On the coldest day in fifty years, students, teachers and parents braved the cold in honour of the students who won academic awards for their efforts in Semester 1. For the first time, we needed to split the ceremony into Senior School (10-12) and Middle School (7-9) so that we could invite parents to the ceremonies and still fit into Yallunga. We were very honoured to have our special guests attending: The Honourable Mr David Coleman MP, Mrs Elizabeth O’Carrigan (Regional Director), Miss Robyn Glover (Regional Consultant), and Mrs Kelly Efremidis and Mrs Sonia Bennett (representatives of the Parents and Friends Association).

My address to both assemblies was in relation to students being mindful of their mindsets- what their brain is telling them to do- and what they can do to combat negative or unproductive thoughts.

Those students sitting there feeling a little flat and disappointed that their efforts have gone unrecognised were reminded that they should be focusing on the fact that while you’re not there YET, you will get there with a stronger, more focused effort.

There were girls who won awards on Friday who have not been in the top 20 of students when ranked in national testing like NAPLAN. Far from it. They are students who have worked out how to make their study WORK EFFECTIVELY FOR THEM.  These are students who do have positive mind speak; they turn negatives into a positive; critical feedback into better results. They have a GROWTH MINDSET. They know that they have to enhance their natural talents with hard work just like athletes, tennis players etc.

We know that at Bethany our focus is our vision for learning: Together we grow.  We know that to realise our purpose and potential we need to be learners that are. SELF DIRECTED, ENGAGED, CRITICAL THINKERS, CREATIVE THINKERS and that we do that best as COLLABORATIVE LEARNERS

Like the Bethany tree in our school logo and in our Vision for Learning graphic, we are all learners on a journey. We grow each day. We experience seasons like a tree does but instead of spring and autumn, we have good and bad patches in our learning journey.

You must adopt a mindset that each and every one of you can keep improving EVERY DAY; your talents are not fixed; you can grow your skills, abilities, and interpersonal skills.

At the end of the day, after a day at school with all your teachers, once the tutors have left and you are alone in your room, at your desk, you have to deal with your own thoughts, your own thinking. You need to train yourself to change the voices in your head to be ones that do not adopt a fixed mindset but a growth mindset. How can you do that? Four easy steps.

Step 1. Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”

As you approach a challenge, that voice might say to you “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.” “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure” “People will laugh at you for thinking you had talent.” “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”

As you hit a setback, the voice might say, “This would have been easy if you really had talent.” “You see, I told you it was a risk. Now you’ve gone and shown the world how limited you are.” “ It’s not too late to back out, make excuses, and try to regain your dignity.”

As you face criticism, you might hear yourself say, “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.” You might feel yourself getting angry at the person who is giving you feedback. “Who do they think they are? I’ll put them in their place.” The other person might be giving you specific, constructive feedback, but you might be hearing them say “I’m really disappointed in you. I thought you were capable but now I see you’re not.”

Step 2. Recognize that you have a choice.

How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is your choice. You can interpret them in a fixed mindset as signs that your fixed talents or abilities are lacking. Or you can interpret them in a growth mindset as signs that you need to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities. It’s up to you.

So as you face challenges, setbacks, and criticism, listen to the fixed mindset voice and…

Step 3. Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.

As you approach a challenge:

THE FIXED-MINDSET says “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.”

THE GROWTH-MINDSET answers, “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort.”

FIXED MINDSET: “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure”

GROWTH MINDSET: “Most successful people had failures along the way.”

FIXED MINDSET: “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”

GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t try, I automatically fail. Where’s the dignity in that?”

As you hit a setback:

FIXED MINDSET: “This would have been easy if you really had talent.”

GROWTH MINDSET: “That is so wrong. Basketball wasn’t easy for Michael Jordan and science wasn’t easy for Thomas Edison. They had a passion and put in tons of effort.

As you face criticism:

FIXED MINDSET: “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.”

GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen—however painful it is– and learn whatever I can.”


Step 4. Take the growth mindset action.

Over time, which voice you heed becomes pretty much your choice. Whether you

  • take on the challenge wholeheartedly,
  • learn from your setbacks and try again
  • hear the criticism and act on it is now in your hands.

Practice hearing both voices, and practice acting on the growth mindset. See how you can make it work for you.



So many students find it hard to study but it’s got to be done and with a few simple tips and some careful planning it can actually be pretty straightforward.

Why does studying sometimes feel like such a huge task and where does the anxiety come from?

The more anxious we get, the harder it can be to think clearly, to make sense of information or to recall it when we need it. Much anxiety is based on false perceptions about personal ability, study requirements or the consequence of failure. You can manage such anxiety in a number of ways such as:

  • Focusing on what you can do and what you will do next. Don’t dwell on what you can’t do – it just wastes time.
  • Putting some study time aside to think through clearly what is really required.
  • Breaking whole assignments down into smaller, manageable chunks for each study session so they are less daunting. Use a calendar!
  • Using opportunities to study with others.
  • Celebrating small successes along the way.

What are personalised learning strategies and why use them?

Personalised learning is finding that unique combination of strategies and conditions that enable you to achieve your best performance.

Much of the time, most of us can learn without the need to find special strategies as learning is a natural part of being human. When we have to learn at speed or under pressure, then it becomes worth finding the set of strategies that suits our way of learning.

As a starting point to finding your own optimum strategies, you can test out whether you study most effectively when you:

  • Block out the world and get down to it.
  • Can talk about what you are studying.
  • Keep going on a piece of study for many hours with minimal breaks.
  • Work in frequent intense bursts with many short breaks.
  • Use headings and bullet points to organise your ideas.
  • Write all your ideas into a quick draft early on and then rework that draft.

How can you stop yourself from falling asleep when you are reading?

The best way of staying alert is to engage your interest. If you don’t find the subject naturally stimulating, you can devise methods to perk your interest.

  • Start by browsing quickly through what you are going to read – your brain is then alerted to what to expect.
  • Jot down a set of broad questions to structure your reading – searching for answers to these as you read focuses your attention.
  • Identify personalised approaches to reading, for example are you more likely to stay focused at home or in the library? At a table or sat in a comfy chair?
  • Is there a short cut to absorbing information?
  • Read a simple outline first – your brain can then find it easier to recognise meaning in the more complex information later on.
  • Write out notes rather than simply highlighting important points as this requires more mental interaction in working out the meaning. Or annotate on your notes using titles or key words.
  • Try a more ‘personal’ approach such as giving material a colour, singing it, varying the speed at which you read or looking for a point of comparison with something else you know about.
  • How do overcome mental blocks and kick your mind back into gear?
  • Take a break, perhaps a few minutes but maybe longer if needed.
  • Do something completely different for a while, so your brain can work on the subject unconsciously. The brain often draws unexpected answers from apparently unlinked activity.
  • Go for a quick walk to release pent up adrenalin and energise your system.
  • Sleep – the brain recalls information better after a good sleep, which may help you sort out the block naturally.


Old Bethany


In the last couple of weeks, if you have driven along the Princes Highway Kogarah, you would have noticed that the old Bethany College Junior Campus has been demolished to make way for the St Patrick’s Green Catholic Nursing Home.

The site of our old Kogarah Campus is a significant and interesting one. Did you know:

  • For hundreds of generations, local Biddegal Aborigines gathered and celebrated at this site as well as Fitzgerald Hill (now the site of Calvary Hospital) as they were the highest and sunniest areas in the region.
  • The Gardeners Arms Hotel on the site was the venue for many public meetings called to discuss the proposed municipality of Kogarah. It was the main polling booth for the election of the first Kogarah Council. Kogarah Municipal Council was incorporated in the 1860s in the public bar of the Gardeners Arms Hotel.

Old Bethany1.jpg

  • The liquor licence of the Gardeners Arms Hotel was revoked in 1914 and it was converted to the Lyons Grocery Store.
  • In the late 1930s the front was demolished to make way for road widening of the Princes Highway.
  • Rueben F Scarf, a prominent retailer, purchased the site. Then, the St George Leagues Club purchased the site.
  • The St George Leagues Club operated there until 1963 when it moved to its current site opposite Jubilee Oval.
  • The Catholic Church purchased the building and had the challenge of converting a Leagues Club into a Catholic girls’ school.
  • In 1965 St Joseph’s Girls High school opened with 300 students by the end of Term 1 who had come from St Joseph’s Rockdale. The Sisters of St Joseph ran the school in Sr Teresa Martin Kelly appointed as the inaugural Principal.
  • At the end of 1992, St Joseph’s High School closed and was amalgamated into the new Bethany College from 1993. Years 7 and 8 Bethany College students were educated on this Campus until it closed at the end of 2008.

Some of our mums and foundation staff would recall some of the more unusual facts about the Kogarah site:

  • The “dungeon” cellar used to be the cellar for the old St George Leagues Club.
  • The school was built over a natural spring so it always flooded in the rain.
  • The teachers staff room used to be the poker machine room, a classroom, then a library, then a music room with carpet up the walls. The whole school crammed into that room to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in July 1969.
  • Only Year 10 was allowed to sit in the grassed area near the flagpole.
  • Students could only enter the school via the back stairs.



Bethany College currently has in place a 1:1 laptop program, originally funded by the now defunct Digital Revolution funding of the Rudd Labor government. Since this plan has phased out, the College has continued to supply one device to each student in each cohort, initially in Year 7 and then again in Year 10. The machines are paid for through a hire system to the school.\

As part of our strong and ongoing commitment to 21st century teaching and learning excellence, Bethany College is considering moving towards developing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program from the start of 2017.

This would mean that the current Year 8 students would not be issued with a school laptop but would be the first Year Group whereby we implemented BYOD. From 2018 on, this would apply to each Year Group as they move through the school.

BYOD refers to where students bring a personally owned and school-approved device to school for the purpose of learning. The school can provide the ability to connect compatible devices to a filtered internet service.

There are many different BYOD models to consider:

  • BYO Anything That Connects: Under this model, students and teachers are permitted to bring any device that can connect to the school’s 5Ghz wi-fi.
  • BYO Designated Device: under this model, parents need to purchase a particular machine, chosen by the school, for the student to bring each day and use in the classroom.
  • BYO Designated Devices: under this model, parents need to purchase a machine, from a range of 3 to 4 devices chosen by the school, for the student to bring each day and use in the classroom.


As part of our community consultation , all parents and students will be sent and asked to complete a brief online survey about the BYOD program.

Four Key Points

  1. We may commence implementing a BYOD program from 2017 so it is recommended that you do not buy your daughter a new mobile device (laptop or tablet) at this stage (eg. Christmas present) until more information is provided by the school about device requirements/specifications (etc) next term. Advice has been received that a new range of mobile devices are soon to be released by various manufacturers which reportedly have greatly improved functionality , and specifically targeted with BYOD in mind. This will be most particularly the case with our current Year 8 girls, and of course, the other students as they move through the school.
  1. BYO devices MUST support 5Ghz dual band wireless. Devices that only have a 2.4Ghz wi-fi reader will not connect to the CEO CENET Wi-Fi . Parents will need to be explicit with computer store sales staff when investigating suitable devices regarding a device’s ability to connect to a 5Ghz wi-fi.
  1. The CEO Sydney BYOD Policy requires computers to be running operating systems that are supported by their manufacturer. This means that Windows XP falls outside the CEO Sydney policy as it is no longer supported by Microsoft. These machines are not eligible to be connected to the school’s Wi-Fi.
  1. Bethany College is most likely to make the decision that mobile phones/smartphones/tablets will not be part of the BYOD@BCH program. Reasons for this are mainly around online testing for National and NSW public examinations. We need our students equipped with the facility to undertake online tests, which are currently being trialled and intend to be implemented. Online test require a suitable size screen and reasonable battery life.



  • We have been delighted to welcome Ms Marilee Mai back to the teaching roster after her period of parental leave. She is in a job-share arrangement with Mr Stefan Roberts and will be onsite at Bethany each Thursday and Friday.
  • This week, we farewelled Mrs Loren Pelham as she patiently awaits the birth of her second child. We all pray for a safe delivery. Miss Monica Ribeiro will be replacing Ms Pelham in this parental leave period. Ms Ribeiro comes to us with excellent accreditation and experience in teaching Religious Education. You are most welcome!
  • With sadness we received the news that Mr David Martin’s grandmother passed away after a brief illness during the school holidays. He is in all of our thoughts and prayers.
  • We pray for the Kozarovski family (Melanie – Year 9) who recently lost their beloved father / grandfather.  May he rest in peace.
  • I am so very proud of our school community and the way it rallies around students in difficult times. You may recall that Estelle (7) and Lucienne (11) Pacifique have a brother in Year 12 at St Mary’s Cathedral College, Jacque Pacifique, who is battling Leukaemia (and the HSC at the same time). There have been many fund-raising events in both schools with monies being directed to the Leukaemia Foundation and its vital research. The joint efforts of the students at Bethany and Cathedral have placed us 2nd in NSW and 7th across Australia in the list of the biggest donors for this cause! The Catholic Social Justice Principle of Solidarity is well-demonstrated by our collective students’ efforts. The Principle of Solidarity is that we are one human family, and so our practise of love of neighbour must extend to the whole global community. Well done girls! 


Our mantra:

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