From the Principal – 25 June 2018

Dear St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar School Community,

Another term finishes. We have had a busy and exciting term and as we continue to articulate our strategic plan, I have been impressed with the positivity shown by the community to the future recommendations. We are a great school with a great offering and I believe the children here are very lucky.

Staff Announcements
After 40 years in education our wonderful Head of Junior School, Ms Carole Reed will be retiring at the end of the year. She has taught in Government and the Independent sector in three states and territories and has been a Principal in various settings since 2001. Carole has worked in mainstream and special education settings and she has been instrumental in developing statewide programs for literacy as well as leading a Monash University team as Manager of Partnerships and Professional Placements. Carole has worked with St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar since 2011 and has led the School from success to success.

Ms Reed has noted that it has been an absolute pleasure to spend the last 7 years of her 40-year career at St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar School but now it is now time to say goodbye to school and welcome retirement. She looks forward to the new experiences that lie ahead including volunteer work at the Royal Children’s Hospital, sketching at the National Gallery and travelling around our amazing world at a more leisurely pace. Importantly, she will now have more time to enjoy the company of her much loved family, friends and her grandchildren.

On a personal level, I will miss her calm, balanced approach and exemplary wisdom. I was very fortunate when I came to St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar to have her advice as the previous Principal of St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar School. I know families will want to say ‘farewell’ in ways that best suit them. Later in the year, we will acknowledge Carole’s significant contribution to our School and I look forward to sharing details of these events with the community. The School will commence the search for a new Head of Junior in the near future.

In other staffing news, I have asked the current Head of St Margaret’s Senior School, Mrs Williams, to move into work with myself on the development and implementation of key projects resulting from the Strategic Plan. Mrs Williams will commence this work in 2019 and I know the community looks forward to her continued contribution as she has so much to offer.

Dr Middleton’s work as Vice Principal/Head of Berwick Grammar School continues and in response to the excellent work he has been doing and in response to our current needs, his portfolio will be added to and he will assume broader responsibilities across the School in the areas of administering the ‘One School Ethos’ across all areas: symbolic, practical and operational. He will still be based at BGS and will continue his intimate involvement at BGS.

Senior leadership at both Senior Schools is being reconfigured and a Head of Senior Boys will be appointed to assist Dr Middleton with the day to day operations of the School. Likewise, a Head of Senior Girls will lead the strengthened House system that will form the basis of the wellbeing support for the students at both Senior Schools.

Increased strategic responsibilities in relation to Admissions, Marketing and Identity will be a primary focus of mine and I will continue to be located predominantly at the St Margaret’s, Berwick campus.

To those staff that are leaving us at the end of Term 2: Mrs Lynda Vague, Ms Danijela Draskovic,
Mrs Mary-Clare Terrill, Mrs Janine Dissegna, Ms Gretta Urqhart and Ms Anneliese Muller – we wish them great happiness in whatever they do and thank them for their dedication and hard work.

General News
The 2019 transition programs have started. One look at the joy in the eyes of the Junior School students shows young people thirsty for life and very much looking forward to coming to Year 7 and beyond. I believe we are increasingly appreciating the work that needs to go into every student and the willingness for people to ‘pitch in’ is palpable. The staff here are what the children need us to be. Teacher, guide, moral leader, disciplinarian or simply an open heart. We work with our families for the advancement of the young people in our care. Our families should expect nothing less and neither do our staff. Teaching is the most complex of professions centred on making a difference and changing life opportunities. This is a huge responsibility and an honour.

From the Academic and Wellbeing perspective, the PYP Evaluation in Junior School, Time and Space Program at Berwick Grammar School, the Professional Learning program and general academic courses kept all engaged and busy this term. Examinations, reports, Parent/Teacher evenings and other assessments ran smoothly in all areas and two very successful (and well attended) ‘Understanding Maths Mastery’ information sessions for parents were held in Junior School to be followed up by a Marvellous Maths Morning next term. Debating continued at a fast pace as did the students’ commitment to service learning. Junior School supported Save the Children fund (in partnership with The Resilience Project). The children were raising money to help Solomon Islands Play to be School Ready. These young people never stop caring. As I write this, the first drones and spheros funded by the Parents and Friends have arrived at Berwick Grammar School and the whole school is buzzing.

House events proved engaging and positive and I know we are hopeful that proposed changes will strengthen such events even further. House Athletics were highly successful at the Junior, Boys’ and Girls’ Schools. As well as the sporting successes, one of the many highlights of the recent St Margaret’s House Athletics for me was seeing a Year 12 girl dancing with a significant number of girls from other year levels. House Athletics Carnival saw two long-standing records broken in the Year 10 Shot Put and in the Year 11 200m.

Musically, events such as the Masters Recital, BGS Jazz Night, Chamber Concerts and VSPA concert featuring the Idea of North cemented us as one of the top performing arts schools in Victoria I believe. We have 34 musicians at AMEB Grade 7 or above. That is simply outstanding for a school of our size.

Term 2 also witnessed exceptional sports success across the School. The Berwick Grammar School Intermediate Football Team won the School’s first ever Intermediate Football Pennant. The Junior Basketball also won their first Pennant. The Intermediate Basketball Team progressed to the Victorian College Championships and came top of their pool to be State Runners Up. Pennants were also won by Intermediate Handball, SIS Cross Country (2 pennants) and Volleyball. Table Tennis also increased its foothold on the sporting ladder.

Term 2 has seen St Margaret’s senior girls participate in GSV Netball, Hockey, AFL9s and Cross Country. At the Championship Cross Country Carnival in March, St Margaret’s finished 3rd overall with four girls placing in the top 10 in their age group. The Senior Hockey team had a successful season, only narrowly missing the finals while the Aerobics team had a successful State Championships, qualifying for the National Championships on the Gold Coast.

HPV and Cycling success also continues with successes at Knox for Senior Female Winner, Junior Class Winners 3rd and 7th, Middle Class 4th, Open Class 3rd and 14th, Senior Class 3rd as well as for parents and mixed teams.

Likewise Equestrian events proved successful in every way.

And who could forget the Year 11 and 12 Formal? A night of great exuberance and joy for students and staff. The Presentation Ball was equally delightful and it was particularly impressive to see the warmth and affection shared across families.

From a strategic perspective a CIRCLE review, numerous staff interviews, the demographic study results as well as general feedback from interviews, Principal’s Morning Teas and other events enable us to move forward in an informed manner.

I hope all families get to spend time with loved ones.

Warmest wishes

Ms Annette Rome