One of the things that still amazes me about our climate is the way Autumn just seems to arrive overnight. Whilst we are still getting warm days (sometimes even quite hot days), the nights are cooler and there is often dew on the grass in the mornings. With the change of the seasons, comes a change in our own beings as we “come in” from the summer experience of being out in the cosmos (think of the bbqs, parties, camps, travel and social life of the summer months). As we start the movement back in towards the quieter, more reflective times of winter, we often can feel a little unsettled as we “meet ourselves” again and have to deal with our thoughts and feelings, and reflections about ourselves and others.
As teachers, we often find Autumn a time when there are playground disputes and flare-ups and when social relationships between children can be a bit tested. The teachers in the primary school work with this by sharing stories with the children which demonstrate courage and the finding of strength and integrity to do what is right and good (the story of St George and the Dragon is a good example of this). As adults we can lead by example, trying to find our own courage, integrity and strength to deal with the issues that confront and unsettle us. This is truly an interesting, sometimes challenging time of the year and one that offers great opportunities for growth and learning.
This week I hosted a morning tea for our Year 12 students. It was lovely to spend some time with our senior students, chatting about their studies and their experiences as they move towards their last months at the school. I am struck by their maturity and the way they hold the lovely balance between confidence in who they are and uncertainty, excitement and determination as they move towards the end of their days at Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School.
After our unexpected long weekend, it was really lovely to get back to a full week of school with some sunshine to help. Whilst the rain on Friday was not quite as heavy as expected (thankfully) there were still a number of families and teachers who experienced flooding near their homes. We will always take the advice of the local SES and the AIS when it comes to predicted severe weather events and, in the case of last week, the advice was very clearly to close for the day.
In the last week I have been fortunate enough to attend two High School events where our students have had opportunities to show leadership. The Swimming Carnival provides many opportunities for students to demonstrate leadership, sportsmanship and camaraderie. Congratulations to those Year 12 students particularly, who came along to the carnival, participated fully and showed a fine example for the younger students. I know that several of the students had important assignments due, but still turned up and put in a great effort. The other event I attended was the High School Assembly. Our senior students usually host the assemblies and do so with wonderful poise and humour.
Finally, it is great to see so many parents attending class meetings across all levels of the school. These meetings are such an important avenue for communication between teachers and parents and help to keep the partnerships between school and home strong. Our teachers put quite a bit of work into preparing for the meetings and I know they are always pleased to see a good turn-out.
The newsletter is coming to you a bit early this week as we have had to make the decision to close the school tomorrow (Friday) due to a forecasted severe weather event with heavy rains and flash flooding predicted. It is not an easy decision to close the whole school down for a day, however we have been advised by both the SES and the AIS that this is what we should do. Safety will always be at the forefront of school decisions and, in this case, the safer decision is not to have our children out on the roads tomorrow. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause parents and hope you all stay safe and dry tomorrow.
We do have a Year 8 camp due to head out next week. Katie, Ric and I will talk tomorrow evening and make a decision about whether this will need to be postponed (depending on how the weather situation develops over the next 24 hours). Parents of Year 8 students will be notified of any changes over the weekend.
This morning I attended the Primary School assembly. As this regular event is something most parents do not get to experience, I thought I might provide you with a little glimpse into what happens. The children all line up in their classes outside the Performance Hall. They are very quiet and there is an air of expectation. When all is ready, the Class 6 ushers lead each class into the hall in silence. This morning Loani was playing a very beautiful and gentle song quietly on the piano as the children walked in. After a lovely song together, a candle is lit and each class provides an item for the centre table: flowers, a shell, a beautiful rock or a special little ornament – soon the table is a thing of beauty gracing the centre of the room. After this, two Class 6 students read the Acknowledgement of Country before introducing each class. Each class brings a small presentation as a gift to the assembled student – a song, a verse, a dance or some music. The assembly finishes with some announcements from teachers, introductions of new students (and teachers) to the school and a final song together with Loani. After this the special items from the centre table are returned to each class and they file out of the hall, quietly singing. During the whole assembly there is a beautiful air of reverence and respect. The Primary School teachers have worked hard to create this special feeling in the assemblies and it is truly a privilege to witness them.
As February rolls on and we are experiencing the lovely wet-season patterns of rain and warm sunshine, life in the school is now settling into our lovely school day and week patterns. Students are more settled in their classroom routines and we are all enjoying the gentle rhythms of work, activity, stillness and play (yes, even the teachers and support crew love to have some moments of play in our day).
I was fortunate to be able to attend the Kindergarten parent meeting last week. There were many familiar faces and a few new faces too. The parent meeting structure we have all across the school ensures that parents can come together at least twice a year (and sometimes more often) to be updated on what is happening at school, share with other parents and, often, listen to a short talk in relation to child development or our educational philosophy. The Class Meetings are also an opportunity to ask questions and, time and circumstance permitting, join in discussion around a range of topics. The class meetings really are an important part of the relationship between school and parents and I very strongly encourage parents to attend.
Finally, this year we are focusing on ‘Sustainability’ as a general theme. There are already some changes happening across the school as we seek to find more sustainable pathways on an individual and school level. Some of our teachers and support staff are choosing to car-pool to reduce their carbon emissions. I would like to encourage parents to consider either car-pooling or, preferably, utilising the bus service to transport children to school. If we can reduce the number of car trips to and from school, even by just a small amount, we can reduce our impact on the environment.
Week two is almost over and what a full and fulfilling week it has been at school. We have had a very smooth start to the school year and all of our teachers and students are quickly settling into the routine of the day and week.
I enjoyed a lovely visit down to kindergarten early in the week and was delighted to see some of our newest students playing, listening and exploring their new school surroundings. The kindergarten is such a gentle and joyful space where the experience of early childhood is really protected and nourished.
This morning it was wonderful to watch some of our Year 9 students playing running games with the Class 3 students during their recess break. Last year these High School students met and spent time with their Class 2 buddies and wrote and published story books for them. It was great to see that the relationships they built have continued and that they continue to want to spend time together.
I have been spending some time with the Year 7 class, during their maths lessons each week. I am so impressed with the way they have made the transition into the High School. We have been working hard to develop our transition program and the feedback this year is that the students are doing a great job in their new High School surroundings. Well done Year 7 students and thank you Brook and Joseph for supporting your Class so well.
Finally, some of our senior students will be heading over to Vietnam for a cultural study trip at the end of the term. They will be visiting a local school and an orphanage on their trip and are now fundraising and collecting items to give on their visit. Please see information from these students elsewhere in the bulletin and give support if you can. Learning how to gaze outwards and offer service to the wider world is a really important part of healthy adolescent growth and it would be great if we, as a community could support our students in this endeavour.
Welcome back to the new school year. It was wonderful to see our students arriving back to school with big smiles, stories of holiday adventures and excitement about the year ahead. For the teachers and support staff who have been working to prepare the school, the return of the students is such an exciting and happy time – our school comes to life when our students are here.
We finished last year on such a high note, with incredible HSC results and a graduating class who really made us proud. This year started on an equally positive note. The Class One students were so excited to walk up the hill and enter their new classroom one by one to present their new teacher, Teresa, with a rose and join the circle as Class One children. The ceremony was very moving, with accompanying music (thank you Loani, Robbie and Ian for the violin, cello and flute accompaniment) and beautifully reverent children. Teera and I may even have had to wipe away a tear or two.
We welcome our new teachers, Teresa in Class One, Mat in Class Six and Andy in the High School Maths Department. We also welcome Lucille into our Administration Team as our new receptionist.
This will be an exciting and busy term. There will be a introduction morning tea for new families next Monday. I look forward to meeting our new families, having a chat and answering any questions about the school. The morning tea will be held in the canteen area, please ask at reception if you don’t know where to go.
At the end of the term, I will be presenting a workshop at the International conference, “Transitions in Childhood - from Birth to 14 Years”, at the Goetheanum in Switzerland. (The Goetheanum is the world centre for Anthroposophically based activities, including Steiner Education.) The workshop I will be presenting will be about how to work with the changes which occur in the child between the ages of 8 and 10 years. It is an honour and an exciting opportunity to be asked to do this (and just a little bit terrifying for me). I hope to be able to present a version of the workshop for our own community in Term Two.
Finally, the College of Teachers has decided that this year our whole school initiative this year will be focused on Sustainability – for the individual, the school, the community and our planet. We will be working on ways to improve our sustainability on all of these levels, with our staff meeting to create some initial action plans next week. As one way of trying to act in a more personally sustainable way, we will be continuing our striving to create a more sustainable work-life balance for staff by asking that staff not send or reply to emails at night or on the weekends wherever possible. (Of course we are always willing to respond to absolute emergencies as they arise). I ask that parents also consider this and try not to send school based emails to staff members at night or on weekends (and please consider carefully whether an email needs to be sent at all). Ideally, all emails to teaching staff members should be sent through the reception email address reception@ http://capebyronsteiner.nsw.edu.au, rather than to teachers’ individual email addresses. Your support with this initiative will help to make our staff members’ lives a little more sustainable.
I look forward to catching up with as many parents as possible at upcoming Class Meetings, Friday markets and at the many school events which happen during the year. If you have any feedback, ideas or issues to discuss, I am happy to talk with you.
Cape Byron Steiner School students and staff are thrilled with the amazing results achieved in the 2014 HSC. Our outstanding results in Music, Drama and Extension English 2 continue a tradition at this school of excellence in these areas. However, our demonstrated excellence in other subject areas such as Legal Studies, Society and Culture and Mathematics are an exciting new development with Band 6 results in all subjects.
We are proud of all our HSC students as their results show an overall commitment to study and inspired learning. Particularly notable are our Music results with more than half the class receiving 94 or above. Two Music students received 99, closely followed by a 97 and 94. Tom Whitaker, our Music teacher is thrilled with the results.
Annabelle Elvy received first in course for Drama – the highest mark in the state and was awarded this outstanding achievement in Sydney earlier this week. She also received a Band 6 equivalent in English Extension 2.
Nerrida, Katie & staff congratulate all the HSC students and teachers for their wonderful efforts this year
With just two weeks left of the school year, there is a real buzz around the school and a lot of different activity happening. Our calendar of events is very full and staff are busy writing reports, teaching and organising special activities.
Earlier this week I watched the Class One play. What a beautiful performance and how wonderful to see just how much the Class One children have grown and learned this year. The kindergarten children in the audience were looking wide- eyed around the room with the knowledge that, after the holidays, they would be the next Class One. The movement into the seventh year marks such a change in the children and, looking at both the Kindergarten and Class One children in the same room, it was clear to see the difference in their whole beings. One of the great joys of working in a school such as ours is that the teachers really get to focus on observing and understanding the developmental changes happening in the children we teach.
Preparations are well underway for our Christmas Concert and Market on Friday 5th December. Please make sure you note this in your diaries, as it is a wonderful opportunity for our school community to come together and share some time at the close of the school year.
Finally, today we unveiled a plaque and two of our senior students planted a persimmon tree in memory of John O’Brien, Principal of the school in 2010 and 2011. A number of staff spoke of their fond memories of John, with stories being told of his warmth, sense of humour and love for the school and the students. The plaque and tree will stand as a tribute to a lovely man who touched the hearts of many in our community.
What an interesting week we have had! With the extreme heat to start with, then storms and heavy rain and finally, quite
a lot of wind. One certainly couldn’t blame the children for feeling just a little unsettled in the midst of all this changeable
In the High School, our brave Year 8 students set out on their camp, travelling from the Mountains to the Sea. They
managed the challenge of a VERY wet night in their tents and then awoke to a sparkling day, perfect for paddling down the
Our Class Three students were also out on camp this week, experiencing a wonderful Farm stay. As I write this, they are
making their way back to the school and I am sure they will have many wonderful stories to tell.
I was very lucky this week to have the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with the Year 10 students in their
Philosophy Main Lesson whilst their teacher was away. I was so impressed by the depth of their thinking and their ability to
talk about the theories of their chosen philosophers.
We are now into the very busy last weeks of term. The school calendar is very full of events, meetings and
presentations. Please do keep an eye on the calendar for events which may interest or involve you.
Finally, we sent out the annual school survey this week. Please take a few moments to go online and complete the
survey. If you missed the email, the link is here. Your feedback will help us to
plan for the future. Staff and students will also be surveyed. The information from the survey will be analysed in our
Strategic Plan process. We have received a $20,000 grant from the AIS to join the Embedding Excellence program and this
will assist us with the further development of our Strategic Plan.
Have a great week everyone.
Another busy week has passed with some important events in the life of our school community. The passing of our much-loved former Principal, John O’Brien, was a sad event and I attended his funeral today, along with a group of teachers and support staff. Katie and Greg spoke beautifully of their memories of John’s time as Principal at CBRSS.
Last week we also said goodbye to the 2014 Year 12 Class at their final Class formal. With the need for study now over, it was great to see the students all dressed up and enjoying themselves with parents and teachers at the Byron Beach Cafe.
This week you will receive a copy of our annual school community survey. Some of the questions on the survey are specifically designed to assist us with our strategic plan process. Your help in completing the survey as soon as possible after you receive it would be most appreciated.
This week we received the exciting news that the school has been awarded a grant to participate in the AIS Embedding Excellence program, a program which should assist us with our strategic planning process. “Embedding Excellence is an evidence- based approach to school improvement developed by the Association of Independent Schools of NSW to support independent schools through a collaborative process of self-evaluation that involves looking inward, looking outward and looking forward. Embedding Excellence supports schools to develop and enact a comprehensive school plan which leads to meaningful action, innovation that transforms what we do and embedded excellence.”
Over the last few weeks I have received some excellent feedback from students and parents in relation to a range of issues around the school. Your constructive feedback is always very welcome as it can assist us reflect and make improvements to our wonderful school. Positive comments and affirmations are always welcome too!
Today marks the final exam for our 2014 HSC students – there were certainly a lot of smiling faces as the students left the hall when it was over. Tomorrow night we will farewell the students at their Year 12 Formal. It is wonderful to see how much these students have grown and matured in their time with us and I wish them all the very best as they step out into the next part of their lives.
Last week we finalised our employment process for the 2015 Class One teacher. I am very happy to announce that Teresa Morton will be joining us to begin the Class Teacher Journey next year. Last week Teresa attended the kindergarten meeting to meet the parents and introduce herself. Teresa is a qualified teacher who brings a wealth of experience and understanding. She has completed the Grail Quest Steiner Teacher Training course and has been doing some relief teaching in the school. Teresa is very much looking forward to beginning the journey with her first Steiner Class.
This week we also welcomed Mat Reynolds. Mat will be taking next year’s Class 6 after the departure of Greg at the end of this year. Mat visited the class and spent some time with the children. He also attended an afternoon tea to meet some of the parents in the class. There will be further opportunities for Mat to meet parents when he arrives at the beginning of next year.
Last week we completed our administration review process. With the big jump in enrolments over the last 18 months, our hardworking administration team have had a substantially increased workload. After looking at our current structure, the current needs and some future projections, we have decided to increase staffing in the office and to shift some responsibilities. All of our current administration staff will continue with us, but some in different roles. As a result of this shift, Jacquie will be moving to become my PA and we are advertising for a new, full time receptionist. Please see the advertisement in this bulletin and on the website if you are interested in applying for this position.
Finally, just a reminder, our fee schedule for 2015 is now on the website. Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about this.
This week I walked around the school and saw teachers working with such skill and care, I saw students laughing, singing and working and I saw our wonderful Administration and Support Crew cheerfully working together to support the school. It struck me that the school is often a haven of calm and warmth in a world which can seem increasingly frightening. Almost every news story at the moment is filled with things designed to make us fearful, worried and at a high state of alert. This makes it all the more important that school can be a place of calm for our students, a place of truth, beauty and goodness. I am grateful to our staff and school community for continuing work to ensure that our school remains just such a haven for our students.
Next week our Year 10 students head out to complete their second week of work experience. The work experience program is an important bridge to the external world and a chance for our students to have a glimpse of some of the possibilities which might open up for them once they have finished school. The feedback we receive from our work experience “employers” is that they absolutely love having our students as they are interested, polite, enthusiastic and willing to get in and ‘have a go.’
Finally, just a reminder that we have a really wonderful library of Steiner related literature in the library. Please do go in and have a chat to Charlotte if you would like to borrow some of our wonderful Steiner resources and find out a little more about the philosophy that underpins our education.
A new term has started and it is hard to believe we are into the final term for the year. It was wonderful to see our students streaming back into the school with happy faces and many stories of their holiday break adventures.
From next week, our 2014 HSC students will begin sitting their exams. This means we all need to take extra care to be quiet around the exam rooms whilst exams are in progress. There will be really clear signage to indicate when exams are in progress and particular care needs to be taken around the performance hall at drop-off and pick up times.
Whilst I am on the subject of drop-off and pick-ups, many of you will have noticed that we have made modifications to our bottom car-park to make it safer and a little more weather-proof. There is now a one-way loop and clear parking spaces. Early reports are that this is working quite well, however we will continue to monitor this and I welcome your feedback. We will be creating a new garden to replace the garden that was in the carpark early next year.
This term we will also be holding a range of parent education/information events for our school community. I will be hosting a “tea and talk” afternoon in November. I will give a short talk about an aspect of Steiner Education, followed by an opportunity for conversation. Greg Noakes is also continuing his series of talks on Steiner Education on Monday afternoons. We will also be introducing the first of what we hope will become a regular series of “Steiner-Ed Talks” (our version of ‘TED Talks’ – a night of short talks given by some of our teachers on a range of topics). More details about this will follow next week. I really encourage you to try to come along to some of these school community events.
Finally, just a note about after-school activities. Last term we noted that a number of children were playing around the school grounds unsupervised after school. Some of these were siblings of children involved in after-school activities and some were children waiting to be picked up from activities. Children must be actively supervised when on school grounds after school and no child should be at school at these times unless they are directly involved in supervised after-school activities.
I look forward to catching up with many of you at the range of class meetings being held this term.
Term Times 8:30 ~ 3:30
Holidays 10:00 ~ 3:00
Fax: (02) 6684 7399