives. This means articulating when we experience a dilemma, get stuck on an answer, or are torn on how to proceed.  It also gives you yet another opportunity to be authentic. The time it may take to communicate your process and make it visible, may not always be possible, though when we do, it communicates authenticity and leads to closer, more genuine relationships.

  1. Providing Honest Feedback

How many times do we tell our students that they must advocate for themselves? Self-advocacy involves giving honest feedback, and this is something we can model by ensuring that the feedback we offer is with diplomacy and a balance of both positive and negative input.

For example, telling an adolescent they are “stubborn” may shut down communication. But telling them they have “strong determination” that in this case is getting in their way can be more useful. We can also explain that this same determination can propel them to success. In doing so, we demonstrate that it is possible to give feedback about a particular behaviour without judging the whole person.

Using these 6 skills to promote authenticity in our work with adolescents will strengthen the relationship and lead to greater engagement and commitment toward achieving goals.  It is also a powerful expression of another proven contributor toward effective working relationships with teens.

(from http://www.edutopia.org )

 

COMMUNITY PRAYERS

We keep the following people in our prayers:

  • Jenny King (Student Services) whose husband sadly passed away yesterday:
  • Georgia Bourtzos (7) who recently lost her maternal grandfather whilst he was on holidays.

 

Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
 
 
Vicki Lavorato
Principal