As I look back on the year we have had and where it is leading us for 2018, I am reminded of Martin Luther King’s words: “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
Last week, one the staff members who is leaving us at the end of this year asked me what I was looking forward to and what I was excited about as I looked forward to the year and years ahead at Swan. I suspect he regretted asking the question because it took quite some time before he could escape from my office.
Strategic Plan 2018-2020
The documenting and publishing of our Strategic Plan and our strategic intentions for the next three years has been a major focus this year. It has been very worthwhile to revisit who we are and document where we want to go next. It was a challenge to describe our identity with clarity and using concise language. I don’t believe we have changed who we are, rather, we have restated it. In the end we simply said We are a Christ-centered and student-centered school with a focus on excellence. Now, while there has been some discussion about using the word centered twice, I believe it describes what Swan has been and wants to continue to be. We are Christ centered, we are student centered and we all seek to value the striving for excellence.
We also examined the strategies we wanted to implement in the next three years and we considered these in terms of our People, our Community and our Place and thereby acknowledging our responsibilities as “we seek to engage and grow the talents of all in our College, care for our resources and build our community for today and for future generations.”
Currently, we have several working groups developing more specific action plans to guide us through the implementation of these strategies. I am encouraged that there are staff, students and parents having input to these plans. I am confident that most of these will be complete and published by the end of Term 1 2018.
The roads at Swan are a source of anguish for us all from time to time (and sometimes all the time during peak periods). This year, we commissioned a review by traffic consultants Cardno and many of you would have seen them monitoring the traffic flow earlier in the year. This continues to be a frustratingly slow process, but progress has been made this year. We have progressed to a point where a meeting was held last month in at the Main Roads Department where we were able to consult with all the stakeholders.
We came out of that meeting with some intentions on three levels: short term, medium term and long term. The medium and short-term plans will see major change internally and on the Great Northern Highway. As a short-term improvement, we will be implementing a trial period next year with traffic flow into and through the College travelling in one direction, not two as it does at present. We are currently waiting for a traffic consultant to complete the proposal which will then be sent for approval by Main Roads before being implemented. We expect approvals to be in place for the start of 2018 and will be communicating with all who drive into the College as well as putting up signage on the highway.
Developments, Opportunities and Progress
Swan Christian College has long had an excellent arts performance culture. To further foster and encourage students to develop and express themselves through the arts, the College has welcomed a Head of Instrumental Music, Mr Andrew Raymond, who will be focusing on enhancing the music and performance opportunities available for our children as they progress through the College. Our drama teacher, Ms Jane Hille has launched the Fenceline Theatre Company in the College and the first production was enjoyed by many of us a couple of weeks ago. We look forward to the performances already being planned for next year.
Under the leadership of the Head of Middle School, Mrs Christine Crump, our Middle School continues to grow and provide opportunities for students to flourish. The College has commenced planning for a building to house the Year 7-9 students in the future. As present and past students would know, these 500 + students have for many years worked from demountable buildings at the back of the College and, while teachers have been very creative in their use of those buildings, there can be no doubt the buildings themselves are very limiting
Learning spaces need to be outstanding places for learning and there needs to be a focus on contemporary, fit for purpose, learning environments. Students and teachers should have buildings that facilitate the joy of learning.
In conjunction with our architect, the Middle School leadership team have been exploring the philosophy of Middle Schooling at Swan Christian College and are seeking to develop a convergence of pedagogy, curriculum design and learning spaces with the intention of creating flexible learning spaces that permit the development of 21st century learning and age-appropriate pedagogy to be integrated successfully into authentic classroom experiences. It will be exciting to see the design brief that emerges from this next year. I am encouraged by the words of the 19th Century evangelist Dwight L. Moody who said: “If God is your partner, make your plans Big”.
The Deputy Principal, Mr Terry Eason, has led a review of pastoral care in Middle and Senior School this year. This has resulted in some significant developments for next year and students will find that they have smaller PC groups where all students are the same age and are members of the same House. It is anticipated that the introduction of significant staff leadership roles, where each year will have its own Dean of Year who will travel with them as they progress through the College, will result in improved care for all our students.
Mention must be made of our Service Learning program which Mr Ray Hockley has led and which is now embedded in the learning for all students in the College. As students progress through the College, involved in these programs, it is hoped that they develop a caring and Christian servant heart. I am particularly pleased that our programs are increasingly engaging with the needy communities in our own country and I look forward to students participating in three trips to aboriginal schools and communities in 2018.
There is so much more to celebrate and when you sit down to read the 2017 yearbook, you will again be reminded how rich and diverse the opportunities available in the College are for each child. It is fascinating to consider the journey a child takes at Swan from Kindergarten to Year 12 and see the various experiences our children encounter and have opportunities to engage with as they travel through the College.
Acknowledgements and Giving Thanks
At Awards Night, we celebrated the achievements of some of our students. I congratulate them on their success. I also want to acknowledge and celebrate all our students who have achieved much this year and there are so many of you. It is a great joy for a teacher and parent to see your progress and it is even better to see the sense of satisfaction you have in your success. It is probably also pertinent to remind you that the celebrated author Mark Twain once said; “the dictionary is the only place where success comes before work”.
Now it is time to thank the people at the centre of the learning process which is, after all, our core business. To the staff of Swan Christian College, I say thank you for all that they do and the Christian love with which you look after each student. Students, don’t forget to thank your teachers. My thanks also to the office and support staff who work so hard to ensure that the teachers can get on with their teaching. I must also thank the maintenance staff who work so hard to ensure that the grounds and buildings are attractive and ready for each day. You are a valued part of our College.
I don’t often single out staff, but this time I am going to make an exception. Martin Thyer has been an integral part of Swan Christian College since it commenced. Although he will not be lost to SCEA, this year’s Awards Night was his last Awards Night as a staff member at Swan Christian College. Martin, on behalf of all who have benefited from your wisdom, your patience and your counsel over the years and, on behalf of all who have gone before me, a heartfelt thank you and best wishes.
I must thank the College Executive team for your support, your encouragement, your wisdom and your vision. I as Principal and the College as a whole are very blessed to have you leading the day to day operations here at Swan.
Thank you also to my PA, Mrs Natalee Friend who seems to always know where I am and provides wonderful consistent support.
The Parent Committee at Swan has grown into a vibrant, supportive and enthusiastic support group for the College. I must thank Board member, Mr Ken Carter, for his efforts in helping me rebuild this group when I first started here. Mrs Susan Luce now chairs the Parent Committee and I am blessed to have the opportunity to consult with them and receive very considered and valuable advice. The parent fundraising group, working with the parent committee has made a significant contribution to the College this year installing shade sails in the amphitheatre, big robust fans in the gym, bolstering our drum corps resources and our Junior School lunchtime sporting equipment. Thank you for this wonderful support.
To all parents, who trust us with the education of your child I say thank you. It is an awesome responsibility. In this time of increasing social breakdown and our joint concerns for the welfare of our young people, we will continue to work with you and support you to ensure your child has the best possible opportunities to be the best they can be.
Let me share with you one of my favourite passages from the Bible. In Isaiah 40: 28-31 I read
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
We want every one of the children entrusted to us to soar on wings like eagles. Let us all continue together towards that goal.
So, to conclude, I wish you all, students, staff, parents, board members and friends – our Swan Christian College family - a peaceful, restful and Holy Christmas for 2017.
Mr Adrian Scott