Principal's Weekly Update
A Window with a View
Week 1, Term 1, 2019
It was wonderful to welcome your children and yourselves back to Korowal on Thursday morning. Our Summer break away from routine is perceptible in the energy and focus brought to bear at the start of the new school year. For the past three weeks staff have been preparing, either back at school or at home, to have everything in place for the moment when our students return, for then it all has meaning and we are whole again.
It is strange where you hear things about Korowal, and what you hear people say. Today for the first time (while at the hairdressers) I mentioned that I worked at Korowal, and was met with smiles and two people saying simultaneously ‘Ah, the cool school!’ So maybe we have moved away from the reference of ‘the hippy school’ to become thoroughly contemporary in other people’s eyes. It’s not really a surprise to us, but it’s great that people are looking at us as we are today. We value play, and academic rigour, and we expect students to act responsibly in order to embrace the freedoms that this enables them.
The more we all spread the word about what a beautiful school Korowal is, the more people will find out about us, ‘the best kept secret in the Mountains’! Reflecting on the past few years we can confidently state that they have been harmonious and we have strengthened our commitment to stay relevant to current as well as future needs. It really is a peaceful place to be. With our refined communications systems, Open Dialogue sessions, Restorative Practice and increased playground supervision, any tensions between students are being eased before escalation. We value parents and students raising issues and concerns and provide the space for them to be heard, as we strive to remain aligned with our values.
Korowal Community, Primary and High School, BBQ this Friday
To propel us in to the year, Talulah (a parent and our Primary art teacher) has again offered to coordinate our Korowal Community Picnic/BBQ. Please come along after school this Friday 8th Feb. 3:30 to 5:30pm. This will be a great opportunity to chat with fellow Korowal students and parents, and meet new families joining us this year.
As this was very successful last year, we would like all students to contribute a piece of fruit or vegetable for salads. Please send these to school on Friday morning.
Talulah will be organising volunteers for Friday afternoon to slice, dice and prepare salads. We will also need BBQ chefs and servers, and the essential cleaners and assistants afterwards. If you are able to help out please email
Talulah - email@example.com
Looking forward to seeing you all there!
Chinese visiting students
We will have 19 students from China visiting us all week in order to experience education at Korowal. The students will be undertaking their own English language classes each morning, and joining Primary and High School classes after recess. This visit beautifully coincides with the Chinese New Year on Tuesday 5th February. Our Chinese language teacher from Western Sydney University, Bing, has invited students to wear red clothes on Tuesday to acknowledge this significant day of celebration for Chinese people. Bing will share the traditions and meanings behind the Chinese New Year in her language class with Stage 3 on Tuesday. We are sure our Chinese student visitors will also have much to share with us!
Calendar of Class Meetings
We have now emailed all families the Term 1 Calendar of events. Please take time to review this. Class meetings begin on Monday evening and continue for two weeks. We encourage you to prioritise these as they are few and far between, and the best way for creating class community. As your children grow and move towards independence, keeping communication channels open is easier if you know the parents of their friends and have an understanding that it’s ok to check in when necessary.
Now, until we meet at a class meeting, or at the Community BBQ, may you enjoy the cooler weather. Also, if you have not already done so, check out the new Korowal website!
It is great to be back.
A Window with a View
Week 2, Term 1, 2019
We welcomed Kindy children and parents to School this week. Even though many of us are years or even decades away from our children starting school, the significance of this rite of passage and the emotions involved are very near at these times. Singing the welcome songs, holding hands in circles, saying farewell to parents and stepping into the ‘big school’ experience, are all familiar first day rituals, but each year they are unique to the families of our new kindy group. We congratulate all of our Kindy families for their smooth transition to school.
Thank you for your understanding regarding the need to postpone the planned Community BBQ on Friday due to the storm predictions. Fortunately, their intensity passed over us, yet we regret that we were unable to come together in the early weeks of term. As soon as possible we will publish the alternate date and so enjoy the occasion.
We are happy to announce that our first Year 6 student and parent visit to our Caihe 3rd School, sister school in Hangzhou, China, is proceeding this year. This tour will provide our students with the experience of life in a large primary school in China, in stark contrast to their experience at Korowal. They will attend classes, as well as visit museums, galleries and a tea plantation, before getting a fast train to Shanghai to experience Disneyland and the Bund. They will stay in both hotels and homestay arrangements, as Hangzhou families are keen to welcome us to their homes and spend a day sightseeing. The tour is to take place over the Easter holidays and currently includes five students, five parents and Korowal staff. While we have confirmed these numbers, final numbers will be submitted on Thursday, so if you have overlooked the deadline there is still room for inclusion.
In continuing our commitment to exposing our students to further cultural diversity, throughout 2019 Bing will again be working with Years 5 and 6, introducing cultural insights and Mandarin language. She will be attending the tour to Hangzhou and will provide an essential interpretation of language and culture for our families and staff. Bing’s Mandarin classes are in addition to the weekly Japanese language and cultural program (NSW Australian Curriculum) that is taught by Louise and embraced by the students from Kindy to Year 10. Together, these provide a rich program, and we anticipate some insightful conversations and review when the group returns from China.
In the week to come, Years 7, 11 and 12 will attend their annual camps. We encourage all students to participate in this outdoor education program, for the benefits far outweigh the potential discomforts. We notice that it is becoming more challenging for parents to hold their teenage children to this aspect of the curriculum, possibly because the resistance is too intense. Students attending camp do not have access to electronic devices, are involved in group activities, undertake physical challenges, and confront their self-imposed limits. They laugh a lot, sing a bit, get wet and dirty, may feel uncomfortable, but always come back saying camp was awesome. Unless there is a health concern, please hold the line on this issue. In confronting fears and complacencies, resilience is developed. Our Year Coordinators are available to talk this through with you if necessary.
As we seize each day and its opportunities for new experiences in play and discovery, we are grateful to be surrounded by bush, beauty, and interesting people. With the green tips sprouting in the charcoaled bush, wallabies with joeys have returned to our grounds again.
Let’s take time to notice!
Window with a View
Week 3, Term 1, 2019
In the High School
Annual camps are an integral part of the outdoor education curriculum in the high school. They are structured learning experiences outside the usual school routine. In the past week, from Wednesday to Friday, two groups attended camps. Year 7 ventured to the YMCA Camp at Yarramundi, under the guidance of their intrepid Coordinators, Barb H and Andrew. Pathways students trekked to Dunns Swamp, or Ganguddy, as it is known to the local Aboriginal people. This site is a beautiful waterway on the Cudgegong River in Wollemi National Park. Students were accompanied by plucky Pathways Coordinators, Lisa H and Rick, as well as Andy (Andrea), a great addition to the Korowal staff in 2019.
Ideal weather conditions at Yarrumundi provided the backdrop for a marvellous experience for our newest members of the high school. Archery, high ropes, cave maze, rock climbing, kayaking, abseiling, orienteering, giant swing, alpine rescue, and the campfire, were included in the program for the three days and two nights. Whilst the students had a good deal of fun, they achieved other important outcomes such building resilience and cohesion as a group. In all respects, Year 7 is transitioning successfully into secondary schooling.
At the other end of the high school, the Pathways camp represents a different rite of passage, as our senior students continue to transition into young adulthood. The program for them included canoeing, swimming, bushwalking, bird watching, bush survival skills, camping, and team building. The physical activities provide a medium for students to forge their solidarity and identity as the senior leaders of the student body. Reports from our own teachers and Red Hill Environmental Education staff who facilitate the camp, were that Pathways students gave a commendable account of themselves throughout the event.
Sincere thanks to the teachers who attended the camps, giving students a memorable outdoor education and skills building experience. Thank you also to the teachers who held the fort, ensuring Year 8, 9 & 10 continued their on site learning unabated. Additionally, Week 3 witnessed the culmination of a series of meetings for each year group. We appreciate the engagement of parents and carers at these meetings, in our ongoing partnership of educating our most important stakeholders, our students.
In the Primary School
Teachers and students also went about the core business of teaching and learning. We asked our new Kindergarten students what they like about being at Korowal and here is what they said:
Maths is iniguous [sic] which means so pretty. I liked when we made the shapes with our bodies. I like singing “Good mornings what we do”. I like that we get to say our sounds and act them out like “n,n,n” I like quiet play time. I like when we say our goodbyes. I feel the most welcomed at school. I share, I play. School is like a dandelion that comes from the heart. School makes me learn and my brain gets better and better.
Playing with Matilda and doing all the fun crafts and letters. I like playing in the playground because it’s fun. I like it because we do the afternoon circle and the morning circle. I like it because we sing the songs altogether and it’s really nice and beautiful.
I like learning the new letters every day and learning how to read. I like dressing up and quiet play.
I like it when you read me books.
I like playing with Evie. I like learning facts like writing and drawing.
Learning stuff and learning how the weather feels and what the day is like. Playing and making new friends.
I like learning my sounds and Maths. I like playing with friends.
I like playing with new friends and old friends. I like handing out the crayons when it’s my turn. I like putting my desk away and stuff. I like our maths books, they are so cool. I thought there were only two pages in my books but then I know that there’s lots.
And here’s some other quotes our teachers heard this week from Primary students:
It’s easier to get help from a teacher when it is a small class. (Year 6 student)
It’s ok, I’m having fun. It’s probably my favourite thing to have. (Year 4 student)
Oh…do we have to go home? Please don’t say it’s home time. I want to keep working on my embroidery.(Year 4 student) Yeah can we keep doing it? (Rest of the class)
We love being able to look after the new Kindies and see them smile. (Year 6 student)
I would go out there and tell everyone to come to Korowal because it’s the best school, the teachers care and we do lots of fun things. (Year 5 student)
Our playground is really beautiful. (Year 5 student)
Reading this book with everyone just makes me happy. I really feel like I’m on an adventure. (Year 5 student)
I like my homework. It’s fun! (Year 4 student)
There are teachers who teach and we get to do drawing and play. (Year 1 student)
It is certainly heart-warming to hear the candid observations of our youngest students. We are delighted that learning thus far for them has been enjoyable. Their comments are also a wonderful affirmation of our teachers who work tirelessly to provide a uniquely valuable educational experience for our students.
Have a great week!
Alistair & Bec