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

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

The end of the school year has arrived and our students have all started their holidays (our staff will be signing off for the break on Tuesday afternoon). What a wonderful year it has been with so much wonderful learning, growth and development and many wonderful achievements across the school. Thank you all for allowing me the incredible privilege of serving the students, staff and school community for another year.

I hope you have a safe, peaceful and enjoyable break and look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

As I write this, the school is a hive of activity with people decorating and preparing our school for the Christmas market and concert this afternoon. The Class 2 parents have done a magnificent job setting up. As the school year draws closer to an end, there are a number of special activities happening across the school. On Monday, we celebrated the Class 6 students and the completion of their journey through the Primary School. With words of gratitude, gift giving and beautiful singing, the morning was very special.

On Monday evening, we held our second parent conversation evening. Thank you to the parents who came along to share in the discussion. There were many wonderful suggestions and ideas shared and we hope to bring some of these to fruition. We will be holding at least 2 parent conversation evenings next year (and will endeavour to have the 4th Term meeting a little earlier in the term.)

I am very much looking forward to the Year 9 and 10 Showcase next week, this is always a very exciting event and there will be many wonderful performances, displays and presentations on the night. On Friday, the last day of Term for students, the Primary School will be celebrating at the Mullumbimby Pool whilst the High School will be enjoying their annual beach carnival. Meanwhile, the Kindergarten will be celebrating a special Kindy Christmas Festival, “The Gifts of Love and Peace.”

As this is the last full bulletin for the year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing teachers and support staff for their dedication and care this year, what an amazing group of people you are!. I would like to thank the Admin crew for their incredible ability to juggle 20 balls at once and keep smiling. Thank you to the Leadership and Management Teams (Teera, Katie, Julia and Annas), for your hard work and enthusiasm all year. Thanks to Gavin, the outdoor crew and cleaners for keeping our beautiful site in great condition. Thank you to the Board, who have worked so very hard all year to provide outstanding governance for the school. Thank you to the P&F executive and active members who continue to support the school in so many ways. Thank you to the Class Coordinators who provide such wonderful support to the teachers and the parent groups in each class. Thank you to all of the parents for trusting your children to our care all year and for working to support the school and teachers. Finally, thank you to our wonderful, exuberant, caring, thoughtful, creative students. You are the reason we are all here and I feel so honoured to be able to lead this school for you.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

Just as our days have rhythm, our years also have a rhythm which can be sensed. Right now, in the last weeks of term, with many assessments, events, excursions and activities in the remaining weeks, we can experience the feeling of a big in-breath before we can exhale deeply over the break. The sensations can include excitement, tension, tiredness and even some anxiety. This is really normal for this time of the year and it is good to acknowledge this and try to find some space within each day to “breathe out” and come to a place of quiet. It is especially important that we allow the children this time and space too.

Hopefully by now you will have received an invitation to our next Parent Conversation Evening. The first evening, held earlier in the year, was a great opportunity for me to catch up with parents and have a conversation about topics related to the school. The last evening’s conversation centred around communication and, following on from the meeting, we made some changes to the bulletin and also found a way to circulate parent contact details for classes. Whilst a range of topics can be discussed, we plan to open the conversation with the question, “What do we do now to bring warmth into the school and what new ideas could we explore to do this?” Please come along and contribute to the conversation, as well as any other topics you would like to talk about. We plan to meet in the Movement Room on Monday 3rd December. Katie and Teera will join me and we look forward to seeing you there.

Finally, having farewelled our graduating class, I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude to Gael and Andy, the Year 12 Guardians, for the way they have supported this class on their journey. It is an amazing experience to journey with a class and I know that Gael and Andy have given much of themselves to this very special task. Thank you to both of you.

Peace,
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

Today marked the end of HSC exams in the school. I am so proud of the way our senior class students have conducted themselves in this, their final year of schooling with us. I would also like to express my gratitude to students, teachers and members of our school community who have shown such consideration to these students; moving quietly through the school whilst exams were in progress. Whilst it can feel a little disruptive to the school, it is so supportive to our Year 12 students for them to be able to sit the exams in the school environment.

In the High School this term, we have welcomed Andrew Keiseweter, our new Mathematics teacher and Head of our Maths Department. Andrew will also take up the role of Class Guardian, alongside Rachel Holt, for Year 7 next year. Andrew brings with him a wealth of experience (I am also told he is a mighty-fine basketball coach).

In the Primary School, we welcomed Susan Gould, our new Eurythmy teacher. Susan is currently working with Class 1 and 2 students and this will extend across the Primary School next year. Susan is a very skilled and experienced Eurythmy teacher as well as being a trained educator. Susan is also offering Eurythmy classes for parents and teachers. It really is wonderful to have Eurythmy back in our school!

As I am writing this, there are some very excited Class 2 students, about to have their very first ‘camp’ experience with a sleepover at the school. They will build on this experience over the coming years as they engage with our comprehensive camps program which culminates in the Kakadu experience in Year 11. Camps are such an important part of their education experience. On camps they learn new social skills, develop independence, problem solve in real life situations, experience varied landscapes and cultures, learn just how much they are capable and immerse themselves fully in the awe of our natural landscape. Tonight is just the beginning for our Class Two children!

We are heading towards the very busy downhill run to the end of the year now. This means there is a lot happening around the school and many people juggling multiple tasks. It is important in this busy, sometimes frazzled time, that we all stop every now and again, take a deep breath and remember that everything we do is done with the wonderful children and young people who are entrusted to us at the very centre. What a privilege to have such a role to play in the life of a child!

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to a new term. As always, it was wonderful to see our students returning this week, full of smiles and stories from their break.

We finished last term with a flurry of activity. Our Spring Fair was an absolutely wonderful day (with the weather gods smiling on us). There was a beautiful feeling of community as we celebrated the past, present and future of our lovely school. I must admit to feeling quite emotional when some of our school founders and past students stepped forward out of the crowd. We owe those founders and first students so much!

It was also a great opportunity to show people through our new innovation centre. It was a privilege to reveal the name given to our new building by Arakwal Elder, Aunty Delta, The Ga Ngaa Lee La Innovation Centre. Ga Ngaa Lee La (pronounced gunga lay lah) means “think, listen, understand” – an appropriate name for such a beautiful learning space.

We had several videos running during the Spring Fair; including a video about the history of the school, a video with messages from our Alumni and also a video about the construction of the Ga Ngaa Lee La Innovation Centre. These videos have now been uploaded to our website, I encourage you to have a look!

We finished the term with our beautiful Graduation Ceremony for our Year 12 students. What an amazing group of young people they are! I always find the graduation time to be a time of great hope for the world. I look at our wonderful students and feel happy that they have the capacity, creativity and confidence to step out into the world and make a real difference. I have included a copy of my graduation address to the students later in this bulletin.

Our HSC students have now started their exams and so I ask you all to have some awareness and consideration as you move around the school whilst students are sitting their exams. A quiet and calm environment is the most healthy environment when sitting an exam.

On a final note, we have decided to hold our planned Ball next year (in May) as fourth term is just too filled with events already. Planning is now underway and we are planning to have a wonderful Centennial Ball – celebrating 100 years of Steiner Education in Australia. If you would like to join our little planning group, please do let me know. We are currently at the exciting ideas and possibilities stage of planning and would love some additional input.

Peace
Nerrida

From the Principal

Hello everyone,

On such a busy Spring Fair set-up day, I have only a short message for you all. Celebrations such as our wonderful Spring Fair draw our incredible school community together and help to weave the fabric of relationship between us all. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to bring this special 30th Birthday Spring Fair Celebration together.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow and enjoying the wonderful living spirit of our community in action.

Peace
Nerrida