Week 10, Term 4, 2022
This Is a Happy Story!
By chance, 26 years ago I happened to land in the right place. I never imagined that I would enjoy a professional life spanning two and a half decades here at Korowal. This has been a rich, inspiring, expansive, occasionally gruelling and gratifying experience. I am one of the most fortunate people in the world!
‘One of the best jobs, with some of the worst days’. I absolutely concur with this description of principalship. However, in facilitating children and young people’s Holistic growth there is much to cherish and to celebrate.
Almost every working-day, for 26 years, I have been surrounded by people who care for each other, and for me. Add to that, an environment where people matter before profit; where authenticity prevails over duplicity; where you are seen and heard; where children bounce, and young people laugh & sing; where respect is everything; where kindness prevails; where the natural environment, ‘Country’, is our safe space.
That, has been my fortunate life.
In search of context and understanding, I undertook the Flagship program in 2013 ‘towards principalship’. There were 30 other independent school leaders in the course. I’d like to share a particular image with you today that was a turning point for me, and transformed my thinking about Korowal.
I was struck by how different our school cultures and experiences can in the independent sector. At that time things were rough here. We needed to refinance or we would go under. No other candidate’s school was in such a situation.
I visualised this: We were all in the same sector, let’s call it- the same ocean. On the ocean are vessels of various shapes and sizes. I imagined Korowal as a small tug boat, strong and dependable, full of colour and laughter, riding the waves, with the community all pitching in and bucketing out water when the seas were high. We were in it together, small and gutsy.
On this same sea, we were surrounded by ocean liners, bigger independent schools, where people were relaxing on the deck, occasionally noticing us down below, intrigued by the activity and good cheer, while sitting in comfort and otherwise engaged. The seas were not impacting their journey, yet we were bailing out water. They were impervious to the impact of the tides, to the weather patterns, to our dilemma, and also our frivolities.
Then it dawned on me. If there was a challenging situation on the sea it would take the liners a longer time to respond, to change course, to return to dry land. They may well need some assistance from the tug boat! Agile, quick, strong, adaptable. We are small but we are mighty. Lifelines would be cast and we would lead the way.
We are ‘the strong one’. Our purpose is significant. Thus, my visualisation for Korowal going forward was sealed. Within the big picture, we matter.
I’m an optimist. As much as we try, we will never and can never be all things to all people. I am satisfied that I have done as best I could. In getting to this day there are so many people that have influenced me and for whom I am thankful. There’s not time to speak to all of these people publicly.
We know that anyone working at Korowal today, or in the past, will tell you that it is a vocation, not a job, and it overflows into your family and lifestyle. I want and need to thank my immediate and extended family for their support and belief in me. Our children attended Korowal for 13 years. Their friends’ parents became our friends, our shared values gave us a sense of belonging. To Mark, Olivia and Eamon, your patience, love, listening and support have been palpable and grounding. You understood the gig, the public and private. I thank you from the depths of my heart.
As have my sisters and brothers, all ten of them. Three of my sisters sent their children to Korowal. We have had 9 Fitzies go through, with the final one graduating in 2021.
MY DEEPEST THANKS
In any situation, there are often challenges and tensions in remaining true to oneself, in staying aligned with our values, in reflecting on practice. Nancy Oosterhoff, Bec Finch, Mel Williams, Talulah Vane and Mark Thomas have been authentic colleagues. We have faced some of the most extreme challenges possible yet, rather than splitting or causing schisms, our relationships deepened through these. Personally, I am a better human being from working alongside these people.
I acknowledge and thank the people that I have been fortunate to have as mentors: Bruce Corlett- walking alongside me and introducing me to the world of business and finance; and Dr Leoni Degenhardt, an educational leader as mentor, coach, consultant & critical friend.
To Greg Lucas as ex-Chair, and Chris Lee who remains Chair- of the School Board, during my time as Principal. When under pressure we often co-pilot! I acknowledge all of the directors, current and past, for your dedicated gifts of time and readiness for whatever comes our way.
To the Korowal community, thank you for entrusting me with leading this beautiful school for 10 years. I take volumes of fond memories with me and look forward having time to reflect on, and enjoy, those memories. Now is a time of change for me. I have loved being here, I have grown up here and so have my 2 children. We have been nurtured and loved at this beautiful school.
After a rest I will apply the experience and knowledge that I have accumulated. I will also enjoy being a mentor, coach, for other principals who ride the wild seas of education. I want to write, and I need to have a long holiday.
However, Korowal is my essence, it’s the blood that runs through my veins. I will not lose what I have, and my heart is richer for this. But I will miss you all dearly.
Go gently, go well.... I’ll see you 'round the mountains. Following on with the nautical theme, it is now with absolute confidence and trust that I pass on the Captaincy of Korowal, from 2023, to Cindy Barnsley.
Here is a Link to a 4 minute tribute, created by Eamon O’Flynn and Christina Wootton.
Week 9, Term 4, 2022
As we round off Week 9, we have two days of school left for 2022. In hindsight, where has the year gone? In the present moment, it was as jam packed with learning as every other year, month, week, day- whether in the classroom, the playground or on the field. Kizz Boyd sums up the spirit of Korowal beautifully in this review of the Huff and Puff Gala Day, an event that had been postponed for the previous two years.
“It was so wonderful to finally have a Primary Huff and Puff Gala Day back on the calendar after a covid and rain-related hiatus. Remarkably, we scored one of the best days of summer weather this year and had to chase the shade for most of the day. It was a celebration of participation, the joy of physical activity and movement, as well as the usual display of inclusion and encouragement we see from our students, staff and families on these days of coming together. My favourite moment was when our final Kindy runner completed her 400m run to the cheers of the whole community, with older students giving her high fives and cheers from the fence. The tooth fairy has been busy at her house because as she rounded the final bend I was greeted with the largest, most enraptured, and satisfied toothless smile, from a 6 year old who felt as happy finishing last as the 6 year old who finished first. I'm a sports purist at heart, raised on a healthy dose of brutal 'winners and losers' in the 90s - so moments like those at Korowal, always get me in the feels. Our students' authentic embodiment of inclusion and celebration, was on full display at our Gala Day in 2022.” Cheers, Kizz.
FAREWELLS and WELCOMES
As the year draws to a close, the staff and students are saying our farewells to a few valued friends and colleagues. Carlie, our open, kind, talented and committed interim Music teacher for 2022 has now handed over to Steve Clark, for he commenced the 2023 HSC Music with the new cohort in Week 5. We also farewell Nicola, our high school HSIE teacher. Nicola joined us through the lockdown period and it was evident from the start what a fine teacher she was. Nicola didn’t get to meet staff face-to-face for about a term! She and her family are returning to the sunny North Coast. In her place we welcome Georgina Khoo. Georgina has worked in Primary this term and, as a high school trained HSIE, English and Drama teacher, will be taking HSIE and English, as well as supporting our Cabaret in 2023. Georgina is a very capable, creative and diligent teacher.
We also said our ‘Bye for now’ to Karen and Anne. For both Karen and Anne this has been a difficult decision, but family comes first. Three years of the pandemic have prompted many of us to reconsider how we are living our lives, the importance of family, and how to strike a work-life balance. Sadly, for Korowal, they are taking time out of teaching for now. Anne has held the High School Visual Arts program at Korowal for ten years, and embodies all the qualities that we strive to hold. Her students have produced an eclectic range of works, in many different media, and with great success. Anne is a highly valued, funny and cherished colleague.
In her three years here, Karen has been a strong and supportive colleague to all in primary, a cherished, compassionate and diligent teacher and friend to her students, and valued and trusted guardian for the parents.
Thank you all for your total commitment to making our lives richer and for expanding our minds and sprits.
However, there is good news in this for Korowal. As we ride the waves of change, we recognise new opportunities. As our colleagues are parting, other equally talented teachers and leaders are seeking us out. They are exercising choice and leaving big, less personal settings, to embrace the scale and style of learning that our School offers, where people, relationships, kindness and respect are core values and central to that learning. Both the philosophy and our C.A.R.E education model are the great attractors. We are an oasis in an expiring landscape.
We welcome Emma Hogan to High School Art. A passionate and dedicated Visual Arts teacher, Emma brings vast experience from her 16 years of teaching and leading at MLC Croydon. Emma is also a Korowal parent and has been (occasionally) relief teaching for us for a few years now. Karen will be replaced by Emma Joy Reardon, a primary teacher with vast experience and strengths in the creative arts. Emma Joy has worked in the Steiner Schools system as well as state schools. With 13 years of teaching experience as a generalist primary teacher, performing arts specialist teacher, French language specialist teacher, LOTE teacher, Emma is also an ex-student of Korowal so she has a deep connection to our culture. For some reason students keep coming back as if Korowal was a place where people belong. Because they do.
As has been the case for ever, Korowal continues to engage in progressive educational thinking, bringing heart, mind and spirit to our children and young people as we listen and respond to our students, our families, our environment. The longer I work with Cindy Barnsley, our current Deputy and soon to be Principal, the more I have confidence that the school is in sound hands. Cindy understands our priorities, and is very happy to take the school into its next phase. She has the full support of our staff.
And I am counting down….There are still a few more farewell ceremonies I believe, as I take each day, one at a time. I will be penning one final Window with a View next week, and it has been great to hold you in my mind each week as I reflect on what has been and is yet to come.
Let’s enjoy the last few days of the school calendar!
Week 8, Term 4, 2022
In reflecting on Week 8, while we would like to think things are slowing down, it appears we are very busy trying to squeeze as much as we can into our calendars and enjoy events onsite and offsite.
YEAR 2 CAMP
Year 2 had their first camp when they held a sleepover at school on Friday evening. Thank you to the parents who helped with catering and the teachers who supported the group to have a great time together. Some managed to stay the whole night and others for as long as they could possibly manage to be away from their families. From all accounts, it was eventful.
Years 5 & 6 had an excursion to Western Sydney Parklands on Friday, and we look forward to hearing how that went for all involved.
HUFF AND PUFF GALA SPORTS EVENT
On Monday, Primary will finally enjoy their Huff and Puff Gala Day after two previous postponements! Kizz has prepared a day of fun filled events and we hope to see you on the day at Gloria Park in Hazelbrook. Parents are warmly invited to attend and are welcome to wear colours in support, to make signs and bring streamers and so on. We also ask you to bring picnic blankets, picnic chairs, rugs and/or small tarps for sitting on. In keeping with our healthy food guidelines, please do not bring lollies, chocolates, junk food or fizzy drink.
UNPACKING ORACY AT KOROWAL
This event is on Monday evening at 5.30pm. Here is the zoom link, so come along and hear what we are up to. We want you to know and hear from our teachers about the inspiring opportunities they are layering into the classroom learning experiences. https://us02web.zoom.us/s/84616677365?pwd=MlYySEUybGVtZFQ0cTB5aVFBeFI0QT09#success
OFF TO THE ZOO
On Tuesday, Kindy, Years 1 & 2 are going to the Zoo! What a treat they have in store for them all. Let’s hope “the lions sleep tonight”.
GRADUATION EVENTS FOR YEARS 6 and 10
On Friday, we will be holding two events well worth celebrating, as they mark significant milestones along the educational journey. Year 10 and families will have their Graduation Ceremony through the day, and Year 6 and families will celebrate their Graduation event the same evening. We extend congratulations to all the students in reaching this stage and completing both Junior High School and Primary School, respectively.
Currently, sitting at the computer and reflecting on the past and upcoming weeks, everything is infused with the knowledge that I will only be writing another 2 of these posts! I am entering the final countdown of my Principalship of Korowal School, a thought that seems to be very difficult for me to grasp. I know there are preparations afoot as people say “Barb’s coming” when I enter a room, with a big smile on their faces. Or I am asked to stay away from an area as Primary are gathering…. “for a particular reason!” How does one prepare to say farewell after 26 years, where my life and the life of Korowal have been entwined?
Well, I am about to find out, and hopefully in a very gradual and gracious manner. It’s time to let the tears flow in a very gentle fashion, while the laughs and memories play themselves out, as if watching a flicker film. I have been one of the most fortunate people in the world to have spent every working day surrounded by loving and intelligent people whose values are so aligned, and who care for each other and our world. Being with children brings out the best in us as it opens our hearts and minds in wonderment.
Photo: Year 6 Ethan, storytelling- Oracy activity
Week 7, Term 4, 2022
My goodness, the year is flying and we are beginning to celebrate the cumulative successes of the year!
SHORTLISTED FOR ONSTAGE
This week we received the wonderful information that Emma Lee, a Year 11 student
who completed the HSC Drama Course in our Pathways Compressed HSC program,
has been shortlisted for On Stage. This is the showing of exemplar HSC works
across the state. Being shortlisted demonstrates that the work is of the highest
standard, whether selected for the final showcase or not. We extend our
CONGRATULATIONS Emma and also Kelly, her Drama teacher. This is a big
SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION FOR BUILDING GRANT
Last year we developed our 10 year Master Plan for improvement of facilities. This
year we applied to the Building Grant Authority for a Federal Government grant to
contribute towards Phase 1- to refurbish our Primary School. This week we
celebrate that we have been informed by Susan Templeman’s office and the
Association of Independent Schools that we have been successful. Special thanks
are extended to Mel Williams, our Business manager, for her fine work in preparing
the extensive application.
WELCOME OUR NEW DEPUTY PRINCIPAL, MATTHEW WHALEY
As I prepare to leave Korowal, the School could not in better hands than with the
incoming leaders. Cindy Barnsley will step across from being our Deputy and into the
role of Principal at Korowal in 2023, having had 6 months getting to know the School.
It is timely to introduce you to our incoming Deputy from 2023, Matthew Whaley. In
the final week of this year Matthew will attend some of our Korowal events where
you can meet him in person, alongside Cindy.
We asked Matthew to write an introduction for our community, and the following post
warmly introduces us to Matthew’s voice.
“When sitting down to write this introduction, I diligently listed all the facts about
myself and my career so that I could give you all a reduced and condensed view of
the self that seems to be the norm these days. But to be honest, it wasn’t the side of
myself that I wanted you to know. I don’t think any of my family or friends would
describe me in list format. They would definitely use large expressive gestures and
tortured facial expressions perhaps, but not a list.
I come from a long line of deeply passionate storytellers; Actors, Writers, Theatre
and Film Directors and Teachers, who would all turn in their graves at the notion that
I tried to form an impression of myself through a catalogue of achievements. All
members of my family lived by the maxim that the act of telling a story is one of the
most powerful forms of connection. So, in order that I honour my tradition and make
a connection with you all, I’ll try to tell you a story of who I really am and most
importantly, between the lines, who I wish to be for Korowal.
Truth be told, I cannot really separate myself from the means by which I came to be
employed by your beautiful school. Korowal influenced me long before I properly
knew anything about the place or its people. You see, many years ago a close
colleague and friend returned from HSC Drama marking gushing about a mythical
mountains institution where the children asked questions and challenged ideas. She
sat with me in our tiny school toilet converted to a costume room converted to a
Drama staffroom and vividly painted a picture of a group of kids who were utterly
engaged with the philosophies behind their performances. She described, in detail, a
class who saw the act of performance as a means of open conversation with their
audience over and above the customary vainglorious moment of ego affirmation.
This talk in our badly disguised toilet cubicle was where Korowal first touched my life,
and I can tag this as the first step on a long path that would lead me to where I am
now. Fourteen years ago I started to want from my students what my colleague had
seen at your school. I wanted my kids to love what they were doing beyond the
arbitrary mark that they received at the end of a task. Off I went to study a masters in
developmental psychology and creativity, in the hope that I would find tips and tricks
to get the kids to love the act of creation.
Three years later, I found instead, a deeper understanding of the complexity of
people. There were no shortcuts or silver bullets in the countless journals and
textbooks. At the heart of inspiring love and passion for creativity was the need to
create and foster cultures that promoted safe and challenging exploration of the self,
others and the imagination.
But I knew this. Sitting there in my subconscious, slowly processing, was the training
that I had received with a renowned acting teacher in France years before. This
teacher was not known for his own work but rather by the famous creativity of his
students. His school was a wellspring of incredibly diverse and successful architects,
musicians, actors, directors, writers, painters, and poets. This divergent creativity
didn’t come about because of the material he taught but rather from of his ability to
connect with his pupils, to play with his students and most importantly his ability to
instil a desire for them to be open to new, wild and wonderful experiences.
Back in my life post study I was lost. My metric had changed, I believed that success
was linear, I strove for the heights of recognition in the richest and fanciest schools.
Places where Dead Poets feared to tread. And in these cultural deserts my students
did well, they did really well, meeting all the narrow measures that these places set
for recognition. The kids also however, excelled at life, and in doing so they
challenged the ideas about how they were asked to live in these communities and
consequently were punished for being themselves. So, in the end these kids taught
me that ideology and worldview mean nothing if it forces a child to bury who they are
and live a lie.
In a place of despondency and darkness, a chink of light emerged in the form of a
job ad. My wife handed it to me saying that it looked exciting, she had in turn been
given it by one of our oldest and closest friends, a parent at Korowal. Memories of a
conversation in a toilet came back to me and I knew I had to call this friend and ask
her about the school. She told me the story of a place where everyone was
completely human, where the staff are intelligent and engaged people who deeply
care about the kids and how it “just feels right”. I put on my best clothes, walked up a steep drive past circular groups of engrossed small children standing amongst thriving vegetable gardens, through the doors of a beautiful building and felt immediately at home.
To say I am excited to be working here would be a socially acceptable expression of
my inner state at the moment. I am most looking forward to connecting with the
communities of staff, students & parents in this next phase of my life. Please, please
don’t hesitate to make contact with me, I am relying on you all to help me to find the
Korowal that you see and experience daily, so that I can come to understand the rich
tapestry of this place and community”. Matthew Whaley.
As we enter our final weeks of term, may we all stay well and look out for each other
by staying away from school if we are unwell. We are remaining vigilant about cross
ventilation and good hygiene practices.
I continue to enjoy every day at Korowal.
Week 6, Term 4, 2022
In week 6 we are giving over the posting to Primary Bush School. Here, Talulah Vane writes of the colour and life of the experiences enjoyed by all participants.
“This week saw what was possibly my favourite BUSH SCHOOL ever! There was a gentle, exploratory feel to the day as the children, staff and volunteers joined in a range of nature-based learning activities on our abundantly green grounds."
"It was a rich and memorable experience for the children and staff to work with iconic fashion-designer and artist, Linda Jackson, as she shared artworks, sketches, fabrics and children's clothing samples from her significant collection, much of which is inspired by the landscapes, plants and animals of Australia. In a clearing between the meadow and the bush, Linda spoke about the use of form and colour to create her designs and lead the children in a collage making activity which we will finish in Art lessons. The children listened with a deep respect and engagement, sharing their skills developed in Oracy as they responded to her work. It wasn't long until Linda began talking about her next visit to our 'rainbow school', sharing that 'we've got so much more to make together!'. We are already looking forward to working with Linda again!"
Thank-you to our Year 6 leaders for their responsibility and care as they supported the flow of the day and the younger children in their groups. Thank-you to our awesome parent volunteers- Amelia, Carmo, Sally, Gini and David- it was fantastic to have your help across the day and the BBQ was the best yet! Thank-you to the staff for their careful planning and facilitation of interesting and engaging activities. And thank-you to the kids for the considerate, energetic, dynamic learning and play that made the day.
Here are some reflections from our teachers:
Nature Journaling at the week’s Bush School saw every child observing nature and journaling their thoughts and observations. I notice… I wonder… It reminds me of… Many beautiful pages were created of snails, ants, roses, hydrangea and creeping buttercups. ~Karen
It was so nice to see the older students leading the younger ones to think scientifically as they conducted a water filtration experiment. ~Andy
Karen and I had such a wonderful day nature journaling with the kids! There were some big smiles and pride in the drawings they had done. Some volunteered to share their answers in the mini-presentations we held at the end of each session. ~Elise
One of the great things about Bush School is that we get to explore different areas of our beautiful school grounds. In weed removal and mud play the children venture into 'out of bounds' territory near the creek. They cleared invasive plants with amazing strength and tenacity. In this way they created some open space to dig holes and make mud and build 'stuff'. An added bonus is that teachers will now be able to access this space for similar activities with their own classes. ~Rita
It is also noteworthy and we have posted these on Facebook, that Kizz has secured an excellent Phys Ed experience for our high school students. “Years 8 and 9 have now completed 3hrs each of introductory Dragon Boat training with volunteer members of the Blue Mountains Club and an expert coach from the team building business Leaps And Bounds Ahead. Week two could not have provided a more spectacular day for this experience. Students worked as a team, pushed themselves physically and soaked up some sunshine. It was a pleasure for the accompanying teachers to participate alongside them. What a wonderful sport!” ~Kizz
This week we will bring focus to tone and intention. Depending upon our intention or emotional state, the way we express a simple phrase will alter in tone. It will also be received differently by the listener, inducing a response according to how it is being delivered.
Here is a fun family activity. Play with saying these statements with the emotions listed below.
- It’s almost Summer holidays
- I didn't bring money for lunch
- My friends are coming to visit this weekend
Emotions: Excited, Disappointed, Nervous, Ecstatic, Confused, Worried, Angry
Listen for the subtle and obvious differences in tone (the way you speak) and inflection (pitch or loudness) are when layering the different emotions. Also chat about the different impact they have on the listener.
Week 5, Term 4, 2022
We are having such fun as the end of the year approaches. This week, three classes were out on camps. Year 5 attended Collaroy Plateau and Taronga Zoo, integrating many areas of learning across their Focus Studies. They explored the natural environment and ‘living adaptation’. Through the programs they experienced at the Zoo, they gleaned an understanding of the positive impact people can make through projects, such as those run by Taronga Zoo.
On Day 1- “We are having a great time on camp. The Ranger Jamie experience at BobbinHead National Park was a gentle way to start the adventure. Our guide, Ranger Leila, was impressed at how knowledgeable our students are about the natural world and how respectful they are. Once we settled in at Collaroy Centre we walked to the beach where our class enjoyed building sandcastles. Next was dinner followed by games and a talent show. The children enjoyed having a moment to shine in front each other. There was a mix of funny, beautiful and surprising, moments across the performances”.
On Day 2- “We had a great day. The students were engaged and enjoyed the scavenger hunt which took us across the whole zoo!! (The bird show brought me tears of joy)”. They arrived home at 5.00pm on Friday afternoon, tired and happy.
Years 11 and 12 camped at Dunns’ Swamp, enjoying water activities without rain! Our staff of Jason, Mark and Mikayla enjoyed kayaking activities, Aboriginal cultural experiences led by Redhill Adventure Group. The purpose of this camp was to provide new experiences while the students are getting to know each other, and after an intensive period of exams. This group is our 2023 cohort of Pathways students and they are commencing new subjects and classes in week 6. We received daily satellite phone messages that all was going smoothly, the sun was bright and warm, and that the food was great. Not much more to want really!
COCURRICULAR IN HIGH
For the remainder of the year our Co-Curricular activities are expanding on Thursday
afternoons. Students are beginning their preparations and generating ideas towards Cabaret 2023 in Music and Drama. Chess club has returned, 3D Printing is available, and there are two further sporting opportunities available for Years 7, 8 and 9.
In this week’s posting we resurrect the sharing of our Oracy practices with families as we did in Term 1, so that you too can understand and even apply the methodologies we use at Korowal. These communication skills can be taught and practised at home. What makes a good discussion? While we participate according to our abilities and interest, there are times when we are unaware of the signals we are sending. This week we explain a few practical ‘guidelines for discussions’. Your child may be familiar with these as they form the basis of the ground rules used for talk in classrooms.
We are interested in hearing how you go with this.
In Week 6 we have quite a few events, including swimming classes for Years 3-6, a picnic for Years 2 & 3 families (as Year 2 move into the next Stage of learning, Stage 2, in 2023), Bush School for Primary, the Year 10 Semi-Formal… and much more.
Our social calendars start to fill as we get closer to celebrating the year’s end. May you enjoy each day and go gently.
Week 4, Term 4, 2022
Week 4 of Term 4 was a week of transitions. Our Year 12 graduates completed their HSC exams on Thursday, a major undertaking now joyously behind them. Their Graduation Formal on Sunday evening was their final celebration, and we witnessed their delight in coming together for one final event, radiant and happy to have completed school. As one graduate commented, “I came here for my HSC. One year ago, I would never have been able to stand here and speak to you but tonight I can. Thank you Korowal.” He was eloquent and grateful, and such a confident speaker! We extend our congratulations to our graduates and their parents for completing this significant stage in their lives.
Year 10 completed their Exams as well, and with that they will step from junior high to senior high. They will commence Year 11 on Monday as a new cycle of our Pathways model of HSC begins. They will be joined by a new Year 12 cohort as our Year 11 class of 2022 become Year 12 and embark on their second cycle of subjects. Having just completed their HSC exams in their first three subjects undertaken in Year 11, they are half way through their HSC.
At the other end of the school, on Thursday our Year 6 students were welcomed into high school for an Orientation Day of Year 7, enjoying flavours and embracing new challenges, tasters of things coming their way in 2023. They were warmly welcomed by teachers and fellow students, and expressed some nervous anticipation at the prospect of moving into high school. Even though we are on the same campus, the structures of high school and subjects on offer are quite different from primary. We welcome new students into the class as the numbers build in high school, allowing for new friendships.
If you haven’t experienced our High School and have children in upper primary, I recommend that you book a visit. It really is something out of the box! We offer unique educational experiences in a small and engaging setting. Our teachers are second to none which is why this week we celebrated ‘Hats Off to Teachers’, thanking them for all they do and the qualities they bring to us all each and every day.
New timetables are distributed this coming week. As we move into the commencement of our Pathways cycle, there have been a few changes to the structure of the Mathematics classes in high school. Jennie will now be taking Pathways Mathematics Standard 2 course and Mark will now teach Year 7 and Year 9 Standard Mathematics classes for the remainder of the year.
The sun is shining and we are happy to be feeling the warmth as we embrace another school week. May you enjoy the company of yourself, and others.
Week 3, Term 4, 2022
In Week 3, Kindy, Years 1 & 2 attended swimming lessons in preparation for the Summer season. The rest of Primary will do the same in Week 5. Years 3 & 4 attended their annual camp at Brewongle Environment Educational Centre, engaging in code breaking using a GPS to navigate clues, handling and studying reptiles as well as experiencing Aboriginal Cultural acticities. As the students reflected on their most memorable moments, laughter was at the core of all of their experiences.
Our HSC exams continue. Year 10 completed their Human Wellbeing fieldwork with Lyttleton Stores in Lawson as well as their revision classes, in preparation for their exams next week. Year 10 students will commence Year 11 Pathways subjects in Week 5 of Term 4, and we welcome five new families to the school for their young person’s senior years.
Alan Howe in residence at Korowal
Across the school we continued to work with Alan Howe, our Oracy Cambridge Educational Consultant. On Thursday evening Alan was our guest speaker where he and a panel of Korowal staff sat in conversation about the Dialogic Practices of Oracy and Open Dialogue at our School. A small yet interested gathering of parents reflected back to us on their children’s experiences in very positive ways, and submitted further questions. These questions will inform our planning for the further two sessions we have planned for Tuesday 22nd November on Open Dialogue, and Wednesday 5th on Oracy.
We realise that it can be challenging to leave the house and come to meetings after work and with small children, however we encourage it so that our parents get a deeper experience of what we are doing at Korowal. When using dialogic practices, we respond to the people in the room and adapt our processes accordingly. As the methods we are using and discussing are process based rather than being factual, they involve participation through the spoken word, talking to each other, the small group, the large group. The skills we teach the students include the subtle reading of body language, tone, gesture, and connection. They involve immersing rather than viewing. It is not as successful attending over the internet rather than in the same physical space, and for this reason, we are not providing a zoom link.
For two plus years we have not been able to come together to expand on the unique ways we are developing classroom experiences, but we can now. We will demonstrate these across the next two evenings, scheduled for a 5.30pm start. We are also offering child minding. Come along and meet the team who are taking this into the future, including Cindy Barnsley, our incoming Principal in 2023.
What does the research say?
This research is current and relevant to us in support of Dialogic Practices, and Oracy in particular. In 2019 The University of Cambridge ran a study which revolved around two lessons, (covering two of mathematics, literacy and science), in each of 72 demographically diverse classrooms (students aged 10-11 years). The study found that students made better progress in Maths and English when teachers:
achieved high levels of participation in dialogue
(e.g. numerous children contribute to a whole class discussion and discuss each other’s ideas);
encouraged children to elaborate their ideas
(e.g. ‘Can you explain a bit more what you mean by that?);
encouraged the questioning of ideas by students
(e.g. ‘Do you agree that Tom is right?’);
organised group work judged as ‘high quality’.
operated these features together, creating a genuinely dialogic classroom.
These are practices that our teachers include in their classrooms every day at Korowal.
We are onto something!
Week 2, Term 4, 2022
In Week 2, the Food Forrest garden is developing, and next Monday our primary students will assist with the plantings and watering over the next few weeks, that is if the rain doesn’t do that for us! Due to community effort and participation in creating and attending our celebratory and inviting Open Day and Fair, we raised $6,500! The money raised is going directly into the establishment and maintenance of the Food Forrest, our sustainability project for this term. This is being constructed through volunteer and paid work, donations and purchases. It requires quite a boost of funds to establish this beautiful project. Thank you everyone! Come Summer the produce will be bountiful and the children and young people will benefit from the food and processes.
Cindy Barnsley is the successful candidate for Principal.
This week we are delighted to announce that Cindy Barnsley will move from being our
recently appointed Deputy Principal to Principal of Korowal School in 2023. Cindy joined us at the start of Term 3. As the Chair of the School Board, Chris Lee, announced to our community on Thursday, “The interview panel and Board were most impressed by Cindy’s depth of understanding of the unique programs and approach that Korowal is taking, her experience within the international educational landscape, and her passion. Cindy is excited to be stepping into the role, providing leadership for Korowal in our next phase”.
Cindy was attracted to Korowal for several reasons, the first and foremost being our school’s values. “I am interested in enquiry- based teaching and learning and passionate about student and teacher agency. I am very interested in the work Korowal School is doing as the projects we are implementing are exciting”, said Cindy. Cindy’s pedagogical leadership is enhanced by her postgraduate qualification in school leadership. This is a marvellous outcome and gives me great confidence as I plan to step away from my role at Korowal. This information was received with joy by the staff, and we all extend our congratulations to Cindy.
It is strange to be mid-flight in planning for 2023 knowing that this is my final term at this beautiful School. After 26 years at Korowal this place runs through my veins and while it is time for me to pull back and enjoy a less hectic life, I will miss the people enormously. More of that before the end of term!
A Midsummers Nights Dream
What a privilege it was to attend the Year 9/10 Drama elective production this weekend. Kelly had woven mastery into the direction and the students rose to the occasion. Jason supported the production through creating impressive multifunctional set pieces which the cast manipulated with dexterity, creating simple scene changes on this minimalistic set. He also managed the technical aspects for the show.
Most impressive was the dynamic between the performers, who together told the story of the star-crossed lovers and the complexities of mismanaged magic. The ensemble was strong, connecting in every scene. After three years without many opportunities to perform, the strength and talent of this group was a delightful surprise, for we had not experienced many of the students in performance previously. Thank heavens we can enjoy theatre again. The gift the cast gave us was the opportunity to be transported into another realm, to laugh and smile, to marvel at the talent, and be ever so thankful for the shared story. Bravo!
Reminder: This Thursday evening
At 5.30-6.30 In Conversation about ORACY AND OPEN DIALOGUE in the School hall. Please RSVP for child minding as we need to book the carers.
As we move in to Week 3, we are again engaging in camps, swimming, HSC exams and more. What a busy place we are!
Bye for now,
Week 1, Term 4, 2022
We have settled back into our routines and enjoyed having time outdoors in Week 1 of Term 4. The HSC exams began this week, Year 10 have commenced revision for their final exam assessments in Week 4, and Primary teachers are doing their gentle assessments of their children in literacy and numeracy this term as we complete our learning programs.
Korowal welcomes Alan Howe, of Oracy Cambridge
We have once again welcomed Alan Howe to our school for a four-week residency. Alan is an Associate with Oracy Cambridge and a By-Fellow of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge. We have worked closely with Alan as our Oracy advisor throughout the past four years, during which we have been refining and embedding Oracy practices across the school. Covid interrupted a couple of residencies however we continued our connections online, so it is doubly sweet to have Alan return and to receive the feedback that he is witnessing something pretty special.
With confidence, we place Oracy directly alongside Literacy and Numeracy. Learning 'to talk' and 'through talk' has never been more important. We work together to develop the essential Oracy skills in our graduates through teaching both active and appreciative listening – which includes being respectful in response. We are developing specialised vocabulary. Through encouraging their curiosity, students share opinions, building on and extending their knowledge and learning through the spoken word. This in turn enhances the written word. Whether they are entering university, apprenticeships, customer service, or parenthood, communication skills have been identified as essential for current and future workplaces. They are also essential skills for building community. The prioritising of empathy and a myriad of perspectives can only enrich our human experiences, so we layer this approach from Kindy through to Year 12.
On Thursday evening, the 27th October, Alan will be presenting alongside our staff at our Korowal Community Gathering. Together we will illuminate you further on our dialogic practices, the patterns of which are unique to Korowal. I encourage all of our families to send a representative along.
Staff changes in High School
Following Rick's retirement last term, we want to update families on changes to a number of high school classes for Term 4. Year 10 will have their exams in week 4, and have only two remaining weeks of classes. In Week 5 the group will become Year 11 as they commence their Pathways HSC. Jennie Bucco will take Year 9 and 10 Mathematics for the first 3 weeks. Then from Week 5, Jennie will continue with Year 9 Advanced and Mark Thomas will be teaching Year 9 Standard Mathematics.
We also welcome Jeremy Cook to the staff as our new Business Studies (Pathways) and Commerce (Year 9/10) teacher. Jeremy is an experienced social studies teacher who worked at St Andrew's Cathedral School in Sydney for many years before relocating to the mountains.
We can now confirm the commencement of our new Music Teacher as we welcome Steve Clark to Korowal. A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Steve is currently at Penrith Anglican College (PAC). Steve has been Head of Performing Arts in his last two schools. Having worked in a smaller independent school in a rural community prior to PAC, Steve is looking forward to returning to a smaller school environment. Steve brings a wealth of experience and will join us in Week 5, taking our new HSC Music class, junior Co-curricular, and working alongside Carlie in elective music until the end of term. Carlie will sadly be leaving us at the end of this year.
The recruitment of our new Principal for 2023 is almost complete and we should be in a position to make an announcement very soon. It is wonderful to welcome teachers and staff of such high calibre and who bring many years of experience to enrich our programme at Korowal.
May we slush through the next week with galoshes and smiles!
Barb and Cindy
Week 10, Term 3, 2022
As we rounded off Term 3, we enjoyed celebrating and farewelling our Year 12 students.
Thank You Rick
We also celebrated and farewelled Rick Morris, reflecting upon the contributions he has made to Korowal over the past 15 years of teaching Maths in our high school. Rick is now entering into retirement.
As shared by our staff, we know Rick as a gentle man- funny, patient, cool. A lover of puzzles and all things mind bending, a wonderful colleague, a confidant, mentor, a brother in arms, a mathematics guru, selfless, generous, hilarious. A friend who will be missed. Chirpy, smiley, humble, caring, Rick has been known to comment that ‘a goldfish can become gifted and talented if we only adjust the setting!’
As he said to the staff and students assembled, ‘Korowal is a great place- the happiest years in my teaching have been here. It’s now time to enjoy playing music and pottering in the garden.’
Rick is loved and cherished by us all, and will be fondly remembered by so many people for touching their lives, for inspiring them mathematically, and also for infusing his classes with good humour. We applaud our Rick and thank him for all he has brought into our lives. May you smile for years knowing that you are appreciated Rick!
Year 12 Graduation Ceremony
On Friday, we honoured our Year 12 Graduates, as well as their parents and teachers for this accomplishment. Each year this is a beautiful ceremony as we share our impressions and hear from students, their parents, and their teachers. This year I shared:
“Reflecting on this class and its character, the personality of the group, I am touched by their openness and compassion. Within the strong personalities there is a gentleness that they hold for each other, great care and acceptance. At this stage, in year 12, they have moved beyond needing to rattle cages or battling against the adults, to know that they are heard and seen by us all. There is a settled-ness in the group which is quite unique. Some strive for great things and others are more laid back; some have clear direction and others more subtly so. But every one of these people has demonstrated that they have a unique talent- with excellence across the many areas of Drama, Art, Music, History, Sciences, IT Multimedia & English.
Your years of senior study were unusual in the great scheme of things. When you were in Year 10, life threw a few curved balls our way and you/we have been juggling them ever since. 2022 has been the most stable year of that period, however I acknowledge that the uncertainty of our times is something that you know and have experienced. You have lived with this, and endured the disruptions to complete your HSC. You have demonstrated strength and durability. With the support of each other, of your teachers, your parents and friends, you have emerged stronger for the experience.
Not only have we been interrupted, but we have all been propelled into our inner worlds in a way not previously experienced, as the regular distractions and events were inhibited.
I would hope that this can be seen as a great motivator. For the road ahead, once you leave here, is far less certain and less organised than you find in a school environment. You take yourselves into this, and you are the sum of your experiences. You have experienced more than many generations of our graduates needed to do at your age. Your capacity to adapt and refocus is stronger. Your self-knowledge is also.
Throughout your years in high school, we have been both impressed and challenged by your
robust conversations about perceived injustices. Most recently, we have been impressed by your capacity to work alongside us and the evident kindness, tolerance and acceptance that you brought to the limitations imposed on all of us.
What we always hope to see in our graduates is a reflection of the very purpose of our school, that:
‘Korowal inspires compassionate and discerning voices for a sustainable world’.
I believe we do indeed see that in you.
We encourage you to take your voice into the wider community, to new friends and new tutorials, to the workplace, to the decision makers. Speak up for what you believe is fair and just with fervour, and also compassion.
Allow yourselves the time to notice what is happening within, to reflect on your part. As Mahatma Ghandi expressed so eloquently:
“As a person changes their own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Be bold, brave, messy, make lots of mistakes, and look after yourselves and each other. Allow yourselves to love and be loved. We are here, always happy to have you stop by for a chat, or to receive an email letting us know what you are up to.
Congratulations on graduating from Korowal School. Goodluck, and FLY!”
We wish the students all the best for their upcoming HSC exams.
Have a happy and safe holiday!
Week 9, Term 3, 2022
In Week 9 we were exquisitely entertained by our primary children as they performed their unique version of The Wizard of Oz. Such life, music, bravery and colour onstage can only evoke one response, and that is gobsmacking joy. The audience were grinning from ear to ear, laughing in all the right places, and shedding tears at the beauty of the singing.
Without a doubt this has been a highlight of not only this year, but the past 3 years. We came together as a community, in the hall, without restrictions, enjoying the children and each other’s company. The play had been adapted by Sarah, Andy and primary staff to incorporate our values of kindness and restorative practices and cater for the whole school. It spoke volumes of what has been missing, of the absence of opportunities to share our work and play, as well as the beauty that is within the programs and work that the students and teachers engage with each and every day at Korowal.
We extend our deepest gratitude to Andy Medina, Sarah McGowan, Amelia (of Vocalosity), Rachel Dykes and all of the primary staff for their dedicated focus, and guidance. The greatest applause is extended to our students, who opened our hearts and gave us the gift or performance.
Korowal's Open Dialogue model is being presented at an international education conference
Following on from my visit to Oracy Cambridge, James Mannion issued an invitation for us to present our work at the inaugural Rethinking Education Conference in London, this September. As distance is an issue, we have produced a documentary film which outlines our work in Open Dialogue, and our presentation has been listed within the online platform at this conference.
What happens when you bring the social network around a student together to talk without an agenda and ask 'what is important for us to talk about today?' In response to this question, Sarah Farrell Whelan and I outline the practice at Korowal, with insights from staff, parents, students and health practitioners who have participated in Korowal Network Meetings. Within this overview of Open Dialogue, we explain what led Korowal to adopt this approach and how it has been adapted for the school setting.
The Conference was launched on Saturday 17th September and access to the keynotes and online presentations is open from September 18 (UK time). For more information or to find a link to tickets (by donation) for the online platform visit The Eventbrite page is here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lets-get-together-the-rethinking-education-conference-2022-tickets-226415834857
Assemblies in Week 10
As we enter the final week of term, Week 10 brings many celebrations, graduations and farewells. On Wednesday evening, Year 12 will attend their sleepover camp and reminisce on their schooling and time shared together. When they return to school on Wednesday, staff will enjoy a morning tea together with Years 11 and 12, and then move across to a Gift Giving Ceremony between Years 11 and 12, then between staff and Year 12. This will be followed by an end of term assembly, but not the graduation assembly. Year 12’s Graduation Ceremony has been put back to Friday at midday due to Thursday’s public holiday.
Our Wednesday assembly will be held in honour of Rick Morris, our much-cherished high school Maths teacher, who is moving into retirement. In preparation for this significant event, last year we employed Jennie Bucco as our Maths Coordinator and high school maths teacher, so Rick’s experience of Korowal has been shared with Jennie over the last three terms.
More will be said about Rick in next week’s post. In the meanwhile, be assured that he will be honoured and given a beautiful send off.
Friday will be our final day of Term 3, a term filled with memories of opportunities to gather With the Fair and Open day, NAIDOC celebrations, Fun Run, Primary Play and Assemblies we have come together and rekindled our sense of belonging to a very special community. It has been a term of significant celebration as we immersed ourselves in cultural rituals, and look forward to a few more to come.
Have a beaut week,
Week 8, Term 3, 2022
Stine, our School Photographer, is close to finalising class and individual photos which is great news for us all. Stine has parent/carer email addresses and will contact parents directly to view their child’s photos with the opportunity to purchase. Prints and Digital files are both available for purchase. The photos you order as actual prints will be delivered to the school for collection. Any files you decide to order will be emailed with a link to you directly. Please keep an eye on your email inbox in the coming weeks.
Primary School Book Week Parade
What a great turn out we had at our Book week parade. The children in primary really went all out to bring colour and character to this event. So did the staff! Thank you all for rallying to cheer the parade along.
Thank-you for your ongoing support in our efforts to leave toys and stationery at home. Children are supplied their stationery needs by the school. It really makes a big, positive difference to the balance and harmony of learning and socialising at school.
As there are vast collections of bag toys in the corridors, we now ask that you support your child in keeping 'bag toys' at home (the kind that clip onto a school bag), as these have created issues with sharing, cooperation and social dynamics. As has always been the culture at Korowal, it is important that we create a fair and equitable environment. We have talked this through with the children in class and ask that they are put away in bags and then left at home.
One of the many areas impacted by Covid is the way we celebrate birthdays at school, (for those children who do celebrate birthdays). Prior to Covid, families would decide if they would like to provide something for their child to share with their class to celebrate a birthday, then consult with the teacher about food restrictions in the class. Families would then provide something like biscuits, cupcakes or a fruit plate, usually home-made, with ingredients listed.
Covid saw us move right away from these customs, with pre-packaged, commercially produced foods being the only option, and humming rather than singing our own Korowal birthday song.
What better time than now to reset and clarify our practices. The following is outline of what kinds of birthday treats accommodate the current needs of our community:
- Firstly, we acknowledge that not all families celebrate birthday rituals.
- There is no expectation that you provide something for birthdays at school.
- If bringing them to school, Birthday treats can be home-made with an ingredients list provided.
Birthday treats can also be pre-packaged, commercially prepared. If they are, please include an ingredients list and avoid artificial colours and flavours.
- If your child has an allergy, you may like to provide a small stash of acceptable, non-perishable treats for the teacher to give to your child on other children's birthdays. We will freeze these.
Wizard of Oz Costume Date
The play is coming along beautifully. On Friday the primary children were singing in a central classroom, and we could hear the beautiful music in the school office. It called us out of our seats and we stood and listened to ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. As we did so, tears streamed down our cheeks. E cannot wait for the performances!
A message from Talulah: I didn't let you know when we need your child's costume items for the play... Please provide these for dress rehearsal on Wednesday 14th September.
Equipment for School
It can be very difficult to learn and participate in classes if you are not equipped to do so. It is noticeable across the high school that many students do not bring basic equipment- pens, pencils, calculators. We ask that you check in with your young person and give them a reminder. The same can be said for arriving with enough food for the day. If there is no fuel in the tank, the revs will be very low.
When you discuss this please look for the following:
- Laptop Device- charged
- Pencil Case with pens, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, ruler
- A copy of their timetable
- Maths: Calculator, protractor, compass
- Textbooks (if applicable)
- Morning tea, lunch and a water bottle
All students have access to a locker and if they have concerns around any of this, please speak with their Year Mentor.
Year 9 Snow Camp Update
From what we hear, it is just terrific. We are sure to have many photos to share next week as they will return to school on Tuesday afternoon.
Week 9, Term 3
- Tues 13 Sept Year 9 Camp return
- Thurs 15 Sept Primary School Play (Surnames A-K)
- Fri 16 Sep Primary School Play (Surnames L-Z)
Week 10, Term 3
- TBC Year 12 Graduation Ceremony (Year 12 Parents Invited)
- Year 12 Farewell Assembly (Staff & Students only)
- Last day of Term 3 for Students
- Tues 11 Oct First day of Term 4 for Students
Barb, Caroline, Talulah
Week 7, Term 3, 2022
Now that we are in September, we have begun the final countdown before we farewell our Year 12, 2022 graduates. Year 12’s Graduation Ceremony will be held on Thursday 22nd September at 12pm, with a celebratory morning tea for parents from 11.30am. Invitations have now been sent to families and we are looking forward to welcoming you to this significant event.
We hold our Year 11 and 12 students in our thoughts as they sit their HSC Trial Exams throughout the coming week. We enjoyed being entertained by our HSC Drama students prior to them sitting their HSC practical examination at school on Friday, with examiners in attendance as they showcased their practical performances. Congratulations to the students and Kelly for the extensive range of works that you presented to us, from set & costume design through to director’s folio, film, individual monologue and group devised performances.
Dress in Character
Our Book Week Parade is happening on Tuesday 6th September and the more the merrier. We always enjoy dressing up and guessing who is which book character for the day.
A reminder that as we enter Spring the days are getting hotter and UV ray readings are getting higher. Please ensure that all students have a hat with them. In high school these are particularly important for outdoor classes such as for Science and Sport. A reminder went out separately to primary families this week.
Year 9 are preparing to leave for their Snow Camp, starting on Thursday 8th and going through to Tuesday the following week. Sun awareness is extremely important for this time away, so please ensure that all participants are prepared, with snow goggles and sunscreen.
IS it Kind, IS it Respectful?
We continue to work within our School’s values and when things are not going smoothy in peer relationships we ask these questions- Is it Kind? Is it Respectful? In our work with teenagers this is especially significant. The very question requires introspection. At the same time, it is a reminder that at school, we exist in relationship, and therefore our exchanges, our sideways glances, our body language as well as our words, are registered or received by others. What was the intention behind that comment/look/dismissal?
This week I received a comment from a staff member which has left a lingering impact on me. The high school teacher commented that, since we have returned from remote schooling and social isolation, they observe that some students are finding it hard to settle back into routines, or keep to the school’s rules regarding phones- away while at school, and restrictions on computer use in classes or during breaks. I share this with you so that we hold the awareness together. They are also finding that social courtesies seem to have fallen by the wayside, especially around language usage.
If you are seeing obsessive behaviours around the use of technology at home, seek help to try to work on it together. The young person who is withdrawing from social interaction and/or becoming irate when challenged to turn off the device may need some guidance to identify that this is an unhealthy practice. What we are noticing is that the language used when challenged tends to be disrespectful, direct and sometimes aggressive. The impact of such when said face to face (rather than in text, or in cutting someone out of a group chat), is that we are able to hold people directly accountable for the hurt cause they may cause through shunning, verbal abuse, or walking away from someone. If we ignore the impact of such behaviours, we are doing no one any favours. As parents and teachers, it is our role to hold the young people and each other to account. This appears to be needed more at present than in previous years. Please take the time to notice.
We are all in this together and it takes a village to raise a child.
Week 6, Term 3, 2022
There has been a buzz of energy and activity here at Korowal since our Open Day and Fair. There is a lot going on!
Primary School Performance The Wizard of Oz
In the Primary School our focus has been drawn to our up-coming musical performance of The Wizard of Oz (September 15th and 16th). Our Kindergarten-Year 6 performance is a wonderful opportunity for our classes and programs to work in synchronicity to develop characters, narrative and relationships as we extend our Oracy skills into the domain of dramatic expression.
Keep an eye out for skoolbag notifications regarding the play as your support will be needed to help get your child prepared.
The Fun Run was both of those things! It was spectacular to see so many of our community gather to run and/or walk a 1.25km track through our stunning grounds, or to cheer on those who did. While the Fun Run is not about competition- it is lovely to marvel at some of the stunning efforts made by students. From Kizz "In High School there was a year 12 student who didn't have to participate but chose to . They did 10 laps (12.5km) and a backflip to celebrate their finish. A Year 6 student completed 8 laps (10km) and a very determined little kindy completed 7 laps (8.75km)"
Please put together your sponsorship note and money and send into school with your child. Funds raised by the fun run this year will go towards the COLA (Covered Outdoor Learning Area).
A big thanks to Kizz who puts this uplifting and energising school event together, with a focus on positive participation by all students. The icy-poles were well deserved by the end of the day. It really was a day of big smiles and connection!
Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!
Week 5, Term 3, 2022
What a mega event we had yesterday, with so many new and familiar faces coming to celebrate together! Our first big gathering in 3 years, our Open Day and Fair, was a great acknowledgement of all that we love about Korowal.
THANK YOU, CAROLINE AND DEB!
Without your drive and vision, we would not have created this festive occasion.
Thank you to the multitude of helpers who volunteered time, gifts and delicious foods (Natalie). The fairy walk was an absolute highlight, as were the steam train, weaving, craft, face painting, student music, bazaar, flowers, plant stalls and BBQ. I think most visitors left with a bag or two of books and a Boomerang Bag.
The displays of student work, as well as the interactive activities conducted by staff and students, kept the buzz happening throughout the day. We applaud our staff and students as we shared their efforts with all visitors. The quality of work from Kindy through to senior school was remarkable.
Here is a montage created from photos by Tim Barnsley, sent through last evening, so aptly capturing the flavour of the day.
Week 4, Term 3, 2022
Our Open Day & Fair is next Saturday 20th August
Caroline and Deb (and their families) are leading the charge towards our Open Day and Fair as they work around the clock to create the schedules, place orders and bookings, audit equipment, create signage, draw up rosters and plan for weather options. It is particularly challenging this year as a generation of parent helpers have graduated over the three years since we have been able to hold this big celebratory event.
It's not too late to volunteer....
We have seen a few more people volunteer since we sent an alert to families, last week. Fortuitously we have also had a few alumni families make contact over the past few days, happy to share their time and skill as they hold fond memories of how beautiful and what fun this event can be.
Teachers and students are finalising work for display as the school will be on show on Saturday 20th August from 10.00am-3.00pm. Please spread the word to anyone you know who wants to experience who we are and what we do.
We remind you that Friday 19th is a pupil free day for all year groups
Some high school students may be in to assist with set up, and all staff and many parents will also be setting the school for the following Saturday’s events. Some senior students may be doing their drama group devised work also.
Celebrating our First Nations people and culture
We continued to celebrate NAIDOC week in Week 4. Across the primary and high school we commenced each day with music performed by Aboriginal artists. With thanks to Sarah Farrell Whelan for her fine collation of recordings, we heard from TIDDAS, Baker Boys, King Stingray, Mau Power with Archie Roach and Gold Energy. What a great way to start the day!
Bushy School with a NAIDOC theme- from Talulah Vane
Over the past two weeks our NAIDOC experience has woven the acknowledgement and celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements into our learning in many interesting ways.
This NAIDOC week opened and closed with student-led Acknowledgement of Country. The words of this statement have been a focus in classes across the school with students working to create their own meaningful statements of gratitude and respect.
Every Primary School class visited the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre's NAIDOC exhibition 'We Are Here', as well as seeing Korowal parent, Eddie Abd's exhibition 'killer tongue, i love you' and Into The Blue- the Blue Mountains World Heritage Interpretive Centre before heading to the Gully to explore the information trail at this special place. Thanks to Eddie, who was able to meet some classes at the Cultural Centre to talk about her inspiration and art making process - what a rich experience for our children to meet with the artist! It was lovely to hear the feedback from the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre that we "... have such delightful students and very dedicated and caring staff".
We started each school day with a song from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist over the loud speaker- the children guessed who the artist was and sang along when they knew the lyrics. In the classroom, children explored books written and/or illustrated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, supported by engaging resources provided by SBS learn. The 2022 NAIDOC theme of 'Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!' was the basis for our learning.
Our NAIDOC Bush School on Friday saw children move around our beautiful school grounds to experience a range of activities, many acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements. There was singing, choreographing dance moves with hand gestures that tell the story of a school day, weaving, nature journaling, STEM activities on the ‘makerspace’ bus and creating friendship bands in the colours of the Aboriginal flag, red, black and yellow.
One of the highlights of the day for many of the children (and adults) was the sausage sizzle! The funds raised by the sausage sizzle will go towards a bush school fund to help us add further equipment and experiences to future bush schools. Thanks very much for your support!
Bush School connects our community in such rich ways with children having leadership experience and with all students working with all teachers throughout the day. It was so, so great to have parent volunteers working with us on Friday. Big thanks to Inez for helping with nature journaling, Carmo for friendship bracelet assistance, Palona for bringing her weaving skills to our pandanus sculptures and David and Gini for smashing out the perfect BBQ! It is wonderful to have you back on board and to share these special experiences. (And don't worry if you missed out, Open Day is just around the corner!)
Thanks to Karen for her organisation of NAIDOC activities and Bush School. – Talulah Vane
Thanks also to all of our teachers and students for bringing such joy, and so much of themselves to the activities.
On Friday, Korowal learners from Years 4-10 joined Brendon from Wheelchair Sports to learn about living with disabilities and to play wheelchair basketball. Brendon shared his experiences students who were really engaged with his message and also had a great time together. Our young people were completely engaged and challenged by this complex sport. Brendan will be returning later this year for classes that were unable to attend this time around.
We have grieved missing out on opportunities to gather, to laugh & eat fine food & chat, to reflect on what a great school and community we have. If you had overlooked the date, or if the significance of this event was not on your radar, I encourage you to rethink next Saturday. Let our individual contributions make a world of difference to each other as we build our community spirit.
Week 3, Term 3, 2022
On Thursday afternoon of Week 3, tired and satisfied by their experiences, Year 6 and their teacher/guides arrived home from Canberra.
As Elise summarised:
“Year 6 has arrived back from their adventure and activity-filled trip to Canberra! We had so much fun exploring the National Zoo & Aquarium, The War Memorial, Parliament House, the National Museum and QUESTACON!
We were fortunate enough to be invited into Parliamentary question time where we saw Prime Minister Anthony Albanese discussing environmental issues and future goals with the opposition, this was an incredibly eye-opening and exciting experience. The students were lost for words saying "WOW! It's the Prime Minister in real life!
Questacon was (no surprise here) an all-around favourite! The students were playing, exploring and experimenting with the activities in each of the eight rooms, building mini space ships out of paper cups to see who could get the highest. They then finalised their Questacon tour relaxing underneath Mars.
Our trip to the zoo was equally as exciting and wonderful. The students got to go on an Endangered Species Tour, being invited to touch, feed and hold some of the animals within the zoo and aquarium.
The manners and kindness of our students were commented on frequently at many of the places we went. My heart is so full knowing we have such outgoing and compassionate young leaders in Year 6.
This camp was such a wonderful bonding experience and I am so grateful to have gone with them”.
As we are to have you Elise, Rick and Robyn! Thanks for providing the support to make it all happen. Also, to Caroline, our camp organiser!
NAIDOC CELEBRATIONS- Get up! Stand Up! Show Up!
This year this is a call to everyone, in recognition of our First Nations People.
As NAIDOC week fell in the July school holidays, we celebrate NAIDOC over weeks 3 and 4 of this term. This week, our Year 8 students and Kizz brought focus to expressing their own Acknowledgement of Country, and we have been using two of these in our morning meetings this past week.
In Primary, our way of showing up was to attend the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre for the exhibition ‘We Are Here’ and to participate in workshops. The Walnamarra Artists & Friends Group and the Painting Up Country TAFE Group exhibited the works that they created through the exploration of the NAIDOC theme for 2022. Our students heard stories of the artworks and were inspired to create their own artworks in small groups. On the days when weather permitted, they then walked to The Gully Aboriginal Place in Katoomba. By all accounts, it was a wonderful experience for the children and adults alike.
We will be continuing our celebrations throughout week 4 with NAIDOC Week, and then Bush School on Friday.
Open Day & Fair
We are in the final countdown as the 20th August is approaching rapidly. The buzz continues and we still have opportunities for people to put their hands up and assist. I have heard whisper that Dan will bring along his steam train for kiddy rides again, that there will be a fairy walk and so much more!
Our Pathways Drama, Multimedia and Visual Arts students are nearing completion of their projects to be submitted to NESA over the coming weeks. Our thoughts are with you and your teachers as you refine your projects for completion. The creativity is bouncing off the walls amidst tears of frustration and delight.
Year 6 into Year 7 Experience
Students in Year 6 will again have an experience in high school, with Year 7 tasters, on Tuesday morning in Week 4 as they get to know the staff and layout of our high school, and welcome their new classmates for 2023.
That’s all for now,
Week 2, Term 3, 2022
In Week 2 the primary cubbies are developing character and there was quite a buzz around as students and teachers prepare for their displays of work to be shared with the community on Open Day. There is music and song as well, echoing throughout the rooms as the children rehearse their primary play, to be performed later this term. A quick scan on Friday afternoon highlighted the amazing efforts being made to keep these events alive, including cocurricular activities to create signage, murals, and mathematical patterns.
In addition to this, all day at the front of the school parents worked on the weeding and creation of garden beds for our Food Forest, a new veggie garden being created by Ben Silverstone and friends to bring us closer to understanding how, where and when food is grown. Of course, we will all get to share the delightful produce! The profits generated by the Fair and Open Day will be used to purchase above-the-ground garden beds, meaning that we will see the immediate results for our efforts.
Friday was also the day that Stage 1 children celebrated their 100 days of school (for this year) by dressing as someone of 100 years of age or from 100 years ago. It was a delightful spectacle. They played games from 100 years ago, including hoop rolling, skipping and hopscotch.
Reading to Children
In the busyness of the day, we sometimes forget to stop and engage in simple pleasures and activities. Some of these, such as reading, have a profound impact on the development of language, cognitive functioning, inference and empathy in our children. Reading a picture book and discussing the images, imagining the feelings associated with the characters or events, predicting the possible options for the story’s development, all assist with the development of the child’s brain.
Numerous research studies have been undertaken on the significance that ‘being read to’ in childhood has on the developing child. A 2019 study lead by Assistant Professor of Educational Studies at the Ohio State University (Ehe.osu.edu), Jessica Logan, found that:
“The word gap of more than 1 million words between children raised in literacy-rich environments and those who were never read to, is striking”.
The results published found that:
“By the time that they were 5 years old, children who have been read to would have heard the following averages of words: Never read to, 4,662 words; 1-2 times per week, 63,570 words; 3-5 times per week, 169,520 words; daily, 296,660 words and 5 books per day, 1,483,300 words”.
Depending upon their exposure to language, the gap in vocabulary is huge. A further study titled “Reading to your children: A Head Start in Life” and published by education.vic.gov.au, summarises thus:
“The difference in reading and cognitive skills are not related to the child’s family background or home environment but are the direct result of how frequently they have been read to prior to starting school”.
It goes on to conclude that:
“Parental reading to children increases the child’s reading and other cognitive skills at least up to the age of 10–11. This is an early-life intervention that seems to be beneficial for the rest of their lives”.
It is worth creating the time together to enjoy the world of books, for the long-term impact is profound. We have a great library at school. You may recall that during remote learning our librarian, Maria, created and an online catalogue available to parents. Maria is passionate about encouraging children to read, and to be read to.
As we work and play both indoors and outdoors in fine weather, we will fill our page with photos this week of enticing visuals of marvellous things to come.
Week 1, Term 3, 2022
With the return of our students in Week 1 of Term 3 came energy and laughter, enough to fill the grey days with joy. This term, across the school we welcome five new families to Korowal. We are looking forward to showcasing our students’ and teachers’ work and play with you all at our Open Day and Fair, and preparations have begun for this to become a comprehensive celebration. We have families and staff who have been at the school for three years and never had the opportunity to attend an Open Day!
As we plan, we will ensure that we have an open flow of air and as many outdoor events as possible. Caroline Flack is our organiser and has created a committee of interested parents, so please contact her if you have missed the call for support. Again, because there has not been a fair for three years, many of our stalwart families have graduated from the School, and with them has gone the deep understanding of our processes. It is a time of renewal! Please volunteer to help with set up, running an event, pack up, cooking and a myriad of tasks that will help make the day.
It's the little things that keep us bright
There is great pleasure attained in working with children, who live totally in the moment and show immediate exuberance or bewilderment, but are honest in their responses and infuse us all with immediacy and happiness.
This Sunday, the sun is shining and the outdoors is calling us. I am reminded of the great collection of tales by A.A. Milne, “When We Were Very Young”.
When the sun
Shines through the leaves of the apple tree
When the sun
Makes shadows of the leaves of the apple-tree
Then I pass
On the grass
From one leaf to its brother
Here I go!
May we take a leaf out of their books and live in the present moment as much as possible. Let’s notice the sun, notice the chill in the air, notice each other and send a smile across the way.
Week 8, Term 2, 2022
In Week 8 we have seen many staff off with flu and/or COVID. This has been one of the most significant weeks of staff illness for us since the onset of Covid, for the cumulative effect of the past few years has taken its toll. All of our office administration staff, our troopers, have gone down. Two members of our small exec team, Barb and Bec, have also been unwell. On Friday we had three quarters of our primary staff out as well as a few high school staff. We are extremely fortunate that in the main we have been able to replace staff with great relief teachers and relief office staff, and the student learning programs continue to be delivered with joy and professionalism. As the media have been reporting, there is a shortage of relief staff and schools are needing to combine classes throughout the state. Thankfully that was not the case for us for most of this past week. We were even able to run Bush School on Friday due to the calibre of our relief teachers, and while Talulah may have been inundated with questions to the point of decision fatigue, the children had a great day.
Illness is the reason behind our Trivia Night being postponed from Friday evening to the new date of August 5th. Deb, Caroline, Sarah and their supportive team of parents made the difficult decision to call this, and while being bitterly disappointed at postponing such a joyous occasion with parents and friends, we fully support the decision. For the same reason we have held information sessions for Years 7 and 11 online, and will conduct high school student/ parent/staff meetings as online events. While we are close to the finish line we have a week before holidays, and we are valiantly attempting to stay well and keep our students well until the office closes on Friday 24th. That said, some Pathways classes and workshops will continue to run in the first week of the break.
The addition of a sudden onset of bitterly cold weather, the number of colds and flus about as well as recurrent bouts of COVID-19 are all impacting schools throughout the country. This has prompted Dr Kerry Chant to remind us all to maintain the hygienic practices of hand washing, coughing into sleeves, and avoiding attending workplaces and schools if we are unwell. We extend our thanks to you all for doing just that, and keeping your children home when they are unwell, as well as for your understanding and support during these circumstances beyond our control.
Reflections from Talulah.
It was a spectacular Mountains winter day on Friday for Bush School- the sun shone and the air was still and soft. Bush School is much more than a day of outdoor activities, it always feels like a culmination of so many of the layers of our learning at Korowal- connection, wonder, creativity, kindness, community, respect and joy.
We are very lucky to have a team of strong and aligned casual teachers who offered their own creative take on our Bush School themes of respectful relationships with nature and each other. Emma worked with the children on Andy Goldsworthy inspired sculptures, using nothing but the natural materials at hand- sand, leaves, sticks and rocks. Emma-Joy created a percussion circle nestled in the bush above the meadow. The children created narrative-based soundscapes about going on a bush walk using a range of instruments. Georgina brought her experience as a dance teacher to the space beneath the three pine trees, where the children learned some traditional Australian bush dances. Rose worked with the children to notice the mico-details of their playground and garden beds on a scavenger hunt. This activity provided a lovely moment of quiet, independent reflection for those who desired it, and collaborative exploration for others. Ian had worked with year 6 throughout the week on some slow and meditative martial arts, preparing them to be guides to the younger children for Bush School. Ian discussed 'Balance and Control, Honour and Peace, Forgiveness and Honesty' being explored in this practice.
A highlight for many of the children I spoke to was the warm apple cider prepared by fabulous volunteer parent, Lucie. The smell of cinnamon, cloves and apples was almost as warming as the cider itself. One Year 3 child described the day as "a time when we're still learning, but it feels different because we're in nature all day and so we learn and think in other ways".
Thank-you to our students, staff, casual staff and parent volunteers for making this a special and successful Bush School. Many thanks to you all for your support and communication over the term. Wishing you a wonderful break from the routines of the term.
We farewell Alex Smithers
In this final week of Term 2 week we will farewell Alex Smithers, a significant member of the staff at Korowal. Alex has been the glue that had held the buildings and facilities together for some time now. Having been a science teacher and currently also a published writer, Alex came to work for us as both a lab assistant and maintenance person. At the onset the extent of Alex’s skills was not quite known to us, but over time we have been dumbfounded by her capacity. I don’t believe that Alex has ever been stymied by a problem, be it in drainage, construction, or resourcing. Alex has resolved roofing plumbing issues that the plumbers put in the too hard basket! She is a master at invention and repurposing. She is worth her weight in gold.
Being self-effacing by nature, you may have seen but not heard from Alex. She leaves us to go north to the warmth and sunshine. We will miss you, Alex. Thank you for gifting us with your cleverness and skills, as well as your beautiful smile.
We farewell Bec Finch
At the end of Week 9, Bec Finch leaves us to take up her Principalship at a Steiner Primary School in Northern New South Wales. This is a great accolade for Bec, and a promotion which I am sure you will all agree, is well deserving. Bec has been at Korowal for close to eleven years. During that time Bec has been a primary teacher, then Primary Coordinator, then Deputy Principal and high school Maths teacher. Within each new challenge, Bec has mastered the position. She stepped into the role of deputy and needed to learn how to manage the high school, a very different beast from the primary school, yet she did so with aplomb. Add to this the challenges we all faced in responding to COVID and recreating models for primary and high and you may get a glimpse into the exceptions that Bec has confronted, as well as the leadership demonstrated. Due to her diligence, intelligence, and authenticity Bec has always received respect and trust from staff, students and parents. Under her guidance and management, the school has continued to thrive, refine new systems and keeping our values and culture alive.
Sadly, Bec has contracted COVID and will be out for the coming final week! This is unfortunate news for Bec and all of us. We were hoping to have parents stop by at Cuppa Under the Tree to say farewell, and we have planned a whole school assembly for Friday where the students and staff can bring our energy and focus together to wish Bec and Alex the very best of everything, and express our gratitude for all that we have received. We are still optimistic that this can go ahead and that we can zoom Bec into the assembly.
Bec, we will miss you dearly and on behalf of our entire community, THANKYOU for your open, warm, friendly and professional presence. All the best to you on your new adventure. We know you will rock it!
K_6 Disco this coming Thursday afternoon
Primary School are continuing the celebratory spirit with a K-6 Disco on Thursday after school. Please ensure you have sent in your child's permission note and paid the $10. It is going to be extremely fun!
High School Student / Parent / Teacher interviews
This is a reminder that are being held over the coming week.
This is a long post……., so congratulations on getting to the end!
Have a great last week of term,
Week 9, Term 2, 2022
The term has now ended for Kindy to Year 10, with senior workshops running throughout this coming week. On our final days we enjoyed celebrating and expressing gratitude. Bec and Alex, still recovering, zoomed into our gratitude assembly. Primary sang them out, with Stage 3 students presenting ‘The Sunny Side of The Street’ directly to the whole school and zoom camera. As we expressed last week, they take our love and thanks with them as they embark on another journey.
Thank you all for your support throughout this term which certainly brought many surprises, the greatest of all being staff illnesses. Our collegial support of each other through the challenges, and the understanding received from our parent and student community, is worthy of note. We now have time to recover, to
retrospectively address matters that are outstanding, and to plan for the term ahead and the arrival of our new Deputy Principal, Cindy Barnsley, on July 12th. The cycle of our School’s life continues as we sadly farewell some and joyously welcome others. As we discussed with the students in the assembly, releasing and allowing for change is all part of life’s cycle and is to be embraced rather than feared.
Primary School disco
Primary students raised the roof at their Disco on Thursday afternoon. Such joy, laughter and singing we have not seen… for far too long. Thank you to those parents who assisted with BBQ and cleanup. It is excellent that we are again opening up to social events. Next term we will come together for our Trivia Night on August 5th and our Fair and Open day on August 20th. It has been years since we have celebrated as a community and we are excited at what is to come, so please put these dates into your calendars.
The holiday period
Students returns for Term 3 on Tuesday 19th July. In the meanwhile, the office will be closed and painting will be undertaken, so please email us if you need to make contact. Enquiries for enrolment can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org over this time.
May you stay well and warm, and enjoy time together over the break. It is beautiful bush walking weather. We did suggest to our students that they put their computers away for a while and play board games and chat. Good luck with that!
Week 7, Term 2, 2022
Primary School held Mid-Year Interviews over the past two weeks. This always feels like a significant time in our school year as the teachers reflect upon the social-emotional, academic and creative development and attributes of each and every child, and share this with their parents and carers. It’s a meaningful and important undertaking.
Teachers have time off class in preparation for these meetings to work individually with each child in their class to assess their learning in a variety of non-comparative and engaging ways. This year we began to add the children’s voice more directly into our Mid-Year Interviews, in alignment with our Oracy and Open Dialogue work. There was a sequential approach with younger grades identifying work they liked or found challenging for the teacher to share with families through to Years 4-6 being offered the opportunity to join the meeting with their parents. One child reflected that although it felt “awkward” at the start, as they’d not attended their interview in previous years, it was “really good to be able to show my parents how I felt and what I thought while I was doing certain bits of my work”. They expressed that it made them feel important in their learning, and included in what they are working towards.
Mid-Year Interviews are also a valuable opportunity for parents and carers to get a stronger sense of the child’s teacher and to share their own observations, queries, concerns and joys. There have been regular bouts of laughter ringing through the hallways, as well as deep, intense talk as we share the rich experiences of an individual’s learning. One thing that has been fed back to me time and time again is how much parents feel that our teachers know their child.
All of this connects right back to the essential value of relationships in the way we work at Korowal. We move forward from this mid-year moment holding our shared conversation for each child at the heart of our learning, growing and communicating.
Primary School Coordinator
Year 8 Geography
Open Day & Fair
It’s exciting to be planning for our 2022 Open Day and Fair after we were not able to proceed in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. The new date is Saturday 20th August 2022.
Open Day is a multipurpose event that showcases our beautiful school in many facets. We have the opportunity to once again build community through the combined efforts and experiences of students, staff and families. Students have the opportunity to showcase their work, classrooms and outdoor spaces while we offer a rich window of our school to the wider community. The day is also a fundraiser and provides an opportunity to raise money for the school.
Thank you to the small group of parents who have put their hands up to form an organising committee and for those who have already reached out to volunteer in specific areas. We will be holding a meeting on Tuesday 21st June at 5.30pm for the organising committee. We will hold the meeting online via Zoom. It’s not too late to let Caroline know if you are able to volunteer on the committee. We would love to hear from you!!!
There will be increased communication coming through as Open Day approaches however there are areas of need that we can highlight now. Can you help by:
- Being an Activity Coordinator: coordinate a class group to run an activity on the day
- Catering: coordinate or assist in cooking, serving and baking goods. BBQ, Café in G1 and Soups/Curries from the Canteen
- Craft : using your creative talents to make things for us to sell at our craft stall
- Raffle Donations
- Setup, Packup, Decorations & Bunting
- Poster & Marketing distribution
End of Term Events
- Wednesday 15th June
Cuppa Under the Tree – Last one for the term!
Primary School Tour – Let your friends and family know! Responsible Pet Ownership Visit – K, 1, 2
Year 11, 2023 Information Session @ 5pm – Zoom link on Skoolbag.
- Friday 17th June
Primary School Bush School Trivia Fundraising Night
- Monday 20th June
Year 9 & 10 Macbeth Incursion
Stage 4 (Yrs 7 & 8) Parent Teacher Interviews
- Tuesday 21st June
Year 12 Fundraiser: K-12 Pyjama Day – More info to come out via Skoolbag this week.
- Wednesday 22nd June
High School Tour - Let your friends and family know! Stage 5 (Yrs 9 & 10) Parent Teacher Interviews
- Thursday 23rd June
Primary School Disco
- Friday 24th June
Last day of Term 2
Week 5, Term 2, 2022
We have a guest writer this week. Thank you for sharing your perspective with us all Caroline.
Can you hear what I hear?
As the halfway point of term approaches, the staff of Korowal are deep into the routines, structures and learnings of Term 2. The busyness sweeps the school for everyone, students, staff and parents and at times there is nothing more to say, we are a school, the students are the heart and learning is the focus. With Barb returning from Sabbatical, the priorities are many and sometimes the window with the largest view gets placed on the backburner.
I’d love to take the opportunity for so many who have not had the recent opportunity to walk the hallways of Korowal in recent times and ask, ‘Can you hear what I hear?’
The movement in the morning begins in the library, the early morning arriving primary students are bouncing with energy playing games, reading books and drawing pictures while they wait for the primary playground to open before school starts. In contrast, our Pathways students are moving a little slower signing in and making their way to class, sometimes breakfast is being consumed along the way and when greeting them for the morning, the reply is often “I’m so tired”. The phones in the office start ringing and movement in the staffroom becomes louder. The primary students following instructions to the primary playground are followed by the sound of cars in the turning circle and buses accelerating up the hill. The noise of voices, laughter, sometimes grunts and occasional squeals echo across the school.
In the office, the sign that school has started is reflected by the front door opening and the request ‘Can I have a late note’ is on repeat. A walk through the school will see you watching Morning Meetings which are on a spectrum from perfect circles and spacing in junior primary to staggered, cluttered gathering in a sort of shape in high school. The movement into morning walks and circles for Primary Students to Period 1 classes for high school has come and gone in the blink of an eye (or so it seems) and the learning has begun. Both the Primary and High School hubs are in business, the sounds of direction and instruction are underway and the hallways are once again returned to echo’s of learning activities.
In Primary, I can hear Kindy singing phonics “Inky the mouse is my pet, she spilled the ink and got wet” followed by Year 1 “sound it out, b i g – what is the word”. There is silence from Year 2, the room is empty, they are in Japanese “kon’nichiwa sensei”. I can hear Year 3 & 4, they are together playing the recorder, the sound of tables and chairs being knocked and murmuring from the students in Year 5 is followed by “Get your focus study book and sit at your desk”………I can hear chalk on the chalk board in Year 6, “today we are learning about dot plots”.
The noise amplifies, there is a primary class moving to the library, it’s huff and puff get your shoes on, the running patter of feet and a clang!, I can see students taking the lunch order box
to the canteen. The sound is getting louder…. “We need an icepack”, “I forgot Sip and Crunch, can I have an apple” or “I can’t remember how I’m getting home”
The high school is quiet… There are instructions from G1, Maria is helping a student with a
book in the library, the photocopier is humming, the library door shuts from foot traffic over and over. I can hear basketballs bouncing from the back library door, Kelly’s voice echo’s from the hall “relax and let your body move freely”. There are voices in the Drama Space - Pathways students are studying in small groups and Barb’s voice echo’s from G4, ”the clip we are going to look at……”. There is music, the music room door is open, I can see groups of students working together. The sound of the Bunsen burner echos in my ear, Science experiments, what are they burning today? The basketball is louder, Kizz has music playing for PE, I hear puffing and deep breathing – they are active! There is more music…… it’s coming from the Pathways Common Room, why am I not surprised!
High School Locker doors slam, the library bell rings – the break is over, the hallways begin to rumble, staff leave the staffroom, the noises are abundant with running, “WALK IN THE CORRIDORS!”, questions, explanations, giggles, instructions, doors opening, the hallway sink taps on and off while students wash their hands, shoes off, lunchboxes on hooks and again silence, then instruction, the clatter of chairs and tables, musical instruments, singing, quiet. Kindy are lights out and resting, the slower pace of the afternoon kicks in and the calm before going home time will not last!
The phones are ringing, sickbay revolves, the buses start up, primary classes walk together (see the spectrum again, well done Kindy) from primary across the grass, in front of the office and to the grassed area at the turning circle. There is no running, they are slow, their hands are full, they are finished for today, they play until their transport home arrives, the squeals of delight ring through the window with the choice of afternoon game on the grass waiting for the bus. High School students emerge, the high school bus bell rings across the front of the school and the sounds of enthusiasm from high school feet emerge swiftly, the school day is over.
The sounds cease, the phones stop, the movement in the staffroom is gone, lights go out, windows are closed and tomorrow we start again.
It’s a privilege to be part of the learning journey of our students!
Week 6, Term 2, 2022
In Week 6 Primary celebrated Reconciliation Week by immersing ourselves in literature and sharing stories. Maria spent her time with many primary classes reading two books: 'Found' by Bruce Pascoe and 'Sorry Day' by Coral Vass. As Maria explained to the classes:
“It is a sensitive topic to discuss with children, however these two books tell the story in a way that is understandable and, yes, sad, but also told with great hope for the future through days such as this, (Sorry Day,) of never forgetting, but always striving for a better future for our First Nations People… Years 4 and 5 also learnt about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and discussed the promised referendum that Australia will hold to include First Nations voices in our Constitution. I was impressed by all the students' passion about this topic”. Maria
Years 5 & 6 exercise their Oracy Skills
As Elise, Andy and Years 5&6 immerse in their Focus Study topic of ‘Natural Disaster’, the children have been actively researching, investigating and writing a report on a chosen area within the topic area. As Elise explains:
“It was the job of each group to become the 'experts' of a chosen disaster and create a written report. From here, the students spent 2 lessons putting their Oracy knowledge into practice using the Jigsaw Method. When we were finished, each student had a solid understanding of four Natural Disasters. They then worked really hard over 3 Focus Study Lessons to put their information into beautifully presented infographics”.
They are all extremely proud of both the processes and their final creations. Having commenced the study with energy and reservation they have conquered their reluctance to demonstrate remarkably sophisticated understandings of the power of nature.
Year 6 students experience high school
On Friday, our Year 6 students stepped into new territory as they crossed the courtyard into the classrooms and passageways of our high school. This was their first taster of what it is like to attend high school. We also welcomed students from other schools who will be joining our Year 6 students for Year 7 in 2023. Our high school teachers provided experiences or mini-classes in English, Maths, Science and Art and the feedback was that ‘high school is awesome!’
We will be running further experiences throughout the year- one next term, then a full day in Term 4. The beauty of having our primary and high connected on the one campus is that Year 6 can now chat comfortably with teachers when they see them on the playground, as they have begun to connect and develop relationships this year. In our experience this eases the transition between the two, and hopefully prepares the students in a supportive way.
Know the impact of vaping
You may have read in the Sunday Herald that a student from a local high school “collapsed and had a seizure in the school toilets while vaping… The student was otherwise healthy.” On Friday last week the panel of ABC’s ‘The Drum’ engaged in discussion about Vaping, again because there is much concern about the health impacts of the use of nicotine e-cigarettes, especially amongst young people.
I am sharing these resources with you as so that we all remain informed and supportive. A review of the evidence on the health impacts of e-cigarettes or ‘vapes’, conducted for the Australian Government by Australian National University, has found that “use of nicotine e-cigarettes increases the risk of a range of adverse health outcomes, particularly in youth, including taking up smoking, addiction, poisoning, seizures, trauma and burns and lung injury” .
Young non-smokers who vape are around three times as likely to take up smoking than non-vapers. In The Conversation, academics have noted that vaping releases airborne particles in indoor environments that are potentially harmful to non-users.
At a meeting of Principals which I attended last Monday, this was a topic of great concern. Unlike cigarettes, vaping does not have a lingering scent, but rather a momentary sweet scent that evaporates quickly. We are aware that students in our high school are engaging in vaping and we have been educating around the health impacts of such. We have also contacted parents where we believe there are such concerns for their child. While this concern remains active, we have increased educational awareness and supervision. We are extremely concerned that the people engaging in vaping have a naivety of the potential harm this may be causing them.
At Korowal our educational approach to the use or abuse of substances is towards understanding the impact of use. Rather than bury our heads in the sand, we need to be fully informed of the impact of usage. In addition to having potential health impacts, vaping is illegal for minors, as is the smoking of cigarettes, and there are consequences attached to engaging in any illegal activities. These are particularly harsh if a student is supplying them to others.
We encourage you to be active in helping your child to understand this, and in sharing health information as it becomes available. Through engaging in open and supportive conversation with our young adult children we can work through this together. If you have a concern, please make contact with us. It is our preference that we are all proactive, rather than needing to reactively apply our Discipline Policy and Procedures.
The safety of those in our care is always our driving concern. It takes a village to raise a child!
Week 3, Term 2, 2022
It was great to be back at school in Week 3 of Term 2. I extend my sincere thanks to Bec Finch for stepping across into my role for the duration of my Sabbatical. Bec has done a sterling job. I also thank Jason Eddie for moving into the Acting Deputy role, and our whole staff for their tremendous support of each other, and the students. As I knew the school was in great hands, with such competent people at the helm, I was able to release that responsibility and enjoy time reflecting on our history as a small independent school in the Blue Mountains, the highs and lows, the challenges and successes.
On my return, many things remained unchanged and others were significantly different. My office has moved into the middle of the administration block, with an attached office for my assistant, Annie Tucker. We welcomed Annie to the role of Executive Assistant last week and already she is immersed in the business of our beautiful school. Please make her welcome if you come across Annie.
Sadly, we farewelled Jes Somerville as my assistant last Thursday. Jes has been a key player in all that we have achieved strategically and systemically over the past five years. Her heart, warmth, and creativity have been such an asset to me personally, and to the school. We thank you for your beauty and care Jes, and while you may not be alongside me as my assistant, we look forward to our ongoing connection as you continue with our School marketing.
Nathaniel attended the Futsal gala day and sent through this summary of Friday’s events:
“Year three and four enjoyed a high energy futsal gala day. With crowds roaring and many schools attending, the atmosphere was electric. Year three fielded a mixed team in the under 9 boys comp, keeping steady pressure on their opponents, and big grins for every match.
The Year four boys’ team had a strong showing with lots of long runs up and down the court and shots on goal. Big celebrations happened when they found the back of the net! The year four girls had a huge turnout with enough to field two teams. Each game was played half one team and half the other with lots of hi-fives. They were also the best cheerleaders of the day, supporting not only Korowal’s teams but others as well!” Nate
It is so good to attend theatre again! Pathways Drama students presented their group devised piece of theatre “Where do I go when I Dream” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It was a powerful piece of drama, with fine production elements of movement, music and imagery woven throughout. The students and Kelly are to be congratulated for their imaginative work, their discipline and creativity. It was well supported by Carlie and her elective music students, Jason and students as tech assistants, and the audiences who spoke very highly of the production. Thank you all for entertaining us!
Some resources for you/your child
From time to time we hear of students feeling a lingering tiredness, sometimes a bit low in spirits. Should you be looking for any further supports at such times, here is a reminder that the following support services are always available. They are potentially free, anonymous and confidential sources of support for your children include: • Kids Helpline (1800 551 800 or www.kidshelp.com.au) • Lifeline (131 114 or www.lifeline.org.au) • headspace (1800 650 890 or eheadspace.org.au)The State Mental Health Telephone Access Line (1800 011 511) which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is staffed by clinicians who can provide advice, make referrals and link callers to the mental health service in their Local Health District.
You can also always contact our school counsellor, Sarah Farrell Whelan, on (02) 4758 -7466 for further information or if you have any concerns about your child/young adult.
Now we get to enjoy the autumn sun this coming week. What a treat! The maple tree is sporting a rich burnt sienna aura. Well worth a viewing.
Week 4, Term 2, 2022
In Week 4 we enjoyed sitting outdoors, crunching through the autumn leaves and looking up at the clear blue mountains sky. How fortunate are we to live and work in the Blueys?
Last week, Year 8 attended their Outward Bound camp and experienced great challenges, both owing to the wet and cold weather, and also to the physical challenges within the program. There were many last-minute changes to staffing due to COVID, and we extend our thanks to Mark Thomas, Col Robertson, Kizz Boyd and Nicola McNabb for enthusiastically supporting the adventure and ensuring that the students did get to go, despite the interruptions. Bravo to our students also for getting in and mucking about!
Here is a summary from a Year 8 student, Angie Cadogan:
"One the highlights of the camp was setting up the bivvies because it meant that we were self reliant. I also enjoyed sitting around the campfire and cooking our own food. However, there were many challenges such as setting up camp in the rain and at times we all got a bit wet and uncomfortable. For example, some of our stuff got wet and our shoes got absolutely soaked after we had to walk through a small river. When we got back from camping in the National Park we had to wait in our wet clothes. I did learn to appreciate a lot of things we take for granted over the course of the camp such as warm dry clothes, a comfortable place to sleep and a good food supply that you don’t have to ration out with other people. I also learnt a lot about teamwork and just working hard in general. I learnt to be more self reliant and to take responsibility for my actions".
This week we held the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Korowal School. At the AGM the Chair of the Board and Principal presented their reports on 2021, and the Financial report for 2021 was also accepted. The Directors- Louise Dungate, Chris Lee, Greg Lucas, David Taylor and David Wright continue as directors of the Board for 2022. We farewelled Fionna Russo and extend our thanks for her care and contribution to governance throughout 2021. We welcomed two new directors, Karen Arkley-Smith and Andy O’Doherty to the Board. Chris has again been elected as Chair of the Korowal School Board.
The Chair and Principal’s reports will be emailed to families over the coming week. If you are interested in learning more about the Board and the importance of sound governance, or if you have skills to bring to governance, please contact Chris Lee at email@example.com
On Friday I shared my day with a current Deputy Principal of a Sydney Independent school, as part of her participation in the Flagship Program. Jen shadowed me throughout meetings and conversations, learning about our ways and our school. It is always a joyous thing to share our values, priorities, community, C.A.R.E educational model, and to hear back on what the visitor’s fresh eyes illuminate for us. In this instance, it reinforced that our education program and student-centred initiatives are unique, and the further we embed these practices the more original we become across all aspects of the school. We are going from strength to strength!
Pathways Student / Parent / Teacher Evening
A reminder that the Pathways Parent/ Teacher Meetings will be held on Wednesday afternoon/evening. Please be sure to book your time and engage in conversation with your young adult (child) and the teachers.
A special thanks to the staff who attended our Introductory tours on Saturday. These were held for interested and /or prospective families. If you have friends who are thinking about coming to Korowal for Year 11 or Year 7, it is particularly important that we begin the conversations now.
Thank you for continuing to keep us informed of close contacts or Covid cases, and for coming to pick up students when called from sick bay, as we keep our community as healthy as we can.
I hope you have a lighter heart as we enter this week, Week 5. If you want to stop for a cuppa on Wednesday morning you are most welcome. It was a bit lonely this week!
Week 2, Term 2, 2022
Winning is something, but participation is everything
— Debasish Mridha
Primary Swimming Carnival
Two days into this term, we held the Primary Swimming Carnival for Years 3 to 6. This was a reschedule from Term 1 and a joy for all those who participated - and participation was the focus! I heard from the Primary teachers that it was another well organised and managed event by Kizz, and another shining example of inclusion in practice. While students had a chance to compete there was equal focus on participation, effort and peer support.
Futsal Gala Day
Similarly, some of our Primary students represented Korowal at the Mountains Futsal Gala Day on Friday and were very vocal in their support of each other just getting in there and having a go. I received a call from someone at the Gala Day and could only hear “Let’s go Korowal, let’s go!” echoing through the phone.
Sydney School of Entrepreneurship
Year 9 and 10 students have been given a chance to participate in the Discovery Program
through the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) based at Ultimo TAFE. Students have spent a day at SSE learning about entrepreneurship and innovation, brainstorming problems that they will use to work towards a solution. The Discovery Program will be the Co-curricular activity for these students for 6 weeks of this term.
It is not always easy for young people to take up new opportunities. It takes courage and effort to make choices for themselves and push outside their comfort zones.
A delayed acknowledgement for Darcy Hollingworth from Year 10, who competed in swimming events at the Association of Co-Educational Schools (AICES) competition on Monday 28th March. Darcy came third in two events and is through to the Combined Independent Schools (CIS) State competition in 50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke, and 50m backstroke.
Darcy is to be acknowledged for her swimming talent and her social courage in attending these events as a solo swimmer from our school (other schools send whole teams). Darcy's parents do the driving and supporting, and largely do their own admin for these events. I do very little, as Darcy is so independent and driven with her swimming goals.
Year 10 Science Project
Year 10 students have been busy with a number of assessment tasks, including a significant Science Project culminating in poster presentations last week. Stage 3, 4 & 5 students were invited to attend the Science Fair and hear about the students’ scientific process and outcomes. Fabulous to see the students’ developing Oracy skills put into action.
Pathways Drama Production
The Pathways Drama students have been working on their production “Where do we go when we dream” and have had to postpone due to cases of Covid. We are looking forward to seeing the production this week with new show dates of Friday 13th May and Saturday 14th May.
Welcome & Farewell
And we are looking forward to welcoming Barb back to school this week after her sabbatical.
There will be some staff changes this term, particularly as we say goodbye to Lisa Taylor at the end of Week 4. We share congratulations to Lisa as she has successfully gained a new work opportunity, and feel the loss for Korowal. Lisa is a strong advocate for student participation through learning support. We will miss Lisa and all the care and commitment she brings to her role in supporting students and teachers.
If you would like to wish Lisa well, please join us for a Cuppa in the Courtyard (just past the office) at 9:15am Wednesday 18th May.
Week 10, Term 1, 2022
We have come to the end of our first term with great energy and effort. The space to breathe for a moment over these April holidays is gratefully received by all staff and students, and well deserved for their teaching, learning and adaptability over the term.
It was a term that necessitated ongoing communication and communal effort to keep the school functioning. We had moments of great illness and staff shortages, but never a need to close – thanks to parents and carers for looking after unwell or isolating students, and thanks to the flexibility and extra effort from all staff.
The people in the Korowal School community are wonderful, thoughtful and active participants. I always appreciate the questions, conversations and the ongoing problem-solving required to work at this school. I know this is also appreciated by many of you and you are often asking how you can get more involved. I’d like to offer two great opportunities for you to work closer with and for the school – the Korowal School Board, and the Open Day/Fair.
Korowal School Board
The Korowal School Board is the governing body of the school. The Directors of the School Board are elected every two years and compose of both parents and teachers – encouraging a constructive partnership. You are encouraged to take an active interest in school governance through voting or nominating for election to the School Board.
Nominations for a position on the Korowal School Board are open. A notice regarding voting and nominations for the Board was sent via SkoolBag on April 6th. The Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 18th May at 5pm.
Open Day & Fair
The Open Day/Fair has been on our school calendar for Saturday 27th August this year, however we have since learnt that the Winter Magic Festival has been placed on that weekend, so we are bringing our Open Day forward to Saturday 20th August. Please put this date in your calendars!
We will be commencing Open Day preparations with interested parents, carers, family members and friends very early in Term 2. Look out for the first Open Day meeting to discuss ideas and be part of this very exciting day!
As we settle into the two week break, I share with you a significant school improvement project happening this week. We are getting a much-needed replacement of the Administration Building roof! It is so lovely to see the sun shining on the school!
Wishing you a warm, healthy and restful break.
Week 9, Term 1, 2022
The Primary school hallway on Friday afternoon is emblematic of how we all feel at the end of a big school week. Teachers tend to go a little gentler on work expectations and use the time to finish up tasks or units. I took some photos across the school to share with you.
Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2) students were finishing work and calming reading/drawing.
Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4) were chatting about their Ten Pin bowling excursion.
From Karen: Last Thursday, Stage two enjoyed a day of learning and fun while Tenpin bowling and linked their learning with forces of friction, gravity, and momentum. Afterwards we enjoyed a picnic lunch then further scientific enquiry on the flying fox and play equipment at Tench Park, testing the forces of friction and momentum.
Stage 3 (Years 5 & 6) had a moment of appreciation, sharing cards with each other and playing games:
Stage 4 (Years 7 & 8) have Co-curric on a Friday afternoon and took it easy with a shared movie in the Drama space:
Stage 5 (Years 9 & 10) have English to finish off their week, and Derek had prepared a quiz about Shakespeare that they were enjoying when I stepped in:
Pathways students were in Studies of Religion and Maths classes, but I was only able to catch the Multimedia class hard at work.
On Friday 1st of April, our students in Years 7,8,9,10 met Nevo Zisin via a Zoom workshop, as part of our high school PDHPE program. Nevo Zisin (they/them) is a queer, non-binary, Jewish writer, performer, activist and public speaker. Nevo is also author of award-winning Finding Nevo (2017), a memoir on gender transition and The Pronoun Lowdown (2021) a useful guidebook on all things related to pronouns.
The workshop was a follow-up to a whole staff training our teachers did with Nevo at the end of 2021. Our students took an in-depth look into LGBTIAQ+ identities and gender stereotypes, with plenty of time for a Q and A. There were questions aplenty, and Nevo was wonderfully well received by our students. The workshop included:
Deep investigation into LGBTIQA+ terms and definitions
Research-based exploration of LGBTIQA+ mental health and barriers that exist within school
Dos and don’ts around inclusive language use
Pragmatic tips and tricks for supporting peers and being a great ally
Access to resources for further learning
We look forward to working with Nevo again soon. Kizz
I’m pleased that we were able to open classrooms to Primary parents and families last week.
From Talulah: This week Primary classroom doors were opened to families to come and see their children's schoolwork, see their learning environment and chat with the class teacher in our Open Classroom Afternoons. It was very special to see the children proudly present every page of their Focus Studies book, or explain the maths concepts they have been working on, or sing lyrics from the latest Morning Circle song to their families. There was confidence and competence in every interaction I saw as the children's oracy skills rose to the occasion. Hearing the encouragement and descriptive feedback from parents to their children was also wonderful- a direct loop of acknowledgement that our situation over the past two years has disrupted. I heard from parents that it was both enriching and relieving to get to touch base with their child at school and to be able to ask the questions of each other, and the teacher, that naturally flowed from being in that setting. The connectedness of the relationships is so important with the way we work at Korowal.
If you missed the Open Classroom last week, you can come along this week:
Monday 4th- Yr 4, Yr 5, Yr 6
Tuesday 5th- Yr 1, Yr 2
Wednesday 6th- Kindergarten, Year 3
As we start our last week of term, we are aware of a few staff illnesses that may impact staffing. We are grateful for our casual/relief staff that are able to step in, and the extra covers and flexibility from the staff still on deck. We have a few excursions and events this week and hope to end with lots of tired, smiling faces!
Week 8, Term 1, 2022
One afternoon this week, I had the pleasure of playing “red light - green light” with some Primary students waiting for the afternoon bus. It was a diverse range of age, experience, ability and personality in the group, and reflective of what we often experience at school.
The rules and objectives are simple: move towards the person “in”, standing with their back to the group, until they turn quickly saying “red light” and you freeze. If you move, you are sent back, if not you continue when they say “green light”. The first person to sneak up and tip the person wins (and is the next person in).
The game was a microcosm of the subtle changes we make as educators and group learners. The students changed the rules in kindness (just go three steps back), equality (everyone walk rather than run) and equity (older students start at the back). And the person “in” made choices of who they noticed had moved, and what constituted as movement. One young person just constantly declared that they saw everybody move, making us all go back every time and prolonging the amount of time they were “in”.
This is a small window of the joy and value of social learning at Korowal! It is the diversity of individuals, being aware of others, and working together to be inclusive. In that moment, I learnt a new game, and practised the skills needed to play. I learnt something about myself, something about all the participants, and I had fun!
Last week Year 7 had a whole lot of fun on their camp and Jason shares below his reflection of the students’ experience.
Year 7 Camp – from Jason
As everyone blinked sleep from their eyes to board the bus from school, a general ripple of trepidation and excitement burst forth through in a sing-a-long of Disney songs. The singing was that enthusiastic it took us all the way to the M2. We arrived at Fitzroy Falls to be met by our camp leaders and a short walk to the waterfalls. Although it was mostly mist that could be seen, the thunder of the falls revealed the volumes of water still coursing through waterways after the floods.
As soon as the students arrived at camp, they were whisked off on a lengthy bushwalk through the surrounding rainforest over log bridges and across shoe-sucking mud to arrive at the edge of a mountain where they would be abseiling. It quickly emerged that the activities would challenge the students and it was both surprising and impressive to see how many faced those challenges head-on.
The pace of the camp activities rarely diminished and the students continued to develop more resilience to the challenges with the support of their camp leaders Rachel, Jai and Scotty. They crossed wobbling lilypads high off the ground, shot down the impressively long flying fox, built bush shelters, completed team-building exercises, rode mountain bikes down obstacle courses, swung high into the air on the giant swing and tried their hands at archery.
There were also moments of reflection and creativity. The students were given 5 minutes to find a place in the wonderous bush setting to just sit and reflect or ponder on whatever they liked without any distractions. Their feedback after the reflection time showed how much it affected them to just be there present with the environment.
A highlight in the evening activities was the “Paperfashe´" event. Students were broken into two groups to design costumes or garments using only newspaper and sticky tape. They then choreographed a catwalk sequence to display their efforts. The Star Wars and Wizard of Oz themed costumes were considered some of the best the camp had ever seen.
As we neared the end of the trip, the fatigue set in and eyes and minds were directed towards home even though numerous students exclaimed that it “was the best camp they had ever been on”.
Most of Year 7 had a week away from school after their camp, as there were a few cases of COVID in the class. The positive cases in the school community and the Blue Mountains community are still significant enough for us to remain careful about hygiene and health.
Please continue to keep students at home if they are displaying symptoms.
Current NSW Health advice is that if a student is unwell and has any symptoms, they should always test for COVID-19.
If the test comes back negative for COVID-19, the student should still not return to school until either:
- The student no longer has any symptoms, or
- A medical certificate is provided to the school confirming that the symptoms are explained by another diagnosis (such as hay fever)
Rapid antigen tests can produce false negative results and symptoms of other illnesses can also be similar to COVID-19, including flu, the common cold and stomach bugs.
Health advice is that student who are sick should always stay home to rest and recover and avoid putting other students and staff at risk of getting sick.
Thanks for your ongoing communal efforts to keep us all as healthy as possible.
Week 7, Term 1, 2022
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
A dear friend reminded me on Friday of this poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver. I hope you have all had a chance to stop this weekend, and enjoy today’s sunshine.
Year 7 students came home from camp on Friday afternoon, looking appropriately exhausted and a little dishevelled. They have had a chance to stretch themselves beyond their usual daily experience, get outdoors and challenge themselves. Cate said “They were awesome! It was wonderful to witness the transformation from fear, to courage and then astonishment and delight when they realised they actually could do an activity totally outside what they thought they could do.”
Jason has shared a few photos (below) with many more to come.
The swimming carnival in Week 6 was a chance for everyone in Years 7 to 10, to get out in the sunshine and enjoy each other’s company away from our regular school days. The day was a credit to Kizz for her careful organisation and balance of fun, exercise, cooperation and competition. Students participated in formal and informal swimming events, either in the water or as part of the organisation and activities around the pool. One of our staff members wrote “It was an absolutely delightful day. The year 7 to 10 students that attended and participated in the swimming carnival were engaged, enthusiastic, supportive and a big bag of fun!!”
Thank you Kizz, and all the staff who helped on the day.
With the increased number of sunny days, we had an increase of creatures around the school – particularly the reptiles who stretched out to soak up the warmth. We are lucky to have quite a few Blue-Tongue lizards call Korowal home, and we had a couple of days with some visiting baby snakes. Teachers reminded students of the safest thing to when they see a snake, and the sightings eased by the end of the week. Hopefully they have moved to quieter fields.
The end of last week also saw an ease to Covid case numbers. While the number of positive cases stays low in our community, we are able to invite Primary parents back to open afternoons. Talulah will share the afternoon your child/ren’s classrooms will be open for you to come and see the classroom, enjoy their art and bookwork, and chat to their teacher. We really look forward to seeing more people on the ground.
Which reminds me that last Saturday’s Information Morning was a great success, with 16 interested families walking through to see the school. We still have places available in some classes and encourage you to talk to your friends and family about our wonderful school!
Week 5, Term 1, 2022
Week 5 was our first week without Barb. We received news of her safe and happy arrival in the UK, and turned our attention to a week at Korowal of additional Covid cases, wet wet weather, and lower numbers of students and staff at school.
It was also a week at Korowal of collaborative and joyful learning, ducking and weaving with friends through the rain showers and puddles.
We have continued to send the whole school COVID updates each day the numbers changed.
The Year 2 class stayed at home all week to help minimise further cases in Primary, and to ease any pressure for parents and carers. Thank you to everyone for working together to help keep our students as healthy as possible. Those students who have completed their 7 day isolation, and are asymptomatic, will be back at school on Monday.
Staff shortages and changes
There were a number of things affecting staff availability during the week, and we warned families of the possible impact of this on Thursday. However, our concerns were unrealised, as the staff we had available were willing to cover extra classes, complete extra tasks, and adapt to whatever was needed across the school.
A huge thank you to all of the staff who worked to fill gaps while remaining in good spirits - in the Office, Library, Learning Support, Teaching and Coordination.
It was a week where a number of people changed roles, requiring a different approach to communication and processes. It was my first week in the role of Acting Principal, and it did require a shift in my approach to ensure that all aspects of the school’s operation were covered. I value the opportunity to Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes (the Stage 3 focus study for this term) and experience Korowal a little more from Barb’s perspective.
Information Morning – Saturday 12th March
We have some places available for enrolment in classes across the school. This coming Saturday is an Information Morning for interested new families. If you have friends who want to learn more about Korowal, please encourage them to call the office to book a place. If not this Saturday, we have some weekday school tours available in the coming weeks.
There is so much at Korowal that we have to share, and we welcome the diverse energy and perspectives that new students and families bring to our community. Please help get the word out about our wonderful school!
Keep in touch as we splash our way together through the coming weeks.
Week 4, Term 1, 2022
In week 4, across the school the students were busily focussed on their learning.
Here is a beautiful reflection from Anna, our Year 2 teacher, which highlights so many of the remarkable qualities our teachers bring to their classes.
This extract is a taste of the post which is on the School’s Facebook page:
Critical Thinking: How to be a happy learner in Yr 2
- What do you need in order to be a happy learner, at school?
- What should Anna know about me, in order to support my learning?
- What should other kids do, in order to support my learning?
Students have done remarkably well identifying these separate needs, which has led to some fantastic discussions on how we can create a safe and happy classroom. This will be used as a basis to continue to develop our classroom expectations, based on the students' identified needs’. Anna, Year 2 class teacher
Through engaging students in critical thinking from an early age, the children are working with big picture ideas. As you will see from Anna’s questions, they are being asked to consider options, to analyzing and make judgments. They are exercising “…those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome…thinking that is purposeful, reasoned and goal directed”. (Halpern 1996)
Exercising Talk: Try this at home!
Building Oracy through storytelling
Sometimes the trickiest part about story writing and storytelling is generating ideas for an interesting plot. Here are some useful strategies to help young people develop creative, insightful and exciting stories.
‘Walking in the shoes of another character– children are able to adopt an already existing character from a story they love and write and/or speak from their perspective, taking the story in a new direction. If they struggle to deviate from the plot (and the story ended up being a recitation of a book/film), it can be fun to give them openings or starters from famous novels, and ask them to continue it in whichever direction they wish. (Great for teenagers as well as primary children).
Barb is taking leave
Also, in Week 4 we spent time in handover. As I take planned leave the School is in very capable hands. From Monday, Bec will be in the role of Acting Principal and Jason will be Deputy Principal. Mel continues as Business Manager and Talulah as Primary Coordinator.
As we applied a distributed leadership model to our operations a few years ago, there is a whole team that supports all of the Schools’ operations. Members of this leadership team carry advisory and coordination folios from Kindy through to Year 12. The whole team is comprised of Bec Finch (K-12), Mel Williams (K-12), Sarah Farrell Whelan (K-12), Louise Dungate (K-12), Sam Corlett (K-12), Kizz Boyd (K-12), Jennie Bucco (K-12), Andy O’Doherty (HS), Talulah Vane (PS), Jason Eddie (HS), and myself (K-12).
Focus for sabbatical
Our school is quite unique. While there are many aspects to us that are recognisable, and rather typical of Australian schools and education, our approach to wholistic learning and content delivery are our own. During my sabbatical, I will commence writing our story, drawing the threads of the past ten years together. Over this decade we have been looking ahead, bringing focus to the research and recommendations around the future needs of our graduates and applying programs to enrich the student experience. At the same time, we have renewed our values. These sit at the centre of our purpose.
The questions that launched this direction include
- Where have we come from and where are we going?
- What is of core value and what is open to change?
I intend to start there!
In addition to this, I will be visiting Cambridge, UK. I am delighted to have been invited to meet with the Oracy Cambridge team of eight, led by Professor Neill Mercer, and comprised of academics and teaching practitioners. We will sit and chew the fat, sharing our developments and planning for the ongoing application of Oracy at Korowal. From there I intend to visit a few primary schools who are embedding their work with Oracy Cambridge, and share our progress with them.
All being well in the world, we hope to confirm Alan Howe’s Oracy residency at Korowal in Term 4,2022.
As I sign off for a while, I send you all my love and thanks for supporting each other. I am looking forward to taking our story, Korowal, to the UK!
May you keep well, and may we all remember that during yet another iteration of COVID protocols, kindness is the essence of our humanity.
Bye-bye for the present,
Week 3, Term 1, 2022
We enjoyed learning outdoors in the sun and the shade right across our third week of term. Thank you for sending hats and remembering our sun-safe dress requirements as the UV rays are high in the Mountains.
Our Year 12, 2021
Our recent graduates have now locked in their university and TAFE decisions for post-school study. We extend our Congratulations to all of our Year 12 Graduates in 2021.
They faced their senior school years under extreme circumstances. Within our Pathways model, they undertook half of their subjects and HSC exams in Year 11, and the second half of their subjects and HSC exams in 2022. Both of these years were directly impacted by COVID restrictions, remote schooling, social isolation and more.
Then they encountered the delay to the start of the HSC exams in 2021. Not surprisingly, under the consistent support and guidance of teachers, friends and families, they have achieved outstanding personal results.
14% of this Year 12 cohort gained ATARS in the top 10% of the state. A remarkable achievement!
Many have attained personal bests across subjects. A couple have just scraped through the exams, completely ‘over’ the experience by the end of the year, and not at all concerned about that.
All of them are wonderful human beings and will go forth, as discerning, and compassionate people capable of impacting change towards a sustainable world. We are noticing that the GAP year is currently less popular than previously. Many of them will be commencing Bachelor Degrees in Arts, Business, Science, Advanced Science- Physics, Medical Science, Zoology, Forensic Science, Digital Design, Computer Science, Music Therapy, double degrees in Journalism & Communications and International studies & Science, Film Production and more. They have chosen to enrol across UTS, Sydney, Wollongong and Western Sydney Universities, as well as the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. In addition, some graduates are pursuing Photography at TAFE, and possibly attending the Police Academy. Others have not yet decided what lies ahead and are taking time to contemplate.
We are proud of each and every one of them. None of us knew what the impact of remote learning may be but they have shone. We wish them all the best as they fly the coop and embrace the new. We also wish their families the best as we hear many are moving away from home as they commence the next chapter.
This is our second week of this new section in our weekly posts. It brings a focus to Oracy and some simple ways to ‘Exercise Talk’ at home. How did you go with extending reasoning with the use of ‘Because’ as suggested last week?
This week we use sentence starters to assist to form debate, wherein the ideas can be extended and/or challenged, while keeping discussion alive.
The Big Debate: Work with others at home and discuss the following question:
Q: If you could take a pill that would mean you would never fail at anything, would you take it?
You may wish to use these Practise Sentence starters to help build oracy skills:
- In my opinion…
- I strongly believe…
- On the other hand…
- Have you considered…
- I respect your point of you, however…
We hope you enjoy playing with this idea!
High School Swimming Carnival
We are very happy to be able to run this event in 2022. The Carnival will be held at Lawson Pool on Thursday 24th February, in Week 4. This is a festive occasion where fun is the purpose of the day. We encourage all students to attend, whether in or out of the water, as there are many roles to be undertaken. Everybody gets to participate to their ability.
It is not a day off school, but a day to come together.
There is a slight change to our procedures from this week in that we have altered the cohort groupings. Updates will be sent home to families when there is a new case registered by parents, with the school. We sent all families an email on Saturday that explains the changes we have made to this, so if you did not receive it either through email or SkoolBag, please email the School office and let us know.
Thank you all for working together, and with us.
Week 2, Term 1, 2022
This week was settled. We enjoyed having the canteen return, for the smells connected with cooking permeating the grounds and nearby classrooms. There is something about home cooked meals that far exceeds commercial reheating! We are thankful to Steph for the care she puts into planning, preparing and serving our meals at Korowal.
Now that we are back and continue to develop our opportunities for Oracy, learning ‘through’ talk and ‘to’ talk, we are going to introduce a new section to A Window with View, titled ‘EXERCISE TALK’. In this section we will offer ideas for you and your family to play with at home.
This week we launch it with the use of the word BECAUSE, to move from a feeling response to a thinking response.
When we ask someone to explain the reason behind a comment or decision, we are engaging the cognitive aspects of talk. In giving a reason for a response, we move from a feeling, into a thinking state. We can model this with our children quite simply by adding ‘because’ to a sentence, and further explaining our reasoning.
A simple example
A child may shout a heated statement “I’m not wearing that jumper’. A parent’s response may be ‘but you need to ‘because’ you’ll get cold if you don’t’.
Do we know why the child won’t wear a jumper? Not really, and we may jump to a conclusion. However, if the child adds ‘because’ then extends their response, we hear their reasoning. Using ‘because’ we may hear that it itches them, or it smells funny, or they are already hot. Rather than making assumptions we hear their reason. We can then adjust our response according to their reason. The child feels heard and the parent understands the reasoning behind their original feeling response.
As we are working with oracy in learning, a student may respond to a teacher’s question, in Maths for example. The answer is ‘x’. By adding ‘because’ they explain their reasoning. Other students hear their reasoning and this increases their understanding of the ‘how’ that problem was resolved. Together the students build on each other’s learning.
Why not give it a go of you don’t already do this!
Covid positive cases
Towards the end of the week we have had cases reported in high school and have sent letters to cohorts alerting them of this. While we have windows and doors open, air purifiers on and are monitoring C02 emissions, it is passing through groups. Masks are also being worn. It is our understanding that some students have developed symptoms that have not been recognised as COVID symptoms.
These are our observations from this week. Vomiting, coughing and/or temperatures are symptomatic of COVID. RAHT tests may not be picking it up on the first day, however these are symptoms of some illness or another. Please do not return to school the next day if any of these symptoms have been present, and allow the bug to pass if it is not COVID, or for the possibility of a positive test a day later. We have observed that it may take another day before the RAHT detects it as COVID. We think that some students have been at school when symptomatic. We request that you are hypervigilant, keeping children/ young people home if they are at all unwell. Thank you for your cooperation in this. We are focussed on keeping the school open and everybody as safe as possible, and if this spreads to staff we will be very compromised.
It is also a timely reminder to use the home testing kits on Sunday evening/ Monday morning and again Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning routinely for the next two weeks.
The tests were sent home on Friday and if not yet received, may still be collected from the office. If you register a positive case, please inform the school through the office email or by phone.
The beauty of our community is that we care. Let’s continue to go gently and look out for each other.
Week 1, Term 1, 2022
After four days we have settled into the term. Having the children and young people back on campus we wonder what all the fuss was about. They are accommodating of the changes needed and we are all just getting on with it. We extend a warm welcome to all of our kindy families, as well as further new families across the school.
Kindy started on Friday with some smiles and trepidation. Within this group there are many siblings of current children, and children of staff, finally coming to big school. They are old hands at morning circle and know where the building blocks are kept in the Kindy room!
We have held all class meetings across our primary classes in Week 1. Thank you for your attendance. If you were not able to be there, we suggest that you buddy up with another family from your class and run through the content covered. We will be posting links to the videos as the groups had requested, especially where there were internet interruptions.
Smooth transitions between home to school
At this time of the year, we often share our observations from staff about how to successfully transition back to school, or into class. They are keen observers of what assists and what disrupts children. Here are a few helpful hints, especially for the young-uns:
- Rather than saying ‘goodbye’ to your child, we suggest saying ‘see you later’. It is not as final, and suggests that we are only apart for a period of time, that we will be together again soon.
- If your child is reluctant to attend and has been collected by a staff member in the turning circle, drive away. Do not linger until they have gone out of sight. Indicate a clear handover. The same applies when it is time for parents to leave morning circle, say ‘see you later’ and leave with confidence.
- Make all travel arrangements and inform your child of these before school, then stick with them. Changes to transport, playdates etc, can be very disruptive for children. They need routine and consistent messaging in order to settle into the day.
- Think about when and how you ask your child about their day. At the end of a school day they are generally hungry, may be tired, and experiencing a transition from school to home. Give them your full attention and let them talk, or not. Sharing your day can assist your child into your life without them, and they can do the same “One thing that I did today was. ……… What is one thing you did today?” Refrain from saying you missed them as this can be disruptive, for they had no choice in this matter.
- If your child is confused or upset by something that occurred at school, remember that this is one perspective of what occurred and check in with the class teacher the following day.
The canteen will be open from Tuesday and menus have been uploaded onto SkoolBag.
High school class meetings over the coming week
As was the way with primary class meetings these will all be held online through Zoom. Years 7-10 will be held on Tuesday 8th, and Years 11 and 12 on Thursday 10th. There are specific starting times per Stage, so please check your class email for details.
Thank you all for working with us to keep everyone as healthy as possible. We are satisfied that our current plans are working well and hope that we can continue to have teachers run their classes from campus.
- If you have a case of COVID in your household, then children must stay home for 7 days and only return to school after a negative COVID test result
- More RAHT tests will be delivered to the school over the coming week and we will distribute them to you or your child when received. They will cover weeks 3 & 4 of term
- It is recommended that the tests are undertaken twice a week, Monday and Wednesday, in a regular school week.
We acknowledge that doing RAHT tests with your children can be very challenging. If you are in need of a laugh, Melbourne comedian Jimmy Rees has provided some comic relief. Titled ‘What back to school Looks Like in 2022’, this 3 minute skit is available at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VG8lDxOVY
As we launch into Week 2 there is spring in our steps. Let’s remember wherever possible to have a good laugh!