MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL

Advent

It’s Christmastime! There are only so many shopping days left! Have you put lights on your house yet, sent out cards, and bought sufficient gifts? Do you need something new to wear for the annual Christmas party? Have you planned the meal yet? Have the kids outgrown their outfits from last year? Who needs haircuts? Anyone require new shoes? Did you get paper and tape and ribbon—and did you remember that you have to mail these things by the 16th or postage is extra? Have you stayed in budget and on diet? Do you have everything? Do you have everything? Do you have everything?

Stopping to experience the gift of Advent and the season of Christmas requires wilful action on our part to avoid being swept along by the Yuletide frenzy brought on by retailers and excessive exposure to Christmas schlock 24/7. The sacred still is, but we have to lift the tinsel from our eyes to see the true Christmas star.

We all know that Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas, is a time of blessed waiting, when we are meant to deepen our understanding of the gift that is Jesus. However, the secular traditions of the season often crowd our hearts. Without vigilance, we forget the true wonder of the Incarnation. Christ is with us. He is present; he is here. We can touch Our Lord. The reality of Jesus as fully human—such that if we lived then, we might approach his mother and ask to touch the unspeakably soft hair of his blessed head—is. We would inhale the fragrant sweet scent that is only found on a newborn and hopefully, recognize it was time to rejoice with all of heaven at his coming. So how do we help tame our family and tame our lives so we can become a quiet stable, ready to welcome and house the Holy Family and Our Lord?

  • Get an Advent wreath.Even if you’re late to the party, get one. Light it at every meal. It is a simple way of calling all of us back to the purpose of this holy season. The calming experience of actual fire and light in an electric and often virtual world cannot be underestimated.
  • Walk with Mary and Joseph.They are the silent actors in this Christmas pageant every year. They yield their lives to God’s will, despite being told “there is no room in the inn.” The absence of words in their witness is telling to us. They are not overwhelmed with worry, despite the trials of travel and being with child. They are not anxious about many things. Offer the business of your daily life as a prayer to do God’s will for all around you. Offering up one’s daily struggles is not easy, but rest assured, it is a holy act of the will.
  • Fast from the secular world en route to work.The news will still be there when you get to your computer. If you are driving with children, have the oldest one read the readings for the day aloud. If not, use the time to listen to the rosary on CD or simply pray. Prayer and silence are a good way to remove the outside pressures the world brings to this sacred time. Listen for the words God is whispering to your heart.
  • Use purposeful decoration.Why do we decorate with lots of red? As a sign of Christ’s sacrifice and his blood. Why do we use gold during the Christmas season? As a mark of his kingship. Why do we put up lights? To remember that Christ is the Light of the world. It’s not about the reindeer—it’s about the dear One who reigns. Set up the nativity set with the three kings and shepherds stationed far away from the scene. Each day, move the various figures one step closer. Jesus is placed in the manger on Christmas Eve after Mass, so the stable starts out bare and grows fuller as the season progresses. Growing anticipation is part of the joy of this Advent season, which leads to the next suggestion.
  • Make time for unrushed loveliness.Strive to create a sense of beauty as a way to acknowledge the Creator of beauty. Just as God allows a baby to gestate for nine months before we have the joy of seeing a new soul, and just as the light from our brightest star takes 403 years to reach us, so also we must allow decking the halls to take place over the course of four weeks. Don’t race to get it all done. There is pleasure to be found in decorating that cannot be discovered if the sole goal is to be finished and check one more item off the to-do list.
  • Plan family time.Sit with your family and make a list of the traditions you hope to look forward to again next year. Pick and choose and talk about those choices, and then follow through. Involving others in Christmas preparations makes them less of a burden. Involving your whole family will lead to moments when you are surprised by joy, like I was when my 21-year-old took it upon herself to put out our nativity scene and tree.
  • Practice the generosity of kings.Before you hit Westfield, hit your wardrobe. Clear out those shoes, those coats, and those other extras that could be a source of warmth and comfort, beauty and pleasure to others in need. Make room in the inn, and teach your children to do the same.
  • Practice the simplicity of the shepherds.They brought only themselves to the King of Kings. Bring yourself to adoration, Mass, and confession before Christmas. Bring yourself to Jesus, for we are all invited to come to the stable.
  • Sing joyfully with all the choirs of heaven.Every time we attend Mass, we are in the presence of the communion of saints, and the hymns and carols of Christmas are made for being sung with others. Expose your children to a choir, and let them discover the beauty of being part of a whole host singing with their whole hearts.
  • Invite others to come to the feast.If you know of family or friends who have been away from the Church or who are estranged or lonely, you can be the stable for others. Offer to bring them to Mass. Invite them to dinner, even if they say the equivalent of “Bah, Humbug.” Love is messy, active, and real. It requires that we not seek our own comfort, but instead seek to be the source of comfort to others. Make someone feel warm and welcomed and fed—or at least give them the opportunity. Who knows, one day, they may come to beg your pardon, to join the meal, and say, “God forgive me for the time I’ve wasted.”

 

 

       Prayer during Advent

Father in heaven, the day draws near

when the glory of your Son will make radiant

the night of the waiting world.

May the lure of greed not impede us

from the joy which moves the hearts of those who seek him.

May the darkness not blind us

to the vision of wisdom which

fills the minds of those who find him.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

 

 

Reading school reports with a Growth Mindset

It’s that timvl1e of the year again. School report time. As the school year winds down, many parents ask themselves what they can do to help their children’s school achievement. Most typically their thoughts will run to math tutoring or reading practice, but they should be considering something even more fundamental: their children’s beliefs.

Research now shows that students’ beliefs about their intelligence play an important role in their school achievement, and that parents can influence the development of these beliefs. Students who believe their intelligence is simply a fixed trait fare more poorly, especially as school becomes more challenging, than students who believe their intellectual abilities can grow. When students are taught the growth-oriented view—whether they are inner city middle school students or students at an elite university—they show a rapid increase in their enjoyment of learning and in their grades.

In a study of New York City schools, seventh graders were taught that every time they learn something new their brain forms new connections and that over time their intellectual abilities can be developed. Whereas a matched control group continued to show the poor motivation and decline in grades so commonly seen in adolescents, the group that learned the growth-oriented view of intelligence showed a significant upsurge in their motivation to learn and in their grades.

What should parents do? Research shows that praising the process –children’s effort or strategies—creates eagerness for challenges, persistence in the face of difficulty, and enhanced performance. Next time you are tempted to tell your child that he or she is the next Einstein or future Picasso, stop yourself. Instead, take the time to appreciate what they put into their work, not what the work means about their innate brains or talent. Ask them how they went about it and show them how you appreciate their choices, their thinking process, or their persistence. Ask them about strategies that didn’t work and what they learned from them. When they make mistakes, use these as occasions for teaching them to come up with new strategies. When they do something quickly, easily, and perfectly, do not tell them how great they are. Tell them, “I’m sorry I wasted your time on something too easy for you. Let’s do something you can learn from.” Look for ways to convey your valuing of effort, perseverance, and learning—rather than some empty display of ability. Instead of false confidence in fixed ability, these methods will foster an appreciation for the true ingredients of achievement.

It is now abundantly clear from research that brains and talent alone don’t bring success. The work of Benjamin Bloom and of Anders Ericsson shows clearly that people of outstanding accomplishment—be it in science, the arts, or athletics–are typically no more talented than many of their peers. In fact, their peers who seemed most brilliant at the start often turned out to achieve very little. This is most likely because, believing too much in the power of their brains and talent, they did not put in the effort that all great accomplishment requires.

In short, believing in brains or talent as something fixed and all-powerful works against long-term success in school, careers, and life in general. It’s the wrong mindset. If you teach your children one thing this summer, it should be how to grow their intelligence.

 

vl2

 

Farewell to staff

At this time of the year, we farewell colleagues who leave us to take up new positions, go on leave and others who have concluded their contractual period with the College.

  • Ms Mary Kleist: Ms Kleist is currently our Leader of RE and Mission and is well known to staff, students and parents for her work in enhancing the Catholic life and culture of the College. She is leaving us after seven years to take up the position of Religious Education Coordinator at Marist Sisters’ College, Woolwich  We are very proud of Mary and wish her well in this new position.
  • Mr Kevin Carragher: After ten years of dedicated service to the Bethany Community, Mr Carragher is leaving us to take up the position of Teaching and Learning Coordinator at St Patrick’s College, Sutherland. He is currently on the leadership team as the Leader of Pedagogy. Bethany was Mr Carragher’s first teaching appointment and we have watched him grow in skills and confidence. We appreciate the contribution he has made to improve the learning culture at our school.
  • Mr Jason Currao: Mr Currao is leaving us after four years in the HSIE and RE faculties, two of which he served as the College’s Assistant Leader of RE and Mission. He is moving to Loreto College Normanhurst to take up an RE teaching position. We thank him for his contribution to the Catholic life and culture of the school.
  • Ms Nelson: Ms Nelson, our Performing Arts Coordinator, is moving off to Maternity Leave as she and Mike await the birth of their baby. We hope the arrival of your bundle of joy is a safe and blessed experience.
  • Ms Samantha Rothwell: Ms Rothwell leaves the College after 2.5 years in a temporary HSIE/English role. We thank her for the energy and enthusiasm she has brought to her teaching role and for all the extra-curricular things she has been involved in in the past year. We wish her well as she takes up her permanent position at Marist Catholic College, Penshurst.
  • Ms Monica Ribeiro: Ms Ribeiro replaced Mrs Pelham this year when she went off on Maternity Leave. We thank her for working so seamlessly with the staff and congratulate her appointment to a position at St Clare’s College, Waverley.
  • Mr Keiran Staples: Mr Staples has been with us for three years in a temporary capacity replacing Ms Cotton. He has been our much valued Sports Coordinator and has been active in ensuring our students get the best competitive opportunities we can muster. We thank him for working so seamlessly with the staff and congratulate him on his appointment to a permanent position at Oxley College in Bowral.
  • Ms Theresa Napoli: Miss Napoli has been with us this term replacing Mrs Rizk in the TAS department. We wish her all the best as she takes up her new job at Our Lady of Mercy College Burraneer.
  • Mrs Black: Mrs Black, a valued part-time member of our support staff for six years, is leaving Bethany to take up an ICT Support Officer role at Georges River Grammar College. We wish her well and thank her for her support of our girls and their laptops over the years.

In the New Year, I will let you know of the changes to our administration structure that will further support our desire to improve teaching and learning at the College.

 

Parent Satisfaction Survey 2015

Thank you very much to everyone who completed the Parent Satisfaction Survey this term.  In total, 147 responses were received.  Of greatest affirmations were that 96% of respondents identified that their daughter felt safe at the College and that 78% felt that they were very satisfied with the College.

Overall, the results are a strong affirmation of our values and programs and are invaluable in identifying areas for development. The Leadership team will analyse and discuss the detailed response data during our professional development days next week. We noted that 28% of respondents were unsure about the College’s strategies for dealing with the diverse needs of its students and 28% were unsure that the College has high academic standards.  Though each teaching program includes strategies for differentiation for gifted, core and learning support students, this is not being communicated strongly enough to our students.  We cannot take this for granted and it is important to have teachers articulate the differentiation they are implementing daily.   

In 2014, we identified that our Anti-Bullying strategies needed improvement in the timeliness and effectiveness of implementation.  We were pleased to see an improvement in respondents’ advice around this with an improvement in the results for the statement Bullying is dealt with in a timely and effective manner from 58% to 62%. We are especially grateful for the improvement in perception of our academic standards with the response to The College has high academic standards improving from 59% to 65%. We have worked very hard at this.  There was also a 5% increase in the statement around friendliness and approachability of the Leadership Team from 77% to 82%.

Later this term, all staff will analyse the responses from this survey and identify what we can take from it about your perceptions of our work.   While there is a very pleasing commendation of the College, the greatest value is in data that helps us make Bethany even better.

Overall Results

Parent Satisfaction Survey 2015

% Agree

% Neutral

% Disagree

1. My child/ren are happy at the College.

82

13

5

2. My child/ren feel safe at Bethany College.

96

4

0

3. My child/ren are interested and engaged in their learning at the College.

81

17

2

4. The College provides a value for money education for my child/ren.

73

20

7

5. The College caters well for the diverse needs of its students.

65

28

7

6. The College has high academic standards. 

65

28

7

7. The College has appropriate facilities to support its educational programs.

72

23

5

8. The College facilities are clean and well-maintained.

88

11

1

9. The College grounds are clean and well-presented.

90

9

1

10. The peer environment at Bethany is positive.

73

21

6

11. Bullying is dealt with in a timely and effective manner at the College.

62

34

4

12. The College maintains high standards of student behaviour in and out of the classroom.

80

15

5

13. The uniform of the College is practical and presents well.

85

10

5

14. The College maintains high standards of presentation and uniform for students.

90

8

2

15. The teachers of the College are knowledgeable and competent in their roles.

62

26

12

16. The teachers at Bethany are caring and take a genuine interest in the well-being and education of my child/ren.

70

19

11

17. The College provides a good range of subject offerings.

74

20

6

18. The College offers a good range of co-curricular activities such as the instrumental music and sport programs.

80

16

4

19. The staff of the College present well and dress appropriately and professionally.

90

8

2

20. The administration staff are welcoming, friendly and approachable.

90

7

3

21. The members of the Leadership Team are welcoming, friendly and approachable.

82

17

1

22. I am very satisfied with the College.

78

16

6

 

CEO Sydney

After a period of consultation and careful consideration, a decision has been made by the Sydney Archdiocesan Catholic Schools (SACS) Board to change the name of the Catholic Education Office (CEO) Sydney to ‘Sydney Catholic Schools’ (SCS). This name change reflects the focus of the organisation’s new strategic plan New Horizons: Inspiring Hearts and Minds, which places schools at the heart of its vision and mission.

The name change will take effect from 1 January 2016. It is not expected that the change of name will have any impact on the ongoing operations of the organisation or our school

 

Community News

We keep the following families in our prayers;

  • Grace O’Keeffe (Year 7) whose maternal grandfather passed away this week.
  • The Kondos family who have struggled through the third anniversary of the loss of their daughter, sister and our sister Nicola (who would have been in Year 10 this year).

 

 

 

Our mantra:

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