The sense of community, family and belonging is of critical importance to the culture of a school. Shared and mutual experience is the conduit of relationships, and our school is engaged in a range of activities both during and after school hours that promote engagement and connection. Please read below the journey of the community of St Thomas More's Catholic School for the 2022 school year.
The 2023 School Year - A Reflection
Written by Mr Casimir Douglas (Principal)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” – Romans 12:2
The excerpt from the Letter of St Paul to the Romans written above is reflective of the man who himself was transformed on the road to Damascus through an encounter with Christ. In one of the many pieces of Vatican literature on the nature of Catholic education, from a document titled, Educating Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion, the following excerpt highlights the essential transformative nature of the task of Catholic education:
“The real expected result [of Catholic education] is not the acquisition of information or knowledge but, rather, personal transformation”.
Our task in this modern context is to aid our young people to successfully navigate the open seas of 21st century education; with faith as their compass, learning as their sail, relationships as their hull, and family as their anchor. The purpose is to renew their minds and their hearts through an encounter with Christ so that they may be transformed, and in turn transform our world. And when I speak of an encounter with Christ, I don’t speak of something as supernatural as a blinding light on the side of the road, which was the experience of St Paul, but an encounter that is experienced daily by our students, in their relationships with staff, in their learning sequences, and in the structures and support of the school. The journey of 2023 for St Thomas More’s Catholic School has not been without its challenges. But without challenge there cannot be growth. I will attempt to capture some of that unique journey of challenges and successes here, in as much as words can emulate experiences.
The central pillar and focus of our school is our faith and our Catholic identity, and in 2023 our students participated in: daily class prayer; Monday morning Prayer Assemblies; weekly class liturgies with Fr Chathura Silva; a number of whole school Masses held in the Church including the Feast Day of St Thomas More; the introduction of weekly Christian meditation; welcoming Andrew Chinn to provide music for our school Mass and hold a concert; multiple Making Jesus Real sessions each term with Mr Davie; raising money for Project Compassion; and welcoming His Grace, Archbishop Julian Porteous, to celebrate Catholic Education Week Mass with us in our Church.
There were a number of unique initiatives, some commenced and some completed, in the 2023 school year to enhance student learning, celebrate student achievement, and promote the life of the school to the community. This included the introduction of the INSIGHT initiative which is a pedagogical framework underpinned by the Science of Learning, and the support of Michael Roberts and Shaye Whitton from COGLearn to provide professional development for our teachers in this educational approach; the implementation of Online Feedback for the 2023 school year via SeeSaw; the introduction of The Resilience Project and the embedding of Gem Principles (Gratitude, Empathy & Mindfulness) in the Health curriculum; the holding of our Family, Fun & Film Night in Term 4; completing the five-yearly School Validation review process; hosting the College of Catholic Educational Leaders Conference at our school; our Tournament of Minds team receiving an honourable mention at the International Finals in Melbourne; and the continuation of STM TV as our school's weekly episodic YouTube show designed to share the key learning experiences of nominated students each week to engage our parents and the broader community in the learning journey of our school.
There were also a number of significant upgrades made to the school environment, both aesthetically and functionally. This included; the rebuilding and opening of our new school playground; our KreamArt Mural projects for Term 1 (Be Kind, Be Brave, Be Curious) and Term 4 (Rehearse the Positive & Embrace Your Weird), the installation of large panelling in the Piazza that celebrates the charism of Julian Tenison Woods and the Sisters of St Joseph; the unveiling of our digital sign at the front of the school, the concreting of pathways at the school entrance; major plumbing works to improve drainage and the schools stormwater capacity in both the Term 1 and Term 3 school holidays; and a significant upgrade in external lighting for safety and visibility during evening events.
As we anticipate the holiday break ahead, and embrace the opportunity for renewal and recreation, I encourage the staff, parents and students of St Thomas More’s Catholic School to use this time to seek stillness and quiet reflection. The rhythm of busyness in our lives tends to persist as we transition from school days into holidays; the season of giving brings with it a season of organising, budgeting, travelling, and buying. Rather than giving in to our preoccupation with the external pressures of agendas, demands, and requests, may we make the time in silence to discover the truth of what drives us from within: the love of God and the love of our family and friends. To finish I would like to express my most heartfelt and sincere gratitude to all those who have contributed to the task of educating and forming our students in 2023.