Principal's report

17 November 2016

Dear Parents and Guardians,

New Deputy Principal – Mr Mark Williamson

As many would be aware, at the end of 2017 Mr Maurice Di Muzio’s contract as Deputy Principal concludes. In assessing the future needs of the school and providing Maurice with an opportunity to experience leadership in different areas, Marist Schools Australia has recommended the early appointment of a new Deputy Principal – Wellbeing to ensure a smooth transition. Next year Maurice will be Deputy Principal – Human Resources.

Following an extensive process, Mr Mark Williamson has been appointed Deputy Principal – Wellbeing, responsible for student wellbeing and behaviour support. Mark is a dedicated Catholic educator who is currently Innovation Coordinator at Padua College, Mornington. He has previously undertaken leadership roles at St John’s College, Dandenong and the Oslo International School in Norway. He comes to us as a highly respected leader of student wellbeing, digital technologies and Catholic identity. He has completed post graduate studies in student wellbeing and is undertaking a Masters in International Education. He is a teacher of digital technologies, religious education and VCAL. His referees refer to him as a person of outstanding integrity and positive energy. Mark is highly respected for his work in developing school culture and for aligning schools with the needs of 21st-century students. He is an advocate of restorative practices, which you would be aware is a new focus for Assumption from 2017. Mark is looking forward to the ongoing improvement and development of the wellbeing, behaviour support and pastoral care of the students, staff and parents of ACK. I look forward to welcoming Mark and his family to our school community in 2017.

New positions of leadership

In the second half of 2016, we have gone through the regular three-yearly process of determining the best leadership structure for our school to ensure that our strategic goals can be met. With new goals on the horizon and an emphasis on ensuring that our leaders are supported to enact changes, some new people have been appointed to new leadership roles. We have created three new senior roles: Leader of Professional Practice (Leadership Team), which will be ably filled by John McKay; Senior Leader (Years 10-12, including VCE Coordination) which will be undertaken by Sasha Willmann, who previously taught here and is at Hume Anglican Grammar, and Middle Leader (Years 7-9) filled by Peter Augustin. Our house leaders remain mostly unchanged, however, due to the promotions listed above, we congratulate Shona Maskelyne who will lead Frayne House, and new staff member Kerrin Smith who will lead Damian House. You will receive a full list of positions of leadership and an explanation of their responsibilities with the family handbook at the start of next year.

Honouring students – awards and celebration evening

Next Thursday evening we gather as a full school community, students, parents and staff, to celebrate the many student achievements of 2016. For those who haven’t been along before, it’s a lovely night for catching up with other members of our Assumption family, and reminding ourselves of the terrific gifts and talents our young people are bringing into the world through their academic, sporting and leadership pursuits. I look forward to seeing you there.

Honouring staff – Marist Schools Australia award

Each year Marist Schools Australia hosts an annual dinner to acknowledge the outstanding work of staff within Marist schools. This year, one of our own, Maureen Kurzman, will be celebrated for her dedication and care of Assumption students and staff since 1989.

As many of you would know from personal experience, Maureen is an extremely supportive and thoughtful educator. Her students are well aware that they are known and cared for, and the families she works with feel valued and respected. She has provided care and support to hundreds if not thousands of troubled students, and assisted them with their re-integration into their friendship groups, families or the school environment. She has led Assumption with quiet dignity and faith through many bereavements, showing a sensitivity and compassion that is inspirational and life-giving. Her support of staff in dealing with personal, family or professional problems is also tireless. She is a humble problem-solver and when all else might fail, is a trusted shoulder to cry on.

Maureen is taking a well-deserved break next year, and we look forward to her return in 2018, knowing her presence in our community is precious to us all.

Our teachers are setting a great example

Congratulations to Terry Cooney and Jessica Flavell, who completed Masters in Educational Leadership this year. Tonya Frost completed post-graduate studies in careers education, and Jenny Buckingham completed her CPA qualification. Ursula Linke, Yanna Jephson, John McKay and Luke Hamilton have been working towards Masters (in a variety of fields), and in 2017 will be joined by another 14 teachers who have enrolled in masters courses, and a couple intend to complete doctorates. We look forward to sharing in their learning and having many, many more teachers who are experienced in the most recent and appropriate content and teaching methodologies for 21st-century students.

Getting ready for Advent

In two weeks, we begin our preparations for Christmas. Advent is the time of “expectant waiting”, where we give over some of our prayer and meditation time to considering the ways that we can prepare ourselves anew to celebrate the amazing story of God becoming human in the form of a newborn child. This sacred time of preparation can easily get gazumped by the business of end-of-year events and the need to get things done. The Advent calendar is one way that many people try to carve out some quiet time to reflect on their personal character and plan to do things differently. As Marists, the crib is one of our sacred places. We imagine ourselves heading to Bethlehem to meet the promised one, to gather with Mary and Joseph and to dream of how the future might be better again that what it is today – more loving, more peaceful and more joyful.

Loving God, before our hearts and minds race away with us each day, give us the strength and courage to give some time to you. Change our habits and our words so that we might encourage others to find peace and joy in the world, and lift our spirits, so that it might always be said of us, as it was said of the first Christians “see how they love one another”. Amen.