back to main page View Previous Issues

From the Principal

Catholic Secondary Principals' Conference

I was privileged to attend the 2019 Catholic Secondary Principals’ Conference in Marysville last week and to be inspired and challenged by visiting theologian, Dr Anna Rowlands from Durham University in the UK.  Dr Rowlands is the St Hilda Associate Professor of Catholic Social Thought and Practice and a lecturer in Contemporary Catholic Theology.  Over the three days, she addressed the theme of ‘Catholic Social Teaching for our Age’.   Dr Rowlands presented a view of Catholic Social Teaching as a narrative that gives us a story line of the purpose of life together.  We cocreate with God and others and are invited to take a leap of faith into the task of social leadership so that as we accompany others, so we too are accompanied.  She suggested that the role of Catholic schools is to teach students to be alert to context, experience and culture, and then to reflect on what they see and learn and match their own talents and response to the needs of the time.  Formation of conscience always happens this way in a context.  Dr Rowlands shared a quote that continues to resonate for me:  'I see you, I hear you and I am here’.  We are all called to walk with others in mutual accompaniment and to open our hearts to ‘the other’ and to all that we learn from this accompaniment.

Board In Service

The College Board and Board Committee members gathered on Saturday, 18 May for the annual Board In Service and Formation Day.  A presentation from Dominican Sister, Sheila Flynn, and our College Chaplain Fr Kevin Toomey OP, took us back to the inspiration and stories of early Dominicans in Salamanca in Spain, who in many ways were the forefathers of the Declaration of Human Rights.  Our Dominican tradition is embedded in a powerful synthesis between the intellectual life (underpinning the search for Truth) and commitment and service to those most vulnerable in the world.  As Dominicans, we are called to engage with Catholic Social Teaching by daring to see what is before our eyes as Dr Anna Rowlands suggested and to discern how we preach in our time.  Catholic Social Teaching underpins our Dominican tradition and ethos.  

Subsequent sessions at the In Service Day engaged the College Board and Committee members in discussions about a future College Business Plan in preparation for the next Masterplan, and a review of the College’s commitment to Child Safe Standards.   

College Review

This week, we welcomed three school reviewers auspiced by the Australian Council for Educational Research, Tony McGruther, Christina Rogers and Jan Hayes.  They spent three days observing students’ learning and wellbeing, and engaging in conversations with students, parents, College Board members, teachers and support staff.  Their work at the College was framed around the National School Improvement Tool that is based on the empirical research of Professor Geoff Masters and nine domains that focus on teaching and learning.  The tool brings together findings from international research into the practices of highly effective schools and school leaders and describes a baseline from which to build capacity. It is forward focussed in a progression of improvement rather than standards or benchmarks.  I am grateful to all who generously gave of their time to be interviewed and to the staff who invested many hours in preparing documentation and evidence for the reviewers.  We look forward to receiving the reviewers’ report in the near future and to the opportunity to reflect on the findings and develop a new four year school improvement plan and continue our journey of improving students’ learning outcomes and wellbeing.  

Welcome to St Mary's College

We welcomed a small group of staff and students from St Mary’s College in Adelaide, one of the schools that is part of Dominican Education Australia (DEA).  They are here to strengthen our Dominican ties and to play in our annual Autumn Concert.  It is lovely to have them in our community and I thank all the Siena families who so generously offered hospitality by hosting our visitors.  They will conclude their time in Melbourne by attending a performance of ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ on Saturday.  We look forward to a reciprocal visit to St Mary’s in the near future.  


go back