Principal's Weekly Update
A Window with a View
Week 7, Term 2, 2019
On Thursday night of Week 7, a small gathering of parents met to hold the second conversation around Bush School and Environmental Education. This is a great initiative started by a group of primary parents and spreading into high school, and is looking at the purpose as well as ways of including more options and developing a plan for the whole school. If you are interested in knowing what is happening, the parents at the centre of this include Helen, Tatiana, Amie, Nathaniel and Sheona, amongst others. As we have Bush School in primary this coming Friday, as the first of our NAIDOC week celebrations, we invite any parents who wish to support the activities on the day to contact Bec.
Korowal NAIDOC Celebrations, 2019
‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s Work Together for A Shared Future.’
NAIDOC week falls in the school holidays from 7th-14th July. We will be celebrating NAIDOC week at Korowal in the weeks leading up to and following the holidays in numerous ways.
Our Aboriginal High School students will be joining us for some of the day’s activities at Bush School. These students have been at the centre of the suggestions for how they would like to celebrate NAIDOC.
Friday 21st June- Primary School Bush School
There will be several NAIDOC related activities included in our Term 2 Bush School. We will begin with a Welcome to Country by special guest Darug educator, Tracey McManus.
Tracey is a board member of the Blue Mountains Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and an experienced teacher, specialising in Aboriginal education for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. All students will have the opportunity to work with Tracey on the day.
Tracey will be helping us develop our school totem.
There will be a Fabric printing workshop. Students can bring in a white t-shirt to print with the Korowal symbol in the colours of the Aboriginal flag. We will also be printing bunting.
In addition to this, students will make wool friendship bracelets which will be handed out to all people attending the NAIDOC assembly as they enter in Term 3.
Further activities will take place the following week. These include:
Wednesday 26th June HS Basketball Competition, Morning Tea and Lunch
A series of 3x3 basketball competitions for HS students open to all HS students where Years 3-12 are welcome to watch and support all games on the ballcourt. We extend thanks to Ki’s family who have donated beanies and a jumper as a prize.
Friday 28th June PS Walk to Kangaroo Rock (TBC)Primary students will walk to Kangaroo Rock via bush track and Queens Road. Here they will observe and discuss rock carvings.
Term 3, WEEK 1, ON Wednesday 24th July- NAIDOC assembly from 10.00am-11am in the School hall
On the day, people will be given a friendship band made by primary as they enter.
The Hall will be decorated in bunting printed with the Korowal symbol in the colours of the Aboriginal flag (bunting made at bush school). The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags will be displayed in hall and Uncle Graham Cooper will give a Welcome to Country.
We will also be treated to a Performance by Jo Clancy and Wagana Dancers.
We are excited that this is such a rich cultural event and extend our thanks to the staff and students who have been in conversation about these celebrations since the start of the year.
Chickenpox outbreak continues
This week we have seen a further 12 cases of chickenpox, which now also include adults in our school. If only the holidays were starting now!
However, since they are not, we appeal to all families to be vigilant and check for spots, while knowing that the period of contagion occurs prior to spots appearing, and during the outbreak. From what we have heard, some students have not had a runny nose before, nor it would appear, had any flu symptoms, but have felt a bit sick. They then appear in sick bay with a fever or spots. We have also seen cases where the person has had a bad cold or flu, then also developed chicken pox, as their immune system was down. We are seeing cases where the people have previously had chickenpox. Please, if your child is not feeling well, keep them home and observe them. We are concerned for the families who are vulnerable.
As the virus is air born, and spread through coughs and sneezing, it may help if you practice (with your children) them covering their mouths for coughs and sneezes and washing hands afterwards. There are many children coughing directly onto others, including their teachers.
Information Morning, Saturday 15th
On Saturday, we had around twenty new families visit our School at our Information Morning, so thank you for spreading the word. Maddie and Will from Year 10 were student ambassadors on the day and they were comfortable in speaking of their experiences as students at Korowal. We have no doubt that a student voice resounds with families, as they live the experience. Sincere thanks are extended to all students, parents and staff who are championing a Korowal education.
May you stay warm and have good health for the final weeks of term.
A Window with a View
Week 6, Term 2, 2019
Week 6 at Korowal was a week of celebrating our community.
We commenced with a meeting on Monday night where we had around 120 parents and carers come along to hear our immediate plans for growing our School and giving back to parents. We invited parents to speak with friends and let them know just how beautiful, nourishing and strong our School is, and issue an invitation to make contact if they want to attend Korowal. On Saturday 15th June we will be having an Information Morning where you and your friends can visit us, you can show them around, or direct them to contact us. The more the merrier.
We then had a snow day!
When snow falls and interrupts the highway, teachers and families cannot get through. If police advise us to close the School we will, but that was not the case on Tuesday. We did not close the School but called it a snow day, as we had reduced staff and student numbers, but many students live outside of the snow zone. The highway was covered in ice to Wentworth Falls, so our School bus ran from Bullaburra only.
With numbers in our high school being the equivalent of one class of students, and with half the usual number in primary on Tuesday, the high school took to cooking soup and making pizza bread, doing homework and projects, and watching a movie together while eating their spoils of their labours for lunch. The atmosphere was delightful. Similarly, with smaller primary classes, routines were broken and the students responded with a relaxed playfulness.
Our school Inspection from NESA
Then on Thursday we were visited by three inspectors from NESA (NSW Educational Authorities) for the second and final phase of our Registration and Accreditation review, which happens every 5 years. Our staff have been working diligently to ensure that all evidence supporting our programs, policies and procedures was ready for the inspection.
The inspectors stated that quality teaching was evident in all of the sample documents. They cited strong evidence of variety in teaching strategies, with a balance between theory and practices, with clear evidence of adjustments and differentiation for students, plus very detailed teacher feedback and evaluations. They commented on the very sound reflective practices we have in place. This was emphasised! They also commented on the constant alignment between the elements- from programs, assessment calendars and tasks through to samples of students and teachers’ work. The quality of work submitted by our teachers was praised.
Similarly, in Administration, (attendance, enrolment procedures, Working With Children Check register etc.), Finances and Governance areas, we passed with flying colours. Evidence of the application of policies and procedures, including student wellbeing and discipline procedures, staff child-protection training, publication of policies and procedures on our website and communication with families, were also scrutinized.
We can confidently state that our house is in order!
As a small school, we do not have faculty heads or other ‘heads of…’ structures that would support some administrative requirements which otherwise burden teachers. Our teachers often carry a heavier load as they cannot share the subject programming requirements with colleagues within a faculty. They are not only masters in their field but also extremely committed individuals who go above and beyond for students, and our School.
Our executive and administration teams have been the drivers of key areas, and we are all beneficiaries of their dedication and care. They do not shy away from hard work, nor do they accept compromise easily. As is the case with our Directors on the Korowal School Council. No stone has been left unturned.
On behalf of all of our community I applaud our teachers, our administration team and all of the staff who support our students and make Korowal a great School. We can proudly state this.
Futsal Gala Day
On Friday the high school students participated in the Mountains Futsal Gala Day. We wait to hear from them, but by the looks of it, Lola has been awarded a medal. Thanks to Kizz, Helen, and all who played for Korowal.
Vision and Mission
On Tuesday we will be working with our AIS consultants to refine the information collected through our parent, staff and student sessions. We are excited to move to the next stage, towards finalising our School’s Vision and Mission Statements.
We hope you have a beautiful week.
A Window with a View
Week 5, Term 2, 2019
Why Korowal? This is a question we are often asked.
We answer that we are a School with inspiring and dedicated teachers; where relationships are respectful and recognised as integral to learning - academic, social, personal; where we celebrate difference; and where curiosity, enquiry and questions are welcomed. We are small and nurturing.
In recent weeks we have met with several families from Sydney, looking for an alternative approach to schooling. Through our conversations the thematic link between these families is that they are all are seeking a school where space and time is provided for children and teenagers to play and be creative whilst surrounded by beauty. They want their child in the company of adults who listen and share a passion for learning while encouraging intrigue and discovery; where rules are logical and based on safety and respect rather than seemingly trivial authoritarian directives; where open and honest conversations can be had so that we all, the children and adults, learn from each other.
That sounds like Korowal!
These parents and students are concerned about being regularly tested from kindergarten, and are noticing anxiety levels increase in their child, and therefore the family. They also want to know their neighbours and are looking forward to getting to know our community.
Of those met, we are aware of three families who will be moving into the area to attend Korowal in 2020.
It appears that Korowallians pop up everywhere. At a gallery One88 opening on Saturday evening, Kath Veel, our retired art teacher, participated in her first exhibition, and there were many alumni families present. It was a treat to see Kath’s paintings of seascapes on the walls.
One graduate, Aloka Hammiel, was embarrassed when her father Phil proudly announced that Aloka had just received the Deans Medal at the University of Technology, Sydney, on graduating from her Architecture Degree. It reminded me that a few weeks ago, Anna Summers, a recent graduate and teacher of our Year 1, also received an award. Both young women were awarded for achieving their degrees with Distinctions and High Distinctions.
It struck me that I have heard this repeated of Korowal graduates many times over, and a deep sense of pride and satisfaction, of rightness, came over me. Kath’s son, Kit Rigby, was also present at the exhibition, and is one of a rare breed of artists who is making a living from his art as an animater for ‘Flying Bark’ in Sydney. Aloka and Kit both spoke fondly of how they keep in touch with people from across the years at Korowal and enjoy catching up when they can. The bonds forged in our beautiful environment linger.
Community Meeting Monday June 3rd at 6.30pm.
Tomorrow, on Monday night at our community meeting, we will further celebrate our uniqueness. We look forward to seeing you at 6.30 in the School Hall.
We send a reminder that we have several cases of Chicken Pox in primary. Please observe the health guidelines to ensure that we minimise the risk of spreading this disease, especially for people who are vulnerable in our community. The SkoolBag post and email has the Health Department’s Communicable Disease factsheet attached.
May you and your families keep well through the flu season.
A Window with a View
Week 4, Term 2, 2019
Parent Conversations – Bush School
We have many passionate, thoughtful and involved parents in the Korowal Community – some of whom are wanting more conversations about education for their children. We had the first of regular conversation evenings last Thursday focussed on Bush School. I gave a brief overview of the Primary Bush School Days, and wish to take this opportunity to reiterate the enormous energy and innovation that the Primary teachers bring to these days. We have used these special days once a term to bring students together in mixed age groups and spend the entire day outside. It is fun, interesting and delightfully exhausting for everyone involved.
The parents sitting together on Thursday evening came with their own experiences, skills and desires for outdoor and nature-based educational experiences. We opened the moment for all ideas to be shared and discussed in small groups. They were recorded in bright, dynamic crayon script and will be compiled to share and ignite action. If you have ideas, time and energy you would like to contribute, please contact Helen Laird: email@example.com
Bush School Day this term is Friday 21st June.
Our next Parent Conversation is a whole school focus on environmental education and action. Please come along on Thursday 13th June 7pm – 8pm
Parent involvement in education at Korowal has been a focus this term with these Parent Conversations, and the Mission and Vision brainstorm sessions last week described by Barb (see Window with a View, Week 3). The Mission and Vision review continues next week as we run a session with the Pathways students.
We continue to form links with community groups and events, and would like to thank Tatiana Lozano for supporting Korowal students to attend the 2019 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) event on 17th May. It was a wonderful show of the strength, passion and commitment to inclusion held by young people in our community. We were proud to stand alongside representatives of other mountains schools, while standing out in our individuality and rainbow colours!
Our next exciting event is tomorrow, Monday 27th May when we participate in Pirate Day in May to raise money for childrens’ medical research. Kindy, Year 1 & Year 2 have worked with Year 10 students to craft a cardboard Pirate Ship and eye patches to wear tomorrow. Everyone is invited to dress up like a pirate and bring your gold coin treasure to donate or spend at the cake stall during lunchtime.
The intrigue doesn’t end with the promise of Pirates among us…there have been many questions about the invitation to our community meeting next Monday 3rdJune. You have been asked to come along to hear our Principal, Barb; and Chair of the Board, Greg share important news.
The notice sent out states, “We have come up with an amazing idea that will positively affect each of you and we are really excited about sharing this news with you. This news is so important that it has to be shared in person.”
We will meet in the school Hall on Monday 3rd June at 6:30pm. RSVP using the link on your SkoolBag notification.
It is the personal and relational challenges of working in a diverse and dynamic educational community that I love about Korowal. We continue to strengthen the experiences and development of our children, together!
A Window with a View
Week 3, Term 2, 2019
On Friday at the end of Week 3, Year 10 returned from their city camp, and Years 3 and 4 futsal teams returned with sweet victory to the Under 9 Girls team, who were undefeated to the end. While we have not yet received feedback on the camp, we are able to publish a parent’s response to being a spectator at the Soccer Gala day.
‘My first Futsal Gala Day as a parent at Korowal was full of excitement as I watched my son prepare for the day, arrive full of nerves, have his turn on the field and come off so excited and raring for the next game. This was a sweet moment for him after he had attended try out after try out at his old school, always unsuccessful, simply because he went to a large public school and they would only send one team and he never made the cut….The atmosphere was fantastic, the kids were competitive, keen for their turn, encouraging towards each other, but the cheering and excitement for each other between U9 Boys, U9 Girls and U10 Boys was by far the most rewarding part of the day! Kizz was full of enthusiasm, fair and consistent, her encouragement towards every child for the effort they bring to the team was refreshing! It was a pleasure to attend!’
Thank you to all of our enthusiastic players and their teacher, Kizz. We were receiving updates through the office as play was underway, so we felt connected and excited for you all. Many people commented on the support and encouragement the students gave to each other, so sport was the winner!
Parent Mission and Vision Sessions
This week we held two sessions for revision and renewal of our Mission and Vision statements. It was deeply satisfying to invite parents in and work together on a meaningful and significant activity that will set the future direction for our School.
Overall, we had 19 parents brainstorm around the themes of ‘Korowal Now’, ‘Korowal 2030’ and ‘A Korowal Graduate, 2030’. The discussions at each group table were dynamic and aligned. The task of refining priorities and summarising into a simple statement all that has gone before, was a creative process. It twisted and squeezed the brain before arriving at the quintessential statement.
We now have hundreds of post-it notes with single ideas, summary category headings, priority statements and final statements of ‘Korowal exists to………so that……….’ from each table. We will process these and combine them with the staff/directors’ workshop summaries. We will then have a focussed discussion with Exec, the Co-Chairs of the Board, and be led by the AIS Leadership Centre in our discussions towards a final series of statements.
So hopefully, by the end of June, we will be launching our new Vision and Mission Statements. From what we have heard and seen from our community the differences between the old and new will be minimal. Korowal will look the same, with a renewed and current direction. Focus on relationships, environment, leadership, compassion, outdoors, leading learning - came through with every group. We are excited for the next phase of our process.
We extend our thanks to the parents who contributed their time and ideas to the sessions, while also acknowledging those who made contact to apologise that the week was too hectic to fit another thing.
This Thursday Night Parent Bush School Discussion from 7.00-8.00pm
Coming up on Thursday evening is a parent discussion group, the first of two in this series where the focus is on Bush School and Environmental Education. This has been requested by primary parents and is open for all parents, to have a forum for ideas.
Monday Evening 7.00-8.00pm - Year 10 to Year 11 HSC Information Evening
It is already that time of the year when students and parents are thinking about the transition from Year 10 to Year 11, and the Pathways Compressed model of subject delivery at Korowal. On Monday night we will explain how it works and we encourage at least one Year 10 parent to attend with their child. It can be confusing to receive a lot of information about the subjects on offer, how the HSC is structured, and what an ATAR is used for. When your child needs to talk it through, two heads are better than one.
Please invite families from outside of Korowal if they are looking at senior study with us. Current parents of younger students are also welcome to attend.
There are a few other excursions next week and we encourage you to keep up to date through our SkoolBag Ap. Caroline has posted over the weekend warning that there may be an issue for asthmatics due to lingering smoke from backburning over the weekend.
Our Korowal Website and Policies and Procedures
Jes has spent time this week further updating our Korowal Website. You will find our reviewed policies under the ‘Community Resources’ dropdown. Those listed are to do with day to day operations of the school, especially around providing a Safe and Supportive Environment, and ensuring we are compliant with Child Protection. The Complaints Handling Policy is also listed. As we have in excess of 90 Policies and procedures, we have not placed all of them on the website, but they are available on request through the School office. They make a good read over a cuppa!
As the flu season has commenced, we ask that sick children are kept home to recover. They need the rest, and we need to remain well to teach the classes. We really appreciate your support with this.
May you enjoy the week ahead and notice the leaves turning. Our maples are ablaze with autumnal tones.
A Window with a View
Week 2, Term 2, 2019
This week, at the end of Week 2, this edition is given over to hearing from students as we celebrate creativity. Through creative pursuits we engage the mind, body and emotions. We can explore, interpret, innovate and challenge, which is why we place great importance on the importance of creativity at Korowal.
On Saturday morning Andrew, Anne and I were excited to attend the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre for the opening of the ArtExpress HSC Touring Exhibition. Here, Alia Gravaldis (Yr 12, 2018) spoke to her series of digital photographs, on exhibit. In her speech, Alia celebrated that the strength of her work ‘is because of the strength of character of the individuals in the photos’.
Here is an extract of Alia’s speech.
‘The Theme of my work is The Sublime, a fleeting, elusive feeling that has been part of art and literature for a long time. It is almost always associated with nature and when evoked, the emotional response completely overcomes rational thought. It can be described as a seemingly conflicting emotional state, like a strangely fascinating mix of awe and terror’.
Through her exposure to and participation in the exhibitions of ArtExpress in different locations, Alia commented:
‘In ArtExpress I am astounded by the quality and diversity, the real themes and raw talents, that ranged in scope from personal experiences ….. to more broad and universal concepts, such as our relationship to technology, climate change.
So often words are simply not enough and art becomes the vehicle through which we impress these ideas to people in refreshing ways’. Alia
If you want to know what our young people are concerned about, go and see this. The touring exhibition has a powerful impact due to the range of significant themes and the striking quality of the artworks. In addition to those mentioned by Alia, the themes that echo throughout these works include inequality, and injustice, and the need for action; gender stereotypes; notions of gender; the refugee experience; disillusionment with traditional authoritarian structures. They are powerful statements ‘When words are simply not enough.’ (Alia).
It is our intention to take the high school students to this local exhibition. It is free entry for all, and we encourage you to step into the space with an open mind and heart.
Sydney Writers Festival
On Thursday 3rd May, Lisa and Helen accompanied 11 students from Years 7-10 to the Sydney Writers Festival High School author talks. They listened to 3 authors, Neal Shusterman, Dhonielle Clayton both from America, Aboriginal author Ambelin Kwaymullin and award winning Australian author Will Kostakis , who engaged the students with their stories of the trials and successes of writing.
Here is some of the feedback from our students:
“It has inspired me to write more because every writer that spoke said you just had to keep writing”.
“ I think it was a worthwhile excursion because of all the tips and different writing styles and viewpoints that each of the authors provided.”
“It gave me insight into other writers’ experiences and lives, and gave me useful tips on how to write and how to push through.”
“ Will Kostakis inspired me to grow as a writer.”
“ We got to learn about the writing process as well as hear some political opinions. I now want to write more frequently.”
On a more personal note, I am aware that when I am working on compliance documents such as policies and procedures, I feel a slow death approaching, but when I am writing freely, or performing, I leave that sepia world and enter into a vast, expansive world of colour, life and possibility. I acknowledge the importance of both.
May we all have moments of creativity throughout Week 3.
A Window with a View
Week 1, Term 2, 2019
This week we welcome you all back for Term 2, where our strategic focus for the community is the revision and renewal of Korowal’s Vision and Mission. An invitation has been issued to families by email this week for the parent consultations scheduled for Tuesday 14th from 1.00 -3.00pm and Wednesday 15th for 6.30-8.30pm, and we hope you can make the time to participate in these sessions for we value your insights.
As always, coming together to discuss our values and priorities was a deeply satisfying experience when we commenced the week with our staff and directors’ review on Monday, in workshop style sessions. The process exposed passion, dedication, alignment and even excitement when looking at Korowal’s Visions for our future.
Our Pathways students returned to sit their end of Year 11 Course exams and as they sat in the sun with final notes they were greeted by Lisa and her beautiful Care Dog, Aloy. Aloy wandered calmly between the students, available for calming pats. The whole scene was serene!
We have a number of exciting events for our community in the next few weeks.
Annual General Meeting
The first is our Annual General Meeting to be held this Wednesday night from 6.00 -7.00pm. We welcome your attendance.
Year 7 & 11 Information Evening
Following this in Week 3 is our ‘Year 7 and Year 11, 2020- Information Evening’, on Monday 13th from 7.00- 8.00pm. Please invite any friends or neighbours who may be interested in Korowal.
Parent Session - Review Korowal Vision & Mission Statement
Also in Week 3 are our Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday night ‘Korowal Vision and Mission Review Sessions’ (see above).
Parent Session - Bush School
Then in Week 4 on Thursday 23rd May, at the instigation of a group of parents, a primary parent discussion session will be held from 7.00-8.00pm around the theme of Bush School. The aim is to create a place for parents to share their ideas.
We Celebrate Our Recent Graduate Students’ Success
On Saturday 11 May, the Art Express Touring Exhibition opens at the Katoomba Cultural Centre, and we will be there. Alia Grinvald’s Major Work of photographs titled “Vignettes 2018” will be on display. Alia graduated in 2018 and her HSC artwork was selected for this prestigious exhibition.
A further 2018 Graduate, Sarah Keenahan, has recently been featured in the ABC series ‘Employable Me’. While it was no surprise to us to see her vivacious personality and exuberant positivity, she has made a splash in the community. You may recall that Sarah represented Korowal at State and National Swimming competitions throughout high school.
Then in a trifecta, a third Korowal graduate (2017), Conal Osfield, is the recent winner of the Australian Film Television and Radio School inaugural Storytelling Competition.
We congratulate you all as you embark on your post-school journeys.
Of course, there are many good news stories of our graduates. When we are aware of them, we enjoy sharing them. We are proud of our alumni.
We look forward to being in conversation at these, and further events planned for the term. Meanwhile we remind us all to be aware of hygiene as the cold and flu season greets us. We encourage all students to cough into sleeves or tissues, wash hands thoroughly and to be cared for at home if they are sick.
Thank you for observing turning circle safety procedures. The traffic is certainly relieved when high school parents arrive from 3.30pm onwards.
A Window with a View
Week 11, Term 1, 2019
At the close of Week 11, we thank our students and staff for a fulfilling term. We now have time to rest and replenish. We congratulate our Kindy and Year 7 students for settling in with ease and completing their first term of big school and high school.
There is a lot to celebrate about who we are. Being a school in the Mountains we experience the seasons, and are surrounded by bush. Our senses are alive. This has certainly been the case as we welcome in Autumn.
Some of the highlights of this week included the seniors students’ Art Excursion to the NSW and the White Rabbit Galleries, our Work Education elective students’ Tea Shop, Year 10’s extraordinary Science Fair, our junior high excursion to the Royal Easter Show, Kindy cooking muffins with apples from Jodie’s garden, Year 6 t-shirt printing for their Excursion to China in the holidays, and everyone cleaning their areas of the school to signal the end of term.
We continue to embrace our independence as educators of young people from kindy through to HSC, in a co-ed, inclusive environment. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity and appreciative of the degree of autonomy that this avails us. As many of you are aware, Korowal is an Aboriginal word meaning 'the Strong One’. The skills we work towards developing in our students relate to the individual’s ability to stand strong and confident, to know oneself, to embrace difference, and to be respectful of life in all of its forms. To be ‘Korowal’.
Next term we will all have the opportunity to review our Mission and Vision statements. We will provide the time to come together in groups and reflect on Korowal now, and into the future. Our Mission and Vision have been reviewed and renewed twice in the past 20 years, so when the time comes around it is a significant event. We extend an invitation to you to participate in these sessions.
We will commence with the staff and directors of the School Board engaging in a workshop on 29th April. We will then conduct two sessions with parents, one afternoon and one evening, in the second week of May. The dates will be published on our SkoolBag Ap this week. We hope you can find the time to join us.
For some students the end of term can be confusing as they have just established routines and developed friendships that are now interrupted by holidays. For others this change is not an issue at all. From our experience, if your child has taken time to settle into the term, we encourage you to keep to routine bed times, mealtimes, and access to technology. It will make their return to school smoother.
May you all enjoy the well-earned rest that the holidays bring.
A Window with a Vew
Week 10, Term 1, 2019
At the end of week 10, and as we approach the last week of term 1, there is much to celebrate.
Huff and Puff Gala Day
Congratulations to our staff and students for the spirit of participation and inclusion that permeated the Huff and Puff Gala Day. You may have seen the Korowal facebook post with our primary students crossing the finishing line together, however it is worth mentioning again. Year 4 decided that there was no need to have any winners, but that crossing the line together was more important, so that no one felt bad or left out. Their pride in their group was worth more than any individual accolade, and made a powerful statement to all who witnessed this. The teachers were brought to tears as they witnessed such strong compassion. Here is a recap from Anna, Primary Teacher:
Huff and Puff Gala Day was a fantastic opportunity for students to work together to support their teammates, across the year groups. It was lovely to see how supportive the senior students were towards their younger team mates - many taking on the role of explaining the expectations and activities to the kindergarten students, who were experiencing the Gala day for the first time. It was also great to see the parents and teachers compete in races, with the students cheering them on, and to see the hidden talents of many students that shone in their races. There was fantastic teamwork and support across all colour groups. In the apt words of a very wise five year old, "when we are all separate we are the colour groups, but together we are a rainbow."
Year 7, 2020
On Tuesday, we welcomed our current Year 6 and further students enrolled for Year 7, 2020, to experience the high school and visit three Technology Mandatory sessions, as well as participate in a science experiment with Andy O’Doherty. Our current Year 7 students warmly welcomed the group, introducing them to each other and taking them on a tour of high school. Two families were visiting from Sydney and will be moving to the Mountains to attend Korowal. They are keen to forge links with current families and a Year 6 parent, Julia Westley, has offered to coordinate a group for parents to maintain contact throughout this year while still in Year 6, organising picnics or at the very least, sharing information about school events. We will be holding several of these immersion sessions throughout the year, so if you know anyone thinking about Korowal for Year 7, please invite them along.
On Tuesday we will be hosting a play session from 12.00 - 1.00pm for children and parents looking at Kindy 2020. This is an additional way to get to know us and experience the environment when the children are in school, as often people attend the Information sessions on a Saturday. If you are intending to participate or know of others who may want to do so, please call the office on 47587466 to allow us to plan for the number of children.
Offers of place are being generated this week for Kindy and Year 7, 2020.
We extend our congratulations to Lola Parsons Burns and Mia De Melo- Morton, both in Year 8, who were successful in Orange at the football trials on Thursday. Both students were selected to be in the Open Women’s Football Team for Western Associated Schools (WAS) This is a huge accolade for them, especially as they are in Year 8! They will play in the Australian Independent Co-educational Schools Tournament schools (AICES) in May.
Being Organised can Alleviate Stress
As we near the end of Term 1, students in the high school are submitting their projects and work, and Year 11 and 12 students are finalising their Year 11 Courses in this cycle of subjects. They will sit their exams in the first week of Term 2. The most important aspect of this time for our students is how they are managing to organise themselves in order to complete their tasks on time. Planning in advance, looking at assessment schedules and creating timelines in the lead up to the submission of tasks will alleviate unnecessary stress. We wish to remind you all that teachers are available to assist where students need extra scaffolding, and that every morning from 9.00-11.30 the Hub, in the library, is staffed for this purpose. It is also a place where students who have completed tasks early are offered extension activities.
Year 6 Students & Parents visit our Sister School in Hangzhou over Easter
The final countdown is on for five families as well as Bec, Elise, Kizz, and Bing as they prepare for their tour to China. On Thursday evening the tour group met with to finalise arrangements with Jenny, their tour guide. They will leave Sydney on Wednesday 17thand return Wednesday 24thof April.
The visit includes attending classes in calligraphy, woodwork, 3-d printing, paper-rolling, Chinese painting, table tennis and ocarina at our Sister School in the 3rdDistrict of Hangzhou. The group’s accommodation includes hotel and homestay arrangements, and the range of activities should prove to provide great insight into many aspects of Chinese culture. The tour includes visits to tea, art and pottery museums, the West Lake, Hefang Old Street, then catching a fast train to Shanghai and visiting the Bund, the Old City God’s temple, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, and Disneyland Park. It is a whirlwind tour over 7 days, and excitement is growing. We look forward to seeing photos and hearing stories in the near future.
Trip to Nepal
Also this week, Barbara Hall held an information session on her intended trip to Nepal in December. This is open to any members of the Korowal community so if you want to know more, please contact the School office and we can email you the information. Final numbers will need to be sealed soon.
Apart from all of these significant events, life at Korowal continues to be rich everyday as our students smile their toothless smiles, run up for hugs, throw their bodies around in laughter, gallop around the playground, sit and chat, dash about the ball court, ask profound questions, and we all learn through our errors. Why would you be anywhere else?
May you have a great final week. We know that the junior high school is looking forward to their excursion to the Royal Easter show on Friday!
A Window with a View
Week 8, Term 1, 2019
Performance letdown can occur when a performance or season is over, and is sometimes seen as sadness or even depression. It is due to the physiological changes our bodies are undergoing, from a heightened alert state in rehearsals and performance, to a normal one. We can experience fatigue, sadness, irritability and meaninglessness. Hopefully this state is short lived, and talking about it helps. It really assists to know that it is a normal process for us to experience this change, however if it continues into next week, we ask that you or your child lets us know, and we will then arrange to offer further support.
Oracy at Korowal
We are now in a position to announce that Korowal is working closely with Oracy Cambridge to develop an Oracy program that will range from Kindy to Year 12. Currently Louise, Elise and I are working with Cambridge University on a program for Years 5, 6 and 7, and we will welcome Alan Howe to our school for a month in October to further work alongside staff and assist us to develop a school-wide approach. Elise began layering exercises into her program for Years 5& 6 last year and continues to do so this year. Louise and I are taking Oracy classes two hours per week with Year 7 this term.
What is Oracy and why are we placing value on developing these skills?
Throughout the curriculum, much time is brought to developing the skills of Literacy and Numeracy. Yet the process of learning at the formative stage and the presentation of ideas at the summative stage do not always involve the written word. A lot of our time is spent talking. But is this talk effective and efficient? Over time we have noticed a deterioration in skills we once took for granted, and a developing anxiety in many students when they are required to give an oral presentation.
Recent research into ‘Future Skills’ highlights the need for a revision of our approaches to skill building in schools, and two of these are highlighted below.
'There is an increasing need for ‘Social and emotional, or so-called “soft skills”: these include advanced communication and negotiation, empathy, the ability to learn continuously, to manage others and to be adaptable. Business development, programming, emergency response and counselling require these skills’
Three skills for workers 2030- World Economic Forum. weforum.org
Dr Marion Steel, the Course Director for the Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University, explains:
“soft skills are taking those innate human qualities, such as communication, interaction, creativity, innovation, etc. and developing these so you can apply them effectively in the workforce.
Communication, for example: we often just think of our ability to talk to other human beings. But if you look at any organisation today, you’ll see that we communicate with each other face-to-face, via standard communication channels like email, and often on shared or collaborative work platforms as well. So we’re actually seeing that because of the way we work, we need to have communication skills face-to-face, but also be able to communicate really effectively in an online environment.
This includes knowing how formal communication works, what informal communication is and when it’s appropriate to use, and how to communicate goals and achievements to people ‘in a different time zone or region,’
When it comes to working harmoniously with others, these are the soft skills Dr Steel says you need:
• problem solving
Thus, at Korowal, in order to experience the program and its impact, we have conducted our own observational research internally and visited schools in England where Oracy is being prioritised. These ‘soft skills’ can be directly taught and exercised.
At Korowal this Oracy Program intends to bring focus to developing the students’ ability to speak and listen, and to involve the students and the teachers in dialogic teaching through ongoing whole class conversations with one another around a learning topic. In our Oracy classes we are engaging in exercises to understand the power of voice modulation, tone, volume, emphasis, pace, intention. We encourage the formulation and sharing of ideas, the imperative to listen to other opinions, and to solve problems through participation in conversation. We use formal and informal situations. We want our students to experience their right to hold an opinion, their right to be heard, and to give others their due respect through listening with an open mind and responding without putdown. As the program develops we intend to integrate these exercises into all subjects so that they become embedded in our curriculum across the School.
Already with Year 7 we are all witnessing a growing awareness and consciousness around the individual in the group, the impact we have on each other, where there are dominant voices and reluctant participants, while also enjoying the students’ curiosity at the possibility of developing these skills. It is early days yet, but we have enough evidence of the significance of an Oracy program for our School to invest in an arrangement with Oracy Cambridge. They are as excited to be working with us as we are with them! It is well aligned with our School values and relevant in preparing our students for respectful communications and a dynamic work future.
Safety for all
As we move into week 9 we send a reminder about pickup times and the traffic in the turning circle. High school students are to be picked up from 3.30pm. Please avoid coming earlier as it causes traffic issues with the volume of vehicles entering and exiting. Please also refrain from parking outside of the turning circle, on verges or secondary roads leading to the hall, as this blocks the school buses.
Thanks for your ongoing support,
A Window with a View
Week 7, Term 1, 2019
Throughout Week 7 we sang our hearts out. We entertained around 450 students, parents and friends with our ‘Cabarette’ across Thursday and Friday evenings. We extend our congratulations to all who participated, our Director Helena Zadro-Jones, Musical Director Kim Poole, as well as student, staff and parent helpers, for a successful and celebratory show. The students shone!
Our primary and high school audience was such a delight on Thursday. The spontaneity and joy they expressed was a gift to the performers and audience alike. The students on stage felt like rock stars! It is such a brave move to nominate to perform in front of peers, and we acknowledge every single performer for their courage to play, or sing, or dance, or contort, or assist to light or stage manage, in front of the school. Thank you for giving us the gift of entertainment.
Celebrating our Staff - Visual & Performing Artists
Following on now from the previous two ‘Window with a View’ postings about the talent and depth of educational experience within our staff, today we move on to look at the artists within.
Hopefully you experienced this in some way and therefore witnessed some of the talent. Kim Poole was our Musical Director and arranger for all the songs performed, and the band were exceptional, with students moving in and out for various numbers. Kim brought the staff together following a drive from Deb, Maria and the two Lisa’s to have the teachers perform Abba’s ‘Super Trooper ‘this year. Eleven of us got on stage but fifteen of us rehearsed and had a fabulous time singing together. We also enjoyed being told what to do and where to stand by students, and being reprimanded for laughing too loudly!
Not one to sing his own praises, you will have observed our English and History teacher, Greg Brooks, on stage at our Cabarette playing sax with the students. Greg is a regular in our School Jazz band, Neill’s Armee. He is also a DJ around the mountains and Sydney. A great talent!
Andy Medina also performed a solo and was a member of the staff group in Super Trooper. Andy is a recent graduate of the Australian Institute of Music (AIM), and has just started teaching singing through our Korowal Studios program. He is going to bring much joy to the students.
Korowal Studios is where Neill Duncan also teaches sax, clarinet, keyboard and drums, and from where our ‘Neill’s Armee’ Jazz band emerged. Neill is well known to the Mountains community for his remarkable talents as a musician for over 30 years, and more recently as a one-armed sax player and inspirational musician. Our students and staff benefit from the talents, compassion and generosity of this wonderful man. Last year he and the band recorded their first CD and are wanting to launch it with a bigband evening at Korowal later this year. The musical confidence exhibited by some of our musicians can be attributed to their experience in Neill’s Armee.
As we have begun to promote our staff more publically, many parents have recently commented that they had no idea of the depth of experience or richness that the adults within our community bring to their positions. We also have visual artists working with our students and briefly we will introduce some of these talents to you today.
Anne Mashall and Andrew Ireland are both our high school art teachers, and together they do remarkable works for us in our high school. They have guided our students to great things and are the talent behind our students’ works being exhibited in ‘Art Express’, HSC exemplars Exhibit. Printmaking is Anne’s joy, but she can guide any hand to excel in the art form of their choice. When needed, Anne just whips up props for School shows. She is less public with her art practice and declined the invitation to share here, but Anne was responsible for the fabulous fractured fairytales book that we used as a projection screen in Cabarette and with Andrew, assisted with the Grease Lightening red car!
Prior to teaching, Andrew Ireland was a Staff Cartoonist/ Illustrator with the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review, Times on Sunday, Sunday as well as a freelance illustrator. He was awarded ‘Black and White/ Bulletin Humorous Illustrator 1990, and has been Artist Lecturer (Tertiary Level) at Sydney College of the Arts, Billy Blue Design School, Sydney Graphics College and U.T.S.
Andrew’s Solo exhibitions have been seen at Rex Irwin Gallery-Sydney, E5 Gallery- Verona, Southern Gallery- Rome, EMR studios, Hat Hill Gallery -Blackheath.
From 1999 through to the present Andrew remains a practising artist while being a part-time teaching Art, Design and Technology. But wait, there’s more! Andrew is also a freelance musician for various bands.
Talulah Vane is a Korowal Graduate and now, our primary art teacher, as well as visual artist. Following the completion of a first-class Honours degree in Fine Arts Talulah received Australian Post-Graduate Award and undertook Doctoral studies at UNSW in Fine Arts, examining the shift from analogue to digital photography and memory. In addition to her experience as a general classroom teacher she has worked as a specialist art teacher in primary and high schools, and university.
Talulah’s recent works include site-specific installations, photography and sculptures created with silk, steel, automotive paint and found natural objects. She has recently exhibited at Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, The Woodford Academy and North Contemporary Art Space. Her works often extend from stories that reach through generations; and her love of 1970’s muscle cars. Our students are the beneficiaries of her vast experience and passion.
Felicity Moekel-Hughes is our library assistant, and cherished by all. She attended Art School, majoring in Printmaking, with a double sub-major in literature and art history. From there she began working in Libraries, while painting for galleries in Bowral, and donating much of my work to charity for fund-raising. While she still paints and draws, she has always loved words. Felicity has now completed three young adult books in a series, with the fourth underway, with words of lore, language and back-stories, maps, diagrams and genealogy lines.
Quietly moving around us all, is Alex Smithers, our maintenance manager, lab assistant and sometimes bus driver. While she can fix almost any problem, would you have known that Alex is a retired Physics teacher, who took the leap into writing fiction over 10 years ago? A number of her short stories have been published in print and online. Alex’s passion for science and superheros inspired her debut Young Adults Sci-fi novel, Wraith, released in July 2018 (and found in any good bookstore), and it is a terrific read. It is also in our school library.
Not wanting to disappoint her readers, she is now working on Wraith’s sequel, but only when we aren’t crying out- ‘where’s Alex? We need her!’
As you see, our staff are exploding with creativity and passion, and we harness this to be educators, to lead others to an understanding of their talents and skills because we value the child’s right to experience process- to play, to experiment, to explore, to ask ‘why’ and ‘how come’.
Before signing off, also wish to acknowledge our students who followed their passions to attend the Climate Change rallies in Springwood and Sydney on Friday, as well as those who chose to stay at school because they had made a commitment to being here for the Cabarette, and felt that they may not have returned in time.
Let us support them in the endeavor to ‘become the changes they seek to see in the world’.
A Window With a View
Week 6, Term 1, 2019
As we ended Week 6 of our term we opened our School to welcome new families to meet our staff, see the School, have questions answered, and also be shown around by some of our Year 10 student guides at our Information Morning on Saturday. This is an active time of the year particularly for people exploring options for Kindergarten, Year 7, and HSC, all key points of transition in a student’s life. We also met with people who are just looking for somewhere less pressured and more focussed on process than test results. We were fortunate to have a recent graduate James Campbell working for us at the information table, plus current students, to speak frankly of their own experiences of Korowal.
Thank you to all of the staff who made this day most enjoyable.
On Friday for International Women’s Day I had the pleasure of attending ‘The Women of The West Awards’ at Homebush, as a guest of ANZ women. The Hon Julie Bishop was the guest speaker, and is an impressive woman who has created a pathway through halls of power and held her own at tables amongst the world’s leaders. Regardless of party politics, her message to all women and men is that ‘no nation will meet its full potential until it fully embraces the 50% of people that are female. Women and men complement each other’.
From her experience, gender deafness is real, and having been the only woman present in rooms of suited men, she can categorically state that the men responded differently when hearing themselves to hearing her sole woman’s voice. Ms Bishop encouraged women to mentor each other, for in so doing we strengthen our resolve and build our self- confidence. ‘It need not take 80 years for the growth rate of Senior female executives to meet parity with men*. We can make this happen from today’.
*Gender Equity Insights 2019: Breaking through the Glass Ceiling. 2019 Research conducted by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre in WA
The lingering messages from all of the women receiving awards for services to community on Friday, as well as from Julie Bishop, was to ‘not let others define who you are’, and to ensure that we mentor each other. To make it easier, not harder, for other women.
Speaking as Principal for our beautiful School, where we work consciously to develop authentic relationships and model respect, it is important that we also look into our own shadows and challenge each other for any biases that we may hold. We have open and honest young men and women around us each day, and a responsibility to nurture their passions and talents equally, and to encourage their voices.
On that note, we have a display of talents ready to entertain you on Thursday and Friday evening from 7.00pm at our ‘Cabarette’. Even the staff are frocking up this year for a special musical number driven by the passions of Deb and Caroline in the School office. They have brought us together and we have all laughed a lot. The proof is in the pudding!
While this week in this post, I was intending to write Part 3 of our Introduction to our Staff. I will postpone this until next week and instead, invite you to come and see the talents on stage this week. Students and staff will entertain you. Tickets to our ‘Cabarette’ are available through phoning the Office on 47587466 from 8.30am -4.30pm Mon-Wed.
May your voice be heard by those around you.
A Window with a View
Week 5, Term 1, 2019
Swimming Carnivals & Community BBQ
In Week 5 we just managed to capture days warm enough for us to enjoy the
Primary and High School Swimming Carnivals. Once again, the students entered
these with a great sense of fun and cheered each other along to achieve some
personal bests. While the range of swimming ability is diverse, from noodle racing
through to regional swimming records, the commitment to having a go is
We wish to extend a special thank you to Kizz for her fine organisation of these
events, as well as her enthusiasm and ease in directing staff and students.
We also extend thanks to everyone who helped make our Community BBQ on
Friday evening a relaxing picnic, to Talulah for driving it, the parents who made the
salads and platters of fruit, cooked and prepped, and cleaned up, the children,
parents and staff who shared in the frivolity.
Our next celebration will be the Cabarette on Thursday 14 th and Friday 15 th March.
This is a mini-Cabaret with a range of musical numbers and animations created by
our students. The staff may even have an act!
Celebrating our Staff
Now, continuing our theme of celebrating our staff and sharing their professional
stories, this week we have Part 2, where we introduce you to the two and a half
Doctors we have on staff, (not of the prescription writing type). We introduce you to Dr Louise Dungate, Dr Kim Poole and Doctoral Student Alistair Symons.
Dr Louise Dungate has now been with us at Korowal for ten years. Throughout her
doctoral research, Louise explored how teacher’s interactions with young children
affect their wellbeing and involvement. While completing her doctorate, and working
part-time at Korowal, Louise taught in Teacher Education at Macquarie Uni. She
completed her Doctorate in 2015. In 2018, Louise was awarded a scholarship by
Doshisha- Kyoto University to attend an Intensive Japanese Fluency Immersion
Course, which she attended and completed in June-July.
Louise has taught across every age group, and at Korowal, teaches Japanese to
Kindy through to HSC. Working in early childhood since the 70s, Louise started a
Masters in London and taught in London primary schools in the early 80s. On her
return to Australia she became an early childhood specialist, working for the federal
government by advising on best educational practice. Louise was a writer of the
Australian Teaching Standards for Early Childhood. It was during her second degree
that Louise studied Japanese.
‘My son started at Korowal in 2000, so I knew about what the school offered. I
wanted to work in the Korowal teaching team because of the strong emphasis on
relationships and the collegiality’.
Louise taught Primary and a little High School Japanese at Blue Mountains Grammar for nine years prior to joining us at Korowal. Louise currently coordinates the staff teaching praxis at Korowal and together, Louise and I are engaged in a professional development project that plans to develop stronger oracy skills in students.
Dr Kim Poole is our resident Music Teacher, composer, arranger and orchestrator. Currently Kim’s professional development includes arranging music for the school and his teaching, as well as for orchestras to play. Kim gets great satisfaction from seeing and hearing professionals realise his orchestrations.
Kim commenced his PhD program after completing his MMus (Hons), writing a
doctoral thesis that was ethnomusicological in terms of methodology and focus. His
studies started at the Conservatorium where he focused on the idea of high school
music teaching within a BMusEd. It was here Kim discovered his passion for
While working on his doctorate, Kim began teaching at tertiary institutions. First at
UNSW, before having a tenured position at WSU (then UWS) where he taught
performance (improvisation, ensembles, concert prep etc), theory (composition,
analysis, aural training) and musicology (ethnomusicological focus) - across about
‘I did some casual teaching over a year or so at Korowal and found there was a lot I
liked about the philosophy of the school, in particular the way it fostered a different
kind of teacher-student relationship - more like what I was familiar with in my uni
teaching, and more like what I had known as a high school student myself with my
teachers in secondary college in the ACT’.
‘On paper I would have looked ridiculously over-qualified and woefully under-
experienced in terms of teaching in school. What I felt straight away when Mark
interviewed me for a primary position was that he was simply getting a sense of me
as a person who was interested in teaching, and my character, not getting caught up
with my qualifications and presuming I was an 'academic' who was going to be out of touch with teenagers. So Korowal was literally the first school to take a shot with me’.
The rest is history as Kim clocked his 10 Year anniversary last year, and continues
to teach classroom music from Year 3 through to HSC., as well as arrange and
musically direct shows. He always strikes the right chord with the age group. He is
Being a Doctoral student, Alistair Symons joined Korowal in 2018 as the High School Coordinator/Deputy Principal.
‘The most appealing aspect of the role is the opportunity to work with teachers to
deliver an engaging curriculum that is mutually beneficial and rewarding for both
students and staff’. Alistair was attracted to many things at the School, including the beautiful grounds and heritage buildings filled with history and character.
Prior to this position, Alistair worked in four secondary schools, where he was Head
of Department and Head of Curriculum. He was also Director of Learning and Teaching at a national university, responsible for implementing evidence based best classroom practice such as the 'Flipped Classroom' model.
Alistair commenced his doctorate in that role and his research continues in the area
of school effectiveness and improvement. He is investigating how school leaders and
teachers improve educational outcomes for all students. He will be contributing new
knowledge to the literature by interviewing Korowal teachers about their pedagogical
practices and leadership of learning in their discipline.
There is so much happening behind the scene that enrichens our School community.
Most importantly, we are people together, supporting each other, laughing, mindful of
May you have a powerful week.
A Window with a View
Week 4, Term 1, 2019
As we continue smoothly through our first term of school for 2019, we have begun reflecting upon our uniqueness in the educational sector. Together we will celebrate our community on Friday afternoon 1st March at the Community BBQ.
This week I again visited John Marsden’s Alice Miller School in Macedon, Victoria. John introduced me to the assembly as Principal of ‘a school like theirs’. We appreciate our association, which started in 2016 with our first ‘Impressions’ Conversation. We have been sharing ideas and discussing potential joint ventures, and Monday’s visit was a further conversation in that domain. It is too soon to go into any detail, but it’s invigorating to share our concerns for our students and teachers and look towards creating opportunities that inspire.
We share concern that schools are under ever increasing pressure, and it’s not the teaching experience in the classroom so much as the documentation and administration that are changing the focus. Teachers’ workloads are potentially destroying their passion for the very thing they entered the profession to do - to lead students towards an understanding, to create moments of wonder, to challenge thinking, to build skills for independent learning and to be in harmony with their class.
I am prompted to write about our teachers after a conversation with a parent who has taken a year away from the teaching profession to breathe, and to reprioritise. In the five years she has been teaching, the work load steadily increased to the point where she was running the entire time, always stressed that an incident hadn’t been written up or that she had not had time to reply to a parent; just catching up on marking, programming and reading new texts in the term breaks before the intensity started again. There was no reprieve.
We need to look after teachers! Our teachers are remarkable and we celebrate them today. At Korowal, we listen keenly to our staff and work collegially as much as possible to share concerns and support each other.
We also prioritise opportunities for staff professional development and connections and for a small school, we have much to celebrate in this area. It is time to let you know of more about some wonderful people we work with and who teach your children, and share their professional story of 2019. Here is insight into four of our colleagues, with more to come in the following weeks.
Jason Carthew - High School
Jason is our IT coordinator. He is our HSC Multi-Media, Elective Multi-Media, Technology Mandatory teacher and takes our primary Coding Club.
Jason runs teacher and pupil inservices and training sessions for NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA). This term he is involved in ‘Shape’ seminars, presenting exemplary works from HSC marking 2018. Jason also assists with presenting HSC Marking Guidelines for Year 12 Industrial Technology, and consulted in the development of the new Australian NSW Curriculum for Technology Mandatory.
Andy O’Doherty - High School
Andy is new to our staff and teaches HSC Biology and Chemistry, junior Science and Maths. Andy sits on the NESA HSC Biology Exam Committee and is attending sessions currently. She is a Senior Marker for HSC Chemistry and has been invited by NESA to write questions for HSC Chemistry papers.
Bec Finch - Primary School
Bec is our Primary Coordinator and Deputy Principal. She also shares the Year 6 class teacher role.
Bec is undertaking the AIS Flagship Program in 2019. This is a rigorous, holistic, twelve-month program for senior leaders and aspirant principals in the independent educational sector. It contributes 25% towards a Masters in Educational Leadership.
‘It blends theory and practice, provides hands on experience in leading school-wide change, develops knowledge and skills needed for successful senior leadership, and addresses both the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and Australian Professional Standards for Principals - standards which are applied to emerging and current Principals and members of a school executive’. AIS NSW.
Sarah Farrell Whelan - Whole School Wellbeing
Sarah is a Senior Social Worker and our Wellbeing Coordinator and is engaged in Open Dialogue Training. Developed in Finland in the 1980’s, Open Dialogue invites a person experiencing distress or with mental health concerns, and their network, to come together to talk. It is a meeting of minds to explore all of the perspectives on the situation or crisis at hand.
As Sarah reflects: ‘I believe that there has been minimal cross over at this time between Open Dialogue practices within Health and The Education system. This seems to be a loss for our students, their families and school staff. The ethos, practices and philosophy of Open Dialogue are so fitting to the welfare and wellbeing of schools, particularly Korowal. It fits beautifully with our Restorative Practice model.’
In 2017 Open Dialogue Training commenced in Sydney, through a partnership between Sydney University and St Vincent’s Hospital with Finish trainers for the first time. This Training has been offered to a very selective group of clinicians who have been part of an Open Dialogue study and Sarah is one of the 12 students. This Psychotherapy Training and Trainers Training will go over 3 years, and it is now in its second year. It is the first of its kind in Australia.
Our values of kindness and respect attract staff who want to work at Korowal, and we are the beneficiaries of their expertise and care. We have so much to be grateful for.
May we remember gratitude as we step forward into our new week.
A 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
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!
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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.