A Window with A View
Yesterday, Saturday, we celebrated our 40th Birthday. The sun shone upon us as we welcomed past, present and future Korowallians. It was a joyous occasion. So this week we are posting the speeches from Greg Lucas, Chair of the School Board, and myself, as Principal.If we can secure copies of others speeches we will publish them also.
Words from Greg Lucas, Chair KSB.
Korowal is truly an independent school. Almost all independent schools in the country have some peak body, organisation or religious order, to assist in their management and to provide financial backing. Korowal did, until the move to Hazelbrook, which was a result of a deliberate decision to sever the ties with the Foundation that had created the school and had provided the real estate for the school to operate from on a peppercorn rental.
Perhaps our founders were tapping in to some clairvoyant skill when choosing the name Korowal - which is the indigenous name for Mount Solitary and means “the strong one”- because moving from an annual rent of $10,000 to needing to service a mortgage of almost $4M required great strength. Resilience and strength are defining characteristics of Korowal School.
But the truly strong one knows that strength is not garnered alone. We, the school, owe a great debt to the advisers to the board who have stepped in and assisted in our times of need. They provided support in the area of their profession but have also really understood the uniqueness of Korowal. Two, in particular need to be named. First – Charles Tarbey, for assisting in the negotiations to purchase our home in Hazelbrook. Second, Bruce Corlett, for assisting when we refinanced our mortgage a few years ago. He gave us countless hours of his time, and immense practical and moral support. It gives me great pleasure to be able to thank Bruce publically today – and to announce that a tree in the Board’s Walk of Appreciation will be planted in his honour today to serve as an enduring reminder of Korowal’s appreciation for your significant contribution to our school.
So how has the governance of the school changed over the years? Under the original structure, we had an Administrative Council with 6 elected parents and 6 elected teachers which met monthly. We also had an Education Council comprised of all teachers which met every Friday. The Coordinator was responsible to both bodies and was a voting member of the admin council. As we grew it became extremely unworkable as it was a slow, cumbersome and essentially unworkable model.
Under our Second structure we had one Council – which comprised of at least 6 directors and maximum of 8 members. Half of the directors were to be teachers. The School Coordinator was responsible to the council but was not a voting member, as the council is the body that employs the Coordinator. This was changed to adhere to the Carver model of Governance.
Our current structure has one board, with a minimum of 5 directors and not more than 8. At least 5 are elected from the members who join, and currently we have 2 teacher directors. Directors can only serve for 4 consecutive terms, which is 8 years.
In conclusion, I will quote words of former student. Barnaby Andersun has spent 25 years as a technology entrepreneur who retreated from Silicon Valley to Chiang Mai. In his words from a speech he gave at Standford University, on how to live as a digital nomad following 5 years of non-stop travel across the world, he stated:
"My life was forever changed by attending the magical school of Korowal, where a vision of a different type of education became a reality and has endured to affect the lives of generations of people.
The foundations for my entire life were given to me at Korowal. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to pull everything together and make such an amazing experiment happen. For 6 years, every day that I went to Korowal was a complete joy. I couldn't wait for Monday morning, to get into a week in such an inspiring environment. To this day, Monday is my favourite day of the week. I simply have a love a life that I feel was nurtured while at Korwal, and has endured to this day.
Moving outside of Korowal, I could always tell that I thought differently, and approached all my studies, work and projects in ways that were not common. This has lead to me leading the most extraordinary life, where I now travel the world, working on creative endeavours that have me feeling constantly inspired.
Korowal taught me how to live from creativity, and how to bring that into every aspect of life. I'm very grateful to my parents for sending them there, and for everyone who made this happen."
Greg Lucas, Chair, KSB. 25.11.17
Welcome to all, from Barb Fitzgerald
Good afternoon and welcome to Korowal School at Hazelbrook. Happy 40th Birthday to us all! We understand that people have travelled far distances to be here today as we gather to celebrate 40 years of a community formed through educational priorities. A gathering of a tribe! We have had three homes over this period, and rather than weaken us, these have strengthened our community. The need to pull together at troubled times for a greater purpose forged firmer connections.
As Hugh Mackay states in his book ‘The Art of Belonging’:
“The desire to belong is a throbbing urge that won’t be stilled until our hearts find safe lodgings”.
And so we gather today to still our hearts, together, to hear the stories of our history, to cherish and celebrate a place that has taught us all how to belong.
Schools don’t just happen, we have to create them. We will hear from several people who together, will created a pastiche of our history, of why we are who we are. These include David Wansborough, a Founding member of Korowal; Greg Lucas, our Chair of the School Board; Mark Thomas, our School Coordinator for 12 years; Charlotte Komsic, a Year 12 recent graduate; and Bruce Corlett AM, our advisor and advocate in refinancing the school.
Our school has always been a product of, and an expression of its time.
In this chapter of Korowal’s history, we are preparing students for a rapidly changing world. We are both challenged and excited about the initiatives we are introducing, while remaining true to our founding principles of love, or compassion, as conscious action. We continue to value people, play, creativity, kindness, and restorative practices in our relationships.
Nancy Oosterhoff recently retired after 27 years at Korowal. She commented that when she applied for the position she couldn’t draw, couldn’t play recorder and thought she couldn’t sing. How confronting, when each ‘main lesson’ requires a chalk drawing on the board, morning circle has parents and students present and the teacher leads the singing, and recorder is the mainstay of primary music! Yet Nancy became the legend for teachers, leading the primary school for 15 years.
In full circle, we have welcomed back ex-students as staff, with Kirsty Bishop having been our Counsellor for 10 years, Cairo Gawne as Drama and HSIE teacher; Talulah Vane is now our primary art teacher and mum to Vivienne in kindy, and very recently, we welcomed Sarah Farrell Whelan as our Wellbeing Support person.
Our staff continue to be dedicated to our way of educating.
The future of the school is reliant on people understanding, at a very deep level, how we walk alongside each other to know each other, and enable growth and development for students, staff and parents. We are committed to sustaining and developing our community as we are all learners and teachers of humanity.
This gathering, all of us, is who we are. No one is perfect, nowhere is perfect.
We are constantly evolving. Our mistakes are our greatest teachers.
So, as we linger in each other’s company today, we hope you share memories, take a wander, sign the visitors book, and absorb- at a profound level- the fact that we belong here. Korowal is us.
Thank you for your years of love, care, friendships, and hard work in sustaining a community.
Our special thanks are extended to:
Caroline, Jes, Deb; as well as Mel and Susan in our school office. To Alison Cooke, Lisa Ferugson and Rosie at Wildhive; to Neill Duncan and the student and staff performers; our students for their Welcome to Country; our Coordinators, teachers and support staff, our gardeners and maintenance people; our parent and student volunteers.
We then adjourned to the turning circle where we planted rhododendrons in honour of two people who have assisted us through troubled waters. Bruce Corlett- in appreciation for his sage advice and introductions which enabled us to secure financing; John Shaw, in appreciation for his relentless work for us and sadly now, in his memory.