From the Principal

It is so very lovely at present seeing children, big and small, frolicking together again, playing chase games and flying paper planes in our beautiful school grounds. After all the weeks of the school feeling empty and quiet, many teachers have expressed that hearing the joyful sounds of child’s play in the school again, is music to our ears.

Now that the Wintery coolness has arrived, chilly mornings and evenings encourage us to seek warmth and enjoy cosy times together with family. These cooler days are a time for children to come to school dressed warmly in the mornings, with bodies and legs clothed by layers, that can gradually peel off as the day warms up. Many children have been shivering at school in recent days, having dressed in light-weight shorts and t-shirts, which are not adequate for the season. Please be sure to check before leaving home that your child is wearing long pants or tights, a jumper or jacket and shoes and socks.

For many, this is a favourite time of year, as the days slowly grow shorter, the nightimes grow longer, doonas are fluffed, candles are lit, kindling and firewood are gathered and it is so special to sit by a fire with friends under the starry sky.

You may have heard of Hygge, the Danish word for this kind of comfortable, content, feeling of wellbeing and cosiness of the soul.

Hygge (Hoo-guh), invites closeness and makes us feel open-hearted and alive. Hygge is to drink cocoa by candlelight and enjoy life’s simple pleasures with family and friends.

May the cooler season be Hygge-ful for all!
Warm wishes

Teera Palmer
Acting Principal

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

What tumultuous times we are living in! Things are changing so quickly that it is hard to have any certainty from day to day – and yet we must find our ‘anchor’ and ground in the knowledge that we will get through this time. As we near the autumn equinox, we are also at the time when we focus on the message of St Michael – and this is a message about finding the strength and courage we all have.

Please know that, as a school community, we are walking through this together. I am needing to make decisions I have never had to make before and these all weigh heavily – but please know that at the absolute centre of all, is the need to do the very best we can for our children. Thank you for your patience and support, we do have the courage to see this through.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

I am always amazed when autumn arrives here, it seems as though someone has flicked a switch and suddenly we see the features of autumn turn up. Cloudy skies, slightly cooler nights, mist on the hillsides – it is somewhat of a relief after the heat and frenetic activity of summer.

This week we have enacted our school planned response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Australia. Whilst there are no confirmed cases in the Byron community yet, it is better that we are prepared and following best practice as the situation seems to be changing daily.

I have sent emails out to all parents with details about this, however, the main point is that children who are showing signs of fever, sore throat, cough or runny nose should not come to school. We are asking for the community to really support us in this as we often have children coming to school who are unwell and should be staying at home.

I do understand how very difficult this can be for working parents, however, in this instance, it would be great if we could all prioritise the health and wellbeing of our whole community in this.

The other side of this situation is the mounting anxiety in our community and we need to work with this by being as calming and reassuring as we can. Children can very quickly pick up on adult anxiety and, certainly, there is a lot of very dramatic information being shared via the media and discussed around many kitchen tables (much of it inaccurate). The current lack of toilet paper on supermarket shelves is a perfect example of the very human, heightened response to the information being shared. For young children, try to keep the discussion about this to a minimum, focus on normal routines and provide reassurance when needed.

As we move into this autumn time, with so much happening around us, it is worth remembering the beautiful Michaelic Verse:

We must eradicate from the soul
All fear and terror of what comes towards us out of the future.
We must acquire serenity
In all feelings and sensations about the future.
We must look forward with absolute equanimity
To everything that may come.
And we must think only that whatever comes
Is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn in this age,
namely, to live out of pure trust,
Without any security in existence.
Trust in the ever present help
Of the spiritual world.
Truly, nothing else will do
If our courage is not to fail us.
And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves
Every morning and every evening.
-Rudolf Steiner

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

What a challenging couple of weeks it has been with some wild weather and heavy rain impacting us all! The school sustained damage in a number of areas in the recent weather and we are working to address these issues as efficiently as possible. Thank you for your understanding last week when we asked those parents who were able, to keep their children at home. I understand the timing of this event was challenging, however we do hope you understand that we were making decisions within the timeframe and information we had to hand, always with the best interests of our students at heart. We have developed a School Closure and Restriction Policy and Procedure to assist everyone to understand our process when a severe weather event occurs. We will publish this on the school website in the near future.

You will by now have heard that I will be leaving the school at the end of May to take up a position as Principal of a school in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. The Board is currently working with the process of finding a suitable candidate to carry the position forward. We have an outstanding leadership team in the school and I know they will work together to continue this wonderful school’s journey beyond my departure with the minimum of disruption. I will be working over the coming three months to ensure the transfer is as smooth as possible.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

It was wonderful to welcome everyone back to the school after the break. It always amazes me just how much the children seem to grow over the Christmas period!

I know many of us are still feeling the impact of the events across Australia during the break. The loss of so much of our beautiful natural landscape, the loss of wildlife and the magnitude of the human impact is still something many are trying to understand. For our children, this can feel like an extremely unsettling time, even if they have not been exposed to the media coverage (they certainly feel the increased anxiety in family and community). A few parents have asked me what we can do to support the children through this. I think, for younger children particularly, getting back into normal rhythms and routines is very comforting and allows them to relax into their bodies. If a child is feeling particularly sad or anxious about what has happened, some gentle healing stories can help (stories of hope and safety and human kindness). If you are unsure about how to tell healing stories to young children, your class teacher can help with advice about this.

For our older students, the recent events can lead to feelings of hopelessness and anger. Providing young people with outlets for activity is a good way to work with this. Anything that involved positive activity is helpful. It is also helpful to sit and really listen as your teenager talks about their concerns – having someone in the family who listens and understands can be really healing.

For anyone with children experiencing particular increase in anxiety over the bushfire events, our Wellbeing Workers, Geraldine and Annie, are available for support.

From a school perspective, we will be starting a CBRSS sustainability group and inviting interested students and staff to join to look at how we can improve our environmental sustainability across the school. We are also looking at how we can build further educational activities and community support activities across our curriculum.

I look forward to a wonderful year together as we support our young community to grow and learn.

Peace
Nerrida

Press release from the Principal

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School students achieve outstanding HSC Results

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School is celebrating its best ever HSC results in the school’s 30-year history. One third of the 2019 graduating class has received an ATAR of well over 90, placing students in the top 10% of the entire state. This is unheard of for such a small school.

Principal, Nerrida Johnson commented, “Our students have worked really hard this year and have achieved outstanding results. The combination of dedicated and mature students working with passionate and skilled teachers has produced this best-ever result for the school. Our graduating students are rightfully thrilled this morning; with results like these, they will be able to go on to pursue the study or career of their choice.” Nerrida said, “I’d like to thank our dedicated staff and committed parents for helping guide these beautiful souls through their education. We are proud of every single one of our graduating students, they are truly ready to step out into the world.

Outstanding results have been achieved in English Extension 1 and 2, Legal Studies, Drama, Music, Mathematics, Society and Culture, Visual Arts, Physics, languages and many other courses.

The cohort of 27 students showed dedication, commitment, a passion for their subjects and a shared support for each other that has resulted in excellence across the board. Overall, there were 30 Band 6 results (scores over 90) and 49 Band 5 results (scores between 80 and 89). This is a jump from our already impressive 2018 results of 18 Band 6 achievements,

Students are thrilled that they will gain access into their first choice of course at universities such as University of Melbourne, Sydney University, Monash, Griffith and ANU, as well as overseas institutions.

Stand-out results include Ella Hill-Smith, who received top band results in her three Extension courses, English 1, 2 and History. Lily Harrison received top band results in Legal Studies, Society and Culture and English Extension 1 and 2, whilst Abbie Walden received top band results for English Extension 1 and 2, Visual Arts and Society and Culture. Kalani Knight received Band 6s in Chemistry, Mathematics and Legal Studies. Luka Biggin-Johnston received 97% for Music and has been selected to play at the Sydney Recital Centre as part of HSC Encore and Paddy Swain achieved Band 6 results in Drama, Mathematics 2 and Music.

With an increasing emphasis on STEM subjects in the school, students received Band 6 results in Chemistry and Mathematics and Band 5 in Physics and Mathematics Extension.

As always, students excelled in performance subjects: 30 % of Drama students gained a Band 6, in Music all students achieved a Band 5 or 6, and in Visual Arts students continued to show their creative strength with yet more Band 6 results.

Principal, Nerrida Johnson and the 2019 Senior School Coordinator, Katie Biggin are thrilled with the efforts of our students and passionate teachers.

From the Principal

Changes for 2020

Next year we will be welcoming Sophie Marino as our new Class One Teacher. In the High School, we will also be welcoming Ali Hounslow as our new Science Teacher. Both teachers bring a wonderful range of different experiences and skills and we look forward to welcoming them into our team.

Next year also marks the launch of a new leadership structure in the school. Teera Palmer will be taking on the more substantial role of Deputy Principal of the school, whilst we will have new leadership teams in both the K-6 and High School Faculties.

In the High School, Rachel Knight will be the Faculty Coordinator, Alix Johnson will be the Senior School Coordinator, Andrew Keisewetter will be the Behaviour Management Coordinator and Rachel Holt will be the Curriculum Coordinator.

In K-6, Marlis Griffiths will be the Assessment Coordinator whilst Matthew Reynolds will be the Curriculum Coordinator.

Both teams will be supported by Teera and will meet regularly with me to support strong leadership across the school.

I would like to thank Katie and Teera for the outstanding work they have done leading both faculties up until now, their hard work has played an important part in getting the school to the strong position it is in today.

Peace

Nerrida

Press release from the Principal

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School students achieve outstanding HSC Results

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School is celebrating its best ever HSC results in the school’s 30-year history. One third of the graduating class has received an ATAR of well over 90, placing students in the top 10% of the entire state. This is unheard of for such a small school.

Principal, Nerrida Johnson commented, “Our students have worked really hard this year and have achieved outstanding results. The combination of dedicated and mature students working with passionate and skilled teachers has produced this best-ever result for the school. Our graduating students are rightfully thrilled this morning; with results like these, they will be able to go on to pursue the study or career of their choice.” Nerrida said, “I’d like to thank our dedicated staff and committed parents for helping guide these beautiful souls through their education. We are proud of every single one of our graduating students, they are truly ready to step out into the world.”

Outstanding results have been achieved in English Extension 1 and 2, Legal Studies, Drama, Music, Mathematics, Society and Culture, Visual Arts, Physics, languages and many other courses.

The cohort of 27 students showed dedication, commitment, a passion for their subjects and a shared support for each other that has resulted in excellence across the board. Overall, there were 30 Band 6 results (scores over 90) and 49 Band 5 results (scores between 80 and 89). This is a jump from our already impressive 2018 results of 18 Band 6 achievements,

Students are thrilled that they will gain access into their first choice of course at universities such as University of Melbourne, Sydney University, Monash, Griffith and ANU, as well as overseas institutions.

Stand-out results include Ella Hill-Smith, who received top band results in her three Extension courses, English 1, 2 and History. Lily Harrison received top band results in Legal Studies, Society and Culture and English Extension 1 and 2, whilst Abbie Walden received top band results for English Extension 1 and 2, Visual Arts and Society and Culture. Kalani Knight received Band 6s in Chemistry, Mathematics and Legal Studies. Luka Biggin-Johnston received 97% for Music and has been selected to play at the Sydney Recital Centre as part of HSC Encore and Paddy Swain achieved Band 6 results in Drama, Mathematics 2 and Music.

With an increasing emphasis on STEM subjects in the school, students received Band 6 results in Chemistry and Mathematics and Band 5 in Physics and Mathematics Extension.

As always, students excelled in performance subjects: 30 % of Drama students gained a Band 6, in Music all students achieved a Band 5 or 6, and in Visual Arts students continued to show their creative strength with yet more Band 6 results.

Principal, Nerrida Johnson and Senior School Coordinator, Katie Biggin are thrilled with the efforts of our students and passionate teachers.

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

Time seems to have flown by this year and now, suddenly, we are in the last week of school. It has been a big year of teaching and learning across the school. In a school, every day is a day filled with little victories; mastering the 7 times tables for the first time, playing the first clear note on the violin or cello, reading a book all the way through to the end for the first time, delivering an oral presentation in front of an audience, making a new friend, completing Ric’s dreaded ‘beep test’ in PDHPE, performing at a showcase, sitting a first exam and completing a major work for Year 12. These are the little victories that happen every day as part of the learning journey and we rarely get the time to stop and celebrate them. I would like to thank our beautiful students for their work and dedication and also the parents for supporting their children on this journey. I would like to particularly thank our dedicated, talented and amazing teachers, who deeply care for their students and skillfully guide them on this journey.

Last week we were informed that Luka Biggin-Johnston has been selected to perform at HSC Encore, a performance at the Sydney Recital Centre in March 2020. The concert is a selection of exemplary pieces of HSC Music performances from all over NSW from the 2019 HSC Music exams. Luka is very excited about the prospect of playing his bass in Sydney and will be performing the Stevie Wonder song, Boogie on Reggae Woman. Luka will be travelling to Sydney with his funky band (teachers Mat on drums and Tim on guitar and fellow student Paddy Swain on keyboard and vocals). I congratulate Luka for his well earned success, it is good to see his work recognised, particularly as he has been a strong supporter of our HSC music students over the last few years. I would further like to congratulate both Luka and Paddy for having their music viva voces recognised by the New South Wales Education Standards authority as being exemplary. This is a wonderful achievement. Congratulations to Mat, their talented music teacher for guiding these students so well.

In other news, Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School was named in a recent newspaper article as the top performing school in the Northern Rivers region for Year 9 Naplan results over the last 5 years. This is a really interesting and gratifying result as we do not teach to the Naplan tests, rather we provide a measured, well-rounded and developmentally appropriate education which provides a solid base of literacy and numeracy skills whilst steadily developing creative and critical thinking capacities in our students. Details of the article can be found further in this newsletter.

It has been a busy year, not without its challenges, and I know that everyone is ready for the break. I would like to close by thanking all of the administration and support staff who work so hard to make sure the wheels of the school keep turning. I would also like to thank the Board, who have worked diligently and with great focus all year and the P&F and Class Coordinators who do so much work behind the scenes.

Please all enjoy the break, I look forward to seeing you back at school at the beginning of next term.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

The last few weeks have been very busy for everyone at school, as well as being disrupted by the bushfires. The increased smoke in the air, constant talk of fires and evacuations and changes to routines definitely seemed to lead to an increase in anxiety levels within our community, and none more so than in our children. Our teachers have been working hard to restore a sense of calm, rhythm and routine with their classes and it is good to see everyone breathing a little more slowly now. If you have young children at home, you might find they are particularly sensitive to the heightened feelings swirling around when these kinds of events occur. Young children often lack context for the anxiety and so simple reassurance that they are safe and secure can be helpful, as can reinstating known rhythms and routines as soon as possible.

We are constantly looking at ways to make our school more environmentally supportive. Whilst we use recycled paper wherever possible, we still do get through quite a bit of paper each year. For this year, we are going to try something new. We have new copiers and printers which track the amount of paper (and therefore, theoretically, trees) we use across the school. We are currently in the process of working out how much additional paper we use in Main Lesson books. Once we have a final figure, we will plant the equivalent number of trees, plus another 50% so that we are having a positive effect on the environment. As it is too dry to plant just at the moment, we plan to do this next year once the wet season has arrived.

Finally, there are quite a number of school events happening over the next few weeks, with Class Plays, Excursions, Tobias, Fun Days, the Christmas Market etc. Please keep an eye on the school calendar on our website for further details. I hope to see you at some of these events.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

It is lovely to see all of our staff and students back from the term break.  Our Year 12 students are currently sitting their HSC exams and I know the students and teachers all really appreciate the way our community respects and supports the students by being quiet when moving around the exam rooms.

Friday was World Teachers’ Day and I would like to acknowledge our wonderful teaching staff for the dedication and genuine, deep care they have for our students.  Many people don’t see the hidden parts of a teacher’s life, the hours spent planning and marking, the extensive preparation that goes into every Main Lesson, the night time and weekend phone calls and emails, the deep and often challenging conversations and actions around student wellbeing and constant reflection and revision teachers need to do to keep their practice current and relevant to their students.  I would like to take this moment to sincerely thank all of our teachers.  I would also like to take a moment to thank the families of our teachers as they give up some of their important family time so that the teachers can do their work – with night time meetings, night time and weekend planning, marking and report writing and extended absences for camps and excursions.

In the last week of term, I delivered the Principal’s address to our wonderful 2019 graduating class.  The text of the address is included below for your information.

Peace
Nerrida

I would like to begin by acknowledging that today we are holding this special ceremony on the traditional lands of the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation.  I would like to honour and pay my deepest respect to the Elders who conducted ceremony on this land in the past, those who still do today and those who will continue to care for this land into the future. Australia’s first nations people are amongst the oldest known civilisations in the world.  They undertook the first great sea journeys of exploration and developed a culture of deep knowledge and connection with the land that has endured longer than almost any other in the world’s history. We are all held in the cradle of this knowledge and connection and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities this brings to us all.

Thirteen years ago, you started your school journey. For most, kindergarten was a place of warmth and love, a little bit like home.  Then you moved through the primary school: bright colours, songs and games and rich imaginative stories of fairies and gnomes, Celtic princes, Viking warriors and Greek Gods.  You made friends and learned how to read, write and calculate. 

Then, into High School and your friendships deepened as your intellects awakened and you came to some new understandings about yourselves and the world around you.  You developed skills to think critically, to question and analyse and to see things from a range of different perspectives.  You began to exercise your faculty for making judgements and taking responsibility for your decisions.  

Now here you are at the end of your formal schooling, about to graduate and step out into the world. When the first Steiner school opened, 100 years ago, it was developed out of a desire to create a new social impulse – a new way for us to live together in the world.  If ever we needed that new way of being, it is now.  With political systems in disarray, our natural world in great peril and humanity experiencing increasing discord and isolation, we cannot continue as we are.  I take this moment to acknowledge that the challenges we face were created by the generations that came before you.

This said, my message to you today is not one of doom and gloom.  It is a message of hope. You have had the benefit of an education towards freedom of thought and it is just that freedom which will light the way forward. I look at you and see young people who are socially aware, who care deeply about moral and ethical issues and who will create change in the world.  

I encourage you to go out and create the world as you would wish it to be.  Wherever possible, walk for a while in the shoes of others.  Seek to understand, rather than to polarise. Never be ashamed of caring deeply, for other living beings and for our planet.  Walk with kindness in your heart and try to see the world with patient clarity. Have courage to speak out when you know something is not right.  When you don’t understand, ask and ask and ask again.  There is great power in being able to question.

Give of yourselves and find joy in being of service to others.  Cherish the connections you already have and reach out to make new connections at every opportunity.  We best experience our own humanity when we are in relationship with others.

Don’t forget to pause occasionally and see the great beauty around you.  Take your shoes off and walk in the grass, climb a tree or swim in the ocean.  The beauty of our natural world will always bring you to a feeling of home.

Your education at Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School has finished, my wish for you all is that you can go on to fulfil the highest, truest expression of yourselves as the wonderful human beings you are. 

Now is the time for you to rise… rise and be everything you can be, who you are meant to be.  Rise to be a light in the world.

Rise and go now to live this one wild and precious life.

Farewell to the Graduating Class of 2019 our love and blessings go with you all!

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

As I write this, our school is abuzz (excuse the bee pun) with excitement about our Spring Fair. The team are working tirelessly to have everything ready for tomorrow and there is an air of excitement. Preparing for the Spring Fair is a big task taken on by the Class Three parents and a lot of time and energy is invested to ensure the day is a wonderful community event. I would like to thank and congratulate this year’s team, supported by Emma, for what they have achieved. These moments in the year when we come together as community are so very important. Not only do they help each of us to feel more connected, but they benefit the overall health of the school. Please do come along and enjoy our Spring Fair, I look forward to seeing you there.

Today, I was able to slip away from the preparations for a little while, along with some of our teachers, to support our students who were involved in the climate action in Byron Bay. It is so very important that our young people’s voices are heard on this vital issue. We educate them towards freedom of thought, towards being able to speak out for the common good and to be able to consider the ethics of the way we live our lives. I am immensely proud of our students and for the thoughtful, passionate and determined way they are speaking out about the future of life on our planet.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

This week is the first ever Steiner Schools Week. A group of our Year 10 and 11 students have travelled to Samford Valley in Queensland to participate in the Australian Youth Conference, a Steiner based conference for young people with Social Renewal as its theme. Over 4 days, the students will explore different but pressing issues of our times. These will include racism and prejudice; political, religious and economic division; world conflict; indigenous perspectives; minority groups’ Australian and world-wide response to refugees; climate change and its impact on our environment’ sustainability’ education and imagining the future; the role of the Arts; money and ethical business. With the theme of the 100 year anniversary celebrations for Steiner education being “Learn to Change the World”… this youth conference seems appropriate and timely.

I am aware that a number of our High School students have also been working on the next climate change action, which will occur on the 20th of September. This is our Spring Fair set-up day and a pupil-free day, so there will be no change or disruption to school on that day, however I know that a number of our students will be out making their voices heard on this very important topic. In my conversations with our students, I have found them to be reasoned, clear and passionate about their motivation for action and I support the message they are bringing.

In other news, we have received some great responses to our parent survey, which will be open for another week. Please do go to the link and complete the survey if you haven’t already done so. Further information about the survey can be found later in the bulletin. Once all of the survey results are in, we will be forming working groups to create some action plans for change. One of the clear themes that came out of our World Cafe evening was that of the need for clearer and more accessible forms of communication. I have been working with our wonderful ICT department on this and am really pleased to say that we will be introducing a new, user-friendly mechanism and process for communication either later this year or early next year (it will encompass everything from notices and messages to excursion approvals and access to the parent lounge as well as quick and easy access to our newsletters, calendars and student timetables.) I will provide more information about this as we draw closer to the launch date, but in the meantime, please be assured, we are working hard to create better pathways for communication across our school.

Finally, as this beautiful, vibrant spring energy courses through us, we feel the busyness of this time of the year. I encourage everyone to pause every now and again to notice the new growth on plants, the beautiful night sky, the glorious sunrises and the increase in activity for our animal and insect friends. Our children need these pauses too – it is truly a beautiful time of the year to stop and notice what is happening in the natural world around us. This pause also allows us to align with the natural cycles of our world and, in doing so, find a calm and centred space within ourselves.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello from Gunbalanya School in Arnhem Land! I am with the Year 11 students on their Kakadu camp and we are all having the most amazing learning experiences.

Our camps program provides our students (and teachers) the opportunity to step into situations quite different to our little Byron Bay bubble. In doing so, we not only learn about others, but we learn about ourselves in a new way.

We look forward to sharing more on our return

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to Term 3, and what a busy start to the term it has been.

Last week the school underwent our registration inspection with the NSW Education Standards Authority. The inspector commended our school on the extremely high quality of our curriculum, programs, policies and procedures and recommended the full 5 year registration for the school. I would like to congratulate all of our staff for the incredible work that they do for our school – we know we do good work, but it’s nice to have it acknowledged!

This week’s Principal entry in the bulletin will be a little shorter than usual as I am currently on Year 10 camp in Melbourne (where it is 8 degrees, the wind is howling and the sleet is needling our skin). I try to get to at least one camp a year as it is a wonderful opportunity for me to spend time with our amazing students. I am so proud of the way they conduct themselves and of the genuine interest they show in every activity on offer. On this camp we visited the Salvation Army to learn about the issues surrounding homelessness. A group of our students took it upon themselves to prepare for this visit by raising some money, making some cloth bags and filling them with supplies for homeless people. As I write this, those students are back down at the Salvation Army offices, handing over their donations. As I said, I am so proud of our students!

Thank you to those parents who were able to attend the World Cafe meeting last week – we gathered some wonderful feedback and had some great conversations. I will be sending out a little survey next week so that those of you who were unable to come are also able to provide some feedback. We will be getting some little working groups together in the coming weeks to plan some action on some of the suggestions.

It will be a full and productive term, so please watch the bulletins or check the chalkboard on our website for information about what is on.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

Our very busy term has come to a lovely end with many special activities happening in and around the school in the last two weeks. Our Winter festivals have been lovely celebrations of this very special part of our annual journey. In the High School, our Year 9 and 10 students beautifully showcased their elective work this week and tonight is our annual Bush Dance (organised by our hard-working Class 5 and 6 parents).

In addition to this, we have had the very great privilege of having Valentine Wember in our school this week. Valentine Wember is an extremely highly experienced Steiner Teacher who has spent many years deeply researching in relation to Steiner Education. He has published a number of wonderful books and is a very gifted speaker. Valentine has given talks, joined our study group, met with teachers, the Chairs of the College of Teachers and the leadership team and has even found the time to work with a couple of our teachers individually. Next week, Valentine will be the keynote speaker at the National Steiner Teachers’ Conference, which is a booked-out event being held in our school next week. We are so very lucky to have had time with Valentine this week.

On another night, an absolute highlight this week was when two of our wonderful art teachers, Denis and Eleni came to present the school with the magnificent artworks they have created in recognition of 100 years of Steiner Education. Eleni created a magnificent charcoal portrait of Rudolf Steiner, capturing the love and wisdom that Steiner brought to the world. Denis created a sculpture of Rudolf Steiner which deeply evokes Steiner’s wisdom, authority and great will in creating the foundations for Steiner Education in the world. The sculpture of Steiner contains the beautiful quote, “Teachers are Sculptors of Souls.”
I was moved to tears by the beauty of these two magnificent works of art and they will take pride of place down in the hall whilst the conference is on.

I wish you all a safe and enjoyable term break and look forward to seeing all our students back bright, healthy and well-rested next term. (Our teachers will all still be here next week, attending the conference – their rest is still just a little way off.

Peace, Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

(Written on Friday) As I write this, preparations are underway for our Winter Festivals. These are always very special festivals in the school calendar and mark an important moment in the yearly cycle. On this “darkest night” we take a moment to pause quietly an experience this inner moment of stillness. In Australia, our experience of the winter dark is a little more subtle than that felt by our European friends where mid winter can mark days of very little light at all. Here, we need to sense a little more keenly to feel the quiet and stillness of being “with ourselves” at this time of the year. I know that our teachers have been planning for a beautiful, reverent festival and I hope you are able to sense into the moment.

This will be the first Winter Festival I have missed in my years at the school, however my healing from recent surgery is not yet at a point when I can venture out into the community. Please know I will be with you all in spirit.

I was talking with some parents recently and they asked me about my own teaching background. I realised that I am now in my 7th year at the school and many parents have arrived in our community since then – so it is probably timely for me to re-introduce myself to our community. I am a teacher (both State and Steiner trained) with over 20 years of teaching experience, teaching from Kindergarten through to Year 10. I have worked in Steiner schools in Victoria and New South Wales (where I also took on leadership roles including as the Chair of the College of Teachers and member of the Management Team) and spent several years in Papua New Guinea, teaching and training local teachers. I have been a Director on the Board of Steiner Education Australia for 5 years now and assisted with the writing of the National Steiner Curriculum (English). I have delivered workshops and lectures on Steiner Education around Australia and at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. I am absolutely passionate about Steiner Education and our amazing and beautiful school at Cape Byron. I very much miss my role in the classroom, but now enjoy supporting teachers and our community to ensure our school continues to thrive.

I welcome communication with members of our school community. If you have not yet had the opportunity to say hello to me, please do come and introduce yourself to me at school, call or send me an email to say hello. (As I am not yet able to be back at school – an email is the best way to say hello at the moment). I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

Winter has arrived with a blast this week! I think we were all lulled into a false sense of security by the unseasonably warm May weather. It seems perhaps that many of us were caught unaware, I know I have certainly seen some shivering children in the playground wearing shorts or t-shirts (and a few shivering staff in light weight clothes). It is so hard to understand the weather at the moment that I would strongly recommend that people wear layers every day. Rudolf Steiner had quite a lot to say about the importance of warmth, particularly around the organs. I have discovered the best option for me is to wear a sleeveless vest (daggy, I know, but it keeps me warm).

I have had a few people approach me over the last week asking where they can purchase a copy of Annie Barrett’s new book, “A School’s Journey – Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School”. The book details the wonderful history of our school, from its first days at Bangalow and is available from Reception for $15 a copy.

We are now moving towards the very busy last part of term. Preparations are well underway for our Winter Festivals, please look out for more detailed information as we draw closer to the date. Our Year 7 students are currently out on camp (experiencing the winter chill of Western NSW) with Year 8 to follow soon. Our year 9 and 10 students are working towards the elective showcase night and Class 5 and 6 parents are busy preparing for the annual bush dance, which will be held on the last night of term.

Preparations are also well underway for our school to host the Steiner Education Australia National Teachers’ Conference in the first week of the term break. My involvement with Steiner Education Australia meant I was in the right place at the right time to offer our school as the site for this important and prestigious conference. Apart from having the honour of welcoming guests from across Australia and overseas to our wonderful school, we have the added benefit of having a major Steiner Teachers’ Conference on our own turf, enabling all of our teachers to attend. There are some excellent speakers at the conference, if you are interested in attending please see the Steiner Education Australia website for details (I believe the earlybird price closes this weekend).

I will be away from school for the next two weeks as I am having some minor surgery and unfortunately this means I will miss the Winter Festival (I won’t quite be back on my feet by then). I will be thinking of you all on the night. Teera will be Acting Principal in my absence and Penny, my PA, will manage my emails and calls. I look forward to returning, fit and well, in a couple of weeks.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

As you are no doubt aware, we are holding a very special celebration tomorrow evening to celebrate 100 years of Steiner Education as well as the wonderful 30 year history of our own school. This will be an exciting evening for our school community with amazing food (catered by the Open Table) as well as an incredible night of music by Pete Hunt and his big band. This will be another great opportunity for our school community to come together in a relaxed environment to celebrate (children are welcome).

One of the highlights of the evening will be the launch of Annie Barrett’s new book, “A School’s Journey – Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School.” Annie has been working on this labour of love for several years now and has produced a beautiful book which tells the rich story of our school’s history.

I strongly encourage you to come along for the evening – bring family and friends and join with us in celebrating. There is no need to pre-book, tickets will be available at the door.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Acting Principal

Greetings to all

It was so lovely to welcome everyone back to school last week and to see parents, students and staff exchanging morning greetings, looking rested, refreshed and ready to begin Term 2 together. Interestingly, many teachers commented on how so many of their students had noticeably grown over these holidays. It is truly amazing how much children can grow and change in a few brief weeks and how time away allows us to more easily observe such growth!

And so…. the great wheel of the year continues to turn and with Autumn days growing shorter and the coming of longer nights and chilly mornings, as always, our school community has a variety of events to attend and much to celebrate.
Along with our warmly anticipated Winter Festivals and our annual Bush Dance, we are also excited to be hosting a very special Centennial Ball, in celebration of 100 years of Steiner Education. This will be a wonderful 1920’s themed evening and tickets can now be booked online – please see booking and other details in the post further on in this Bulletin.

As we collectively share in the school’s calendar of events, our school community continues to develop and strengthen; such strengthening is also supported through offering parent education opportunities.

This term, Melanie Deefholts is presenting to parents at individual class evenings from Kindergarten to Class 6 and in some High School classes too. In each of her presentations to class parents, Melanie will speak about the specific developmental stages in connection to the year level, and how parents can best be prepared to understand and support their children in this process as they journey with their class and teacher. Melanie is an experienced parent educator who speaks with clarity and always brings a fresh and insightful perspective; we hope you will be able to join us on these evenings!

In addition to parent evenings, Eurythmy classes for parents continue with Susan Gould on Wednesday mornings from 9 am until 10 am in the Movement Room and beginners are welcome.

Other events to note include, our Repair Care & Maintenance day on May 18, which conveniently coincides with the election and our school being a polling booth, and the Pupil Free Report Writing Day on the 11th of June.

I’d like to remind our school community to be safe and considerate drivers on the local Ewingsdale roads and in our school car park; particularly in the mornings and afternoons when students and parents are arriving and leaving.

Duty teachers often need to caution or stop young children who run ahead of their parents when leaving school in the afternoons. I bring to your attention a Pedestrian Road Safety Tip advising that adults should hold hands with children when crossing roads until they are at least 10 years old.

So please do be mindful and vigilant in holding your child’s hand before you reach the drive-through lane in the school car park and be sure to stop and look for cars with your child, before beginning to cross the drive-through lane to reach your parked car.

In closing, we look forward to welcoming Nerrida back to school next week after her study leave and time overseas. It has been a pleasure to look after the school in her absence as Acting Principal and I really appreciate the support I have received from staff, parents and students.

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and cosy Term Two, as we journey together towards the longest night!

With thanks
Teera

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

This term seems to have flown by and we are now nearing the term break. There has been a lot of activity around the school in the last two weeks and I think our teachers and students are all looking forward to having a chance to rest and recharge.

Over the last week or so I have had the joy of meeting with the members of the Student Representative Council in the High School as well as having morning tea with our HSC students. It is always so enjoyable to spend time with our students, listening to what matters to them and watching them show their own form of leadership within the school. It is such a privilege to witness these young people growing and developing as they learn.

Some of you may know that this Tuesday was World Autism Day. As with all schools, we have a number of students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I would like to honour all of the amazing incredible people who live life on the autism spectrum. I would also like to honour all the incredible mums, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunties, uncles and cousins who know the challenge AND the joy of loving that special person. I honour the teachers who love and care for these students and who learn so much from them.

I thought I might share with you a personal account of autism – a quite common disorder which is often misunderstood.

My understanding of autism comes from my incredible, beautiful, wise, intelligent, gentle, caring grandson. Eli (pictured with me below) is one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever met. He sees and experiences the world in a way which is so unique and special – he reminds me every day that my way of seeing and experiencing the world is just one way… not the only way. When Eli came into the world, I discovered a whole new world of love – I wouldn’t want to change who he is for anything. He is brave and strong, thoughtful and determined and his smile melts my heart.

If you want to know just a tiny bit of what it feels like for someone with autism… this description is inspired from a talk Eli gave last year when he stood in front of his whole school and talked about autism ……

Sit quietly for a minute and listen to every different sound you can hear – the fridge humming, the car going past, the cricket whirring in the garden, the bird chirping, the clock ticking, your breathing…. the longer you listen the more you will hear. Then do the same with your hearing and your seeing. For most of us, we filter a huge percentage of the sensory input coming in so that we don’t notice it – it’s just too much. We only notice it when we really concentrate. For a child with autism, the filtering system doesn’t work – so every impression is there for them all the time. When the input is just too much (sensory overload), they can have a “meltdown” – it looks like a temper tantrum or bad behaviour, but it isn’t…. it is the child trying to deal with the absolute sensory overload they are experiencing.

You may have noticed an autistic person “stymming” – performing a repeated action like rocking, tapping, flicking etc., (Eli paces up and down and flicks his hands). This behaviour helps the child to filter out the sensory input – it calms it down a bit. This is a coping mechanism and it works for them (so we really shouldn’t try to get them to stop it … unless they are hurting themselves or others by doing it).

I hope that in sharing just a little from my experience with my grandson, I might have given you some insight into the worlds of those in our community who live with the autism spectrum disorder.

In closing, the P&F held their AGM this week. Sarah Sykes stepped down from the Executive after many years of dedication and hard work. Thank you Sarah for everything you have contributed to the P&F and the school. Michelle Ruthven was re-elected to the executive and joined by Felicity Davies and Gladys De Swart-Pages. Thank you to the parents who attended on Monday and special thanks to Michelle, Felicity and Gladys for being willing to lead our wonderful P&F.

Have a restful and healthy break everyone,

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

I would like to start this newsletter by thanking everyone who contributed to, participated in and attended our Autumn Festival last week. It was such a special event and the warmth and community spirit it generated is still reverberating around the school. These moments when we come together as a community are truly precious and help to anchor us into the rhythm of the year.

This week I would like to honour our teachers for their attention to detail, particularly in relation to the aesthetic in the classroom. If you walk around the school, you will see some incredible works of art on the blackboards. Many of our teachers stay back at night or come in on the weekends to create beautiful blackboards to support the current Main Lesson. We know that one of the best ways to access learning is through the feeling life, and the beautiful blackboard drawings can certainly evoke a depth of feeling towards the topic. When students walk into the room and see a new blackboard drawing, the message the students receive is that their teacher cares about them and cares enough about the topic to create something beautiful to introduce it. If you happen to be wandering around the school, I encourage you to have a peek into some of the classroom windows to have a look at our teachers’ amazing work.

Next Monday is the P&F AGM. Our P&F do such a wonderful job of supporting parents and the school. Each P&F meeting provides an opportunity for you to hear from the leadership of the school and a Board member as well as the chance to discuss issues and topics of interest relating to the school. The P&F is not just about fundraising, but provides parents with an opportunity to come together and share thoughts and ideas as well as having some social time. It is such an important part of the fabric of our school and can only exist with the support of parents who are willing to participate. If you have never been to a P&F meeting before, I encourage you to come along on Monday night. I look forward to seeing you there.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

What a huge week it has been with many events happening in and around our school community. Many within our community (both school and local) have experienced some huge challenges over the last couple of weeks. The Michaelic message of this time of the year is one of courage – finding the courage, wisdom and personal integrity to meet each challenge as it comes towards us. I am constantly humbled by the quiet courage I see around me as people turn bravely to face what comes to meet them. I would like to share a Michaelic verse, given to us by Rudolf Steiner, which I personally find helpful in challenging times.

We must eradicate from the soul
All fear and terror of what comes towards man out of the future.

We must acquire serenity
In all feelings and sensations about the future.

We must look forward with absolute equanimity
To everything that may come.

And we must think only that whatever comes
Is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.

It is part of what we must learn in this age,
namely, to live out of pure trust,
Without any security in existence.

Trust in the ever present help
Of the spiritual world.

Truly, nothing else will do
If our courage is not to fail us.

And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves
Every morning and every evening.      – Rudolf Steiner

I am deeply grateful to the teachers, staff, parents, students and members of our broader community who continue to strive towards that awakening, who offer courage wisdom and support and who weave the very fabric of our community.

I would like to close by offering my deepest sympathy and warmest wishes to Simon, Frida and Matilda on the passing of Jane – a very much loved mother and wife and a vibrant member of our school community. Information about Jane’s memorial gathering can be found later in this bulletin.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

As I write this the wind is howling and the rain is pouring down – it seems our wet season may finally have arrived. With the extended dry season there has been a real feeling of longing for the wet and then the cooler, less bright and sparkling atmosphere which heralds the turn towards autumn. In the last couple of weeks, as the humidity has built and the weather has become more unsettled, I have noticed this reflected in my own feelings and in the people around me. It is really worth noticing and acknowledging the effect of the cycle of the seasons on all of us – and in noticing, we become a little more patient and understanding (with ourselves and others).

This week saw the High School Swimming Carnival taking place at Mullumbimby. It was wonderful to see the high level of enthusiasm and participation on the day. It is a real theme of our High School that students are expected to participate in all events in the life of the School. This really helps to build a sense of belonging and community. I was particularly impressed to see the way our senior students were leading, encouraging and caring for the younger students.

This week I have really enjoyed watching our Primary students playing during break times. The creativity and vibrancy of play is wonderful to watch. In one corner of the garden, ‘horses’ are galloping around chasing each other and leaping through the air, in another corner there is some serious trade happening in the shop, where macadamia nuts can be purchased for the price of a piece of bark. Meanwhile on the monkey bars, children are swinging hand over hand as they attempt to cross a river full of crocodiles! This rich, imaginative play is absolutely essential to the developing child and will be the source of much growth and development through into adulthood.

Down in the Kindergartens, our newest students are settling in to their new routines really well. As this is our first year where there is no younger group of children, the classes seem to be settling relatively quickly. Emily and Jenny (supported by Elizabeth and Anat), do a wonderful job of helping the children settle into the gentle daily routine of Kindergarten.

Finally, this week I met with the small group of parents and friends who have put up their hands to help organise our Centennial Ball (which will happen in May). We are very excited about this really special social event in the life of the school. We are planning a wonderful evening of celebration and I encourage you to put the date in your diary now (you can find the details further down in this bulletin).

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

It was wonderful to welcome our students back to school last week. Teachers and support staff had already been back at school for several days before the students returned – but the school only really comes alive when it is filled with the laughter, chatter and striving of our wonderful students.

Our teachers gathered together for a short staff retreat together in the time before the students returned. This is something we do every year and is a great way of coming together to start the year. In this, the 100th year since the first Steiner School opened, we focused our attention on thinking deeply about the core tenets of this educational philosophy and how this might evolve so that we continue to meet the needs of the students coming to us. The discussions were vibrant and thoughtful and I am sure they will continue into this centenary year.

The first event of the year was the Rose Ceremony, where Class 1 teacher, James Deefholts, welcomed each of his new students to begin their journey together. I enjoyed meeting with Class 1 parents at a morning tea on the first morning, there is a real sense of excitement as the next part of their journey begins.

The next day, we welcomed our new Kindergarten students to the school. Again, it was lovely to spend time with Kindy parents talking about their hopes and dreams for the journey ahead and watching as the connections between families are forged. These connections will strengthen as parents work together to support the children through their school journey.

It is such an enormous privilege to be able to work with the children and families in our school community. It is no small thing to have a part in helping each young person grow and learn so that they can shape their own destinies. I know we all feel both the privilege and the responsibility deeply. Core to the success of our task are the relationships we build and the way we communicate with each other about this. My wish for this year is that we are all able to work together with positive spirit and good will to achieve the best possible outcomes for the young people who are part of our school community and who are at the centre of all we do.

Peace
Nerrida