From the Principal


Traditionally, on the first week back, as a staff we usually do something to set the tone for the year – a bit of professional development and maybe a team bonding experience. One of these experiences, which actually happened at the beginning of last year, was coming together under the guidance of an artist in order to paint individual paintings which together formed two whole, but separate, paintings. Suffice to say it was a lot of fun and challenging at the same time. Each member of each team was able to contribute to the outcome of the challenge and were it not for each individual the paintings would not have been able to be completed.

It’s an obvious metaphor for how we work in schools. Each of us plays a vital role, each of us leads in our own capacity and each of us is an important link in the chain to the matter before us – the education of the children in our care. Of course, this extends to the relationship between home and school as well. The success that our children experience at school is connected closely to the proper function of this relationship. When we get it right, our students flourish. Having said that it is hard to balance a tray on a 2-legged stool. Our firm foundation is assured when the third leg of the stool is firmly attached. In Lutheran Schools, we acknowledge a gracious God as an important part of what goes on in our world. A Loving Father providing for us, a Gracious Brother winning us back and a Gentle Spirit enlightening and encouraging us.

Philippians 1:9 says, ‘This is my prayer, that your love will flourish, that you will not only love much, but love well.’

Our team have picked up on this verse (among others) this year as an encouragement towards positive relationships with their students and each other and, of course, towards positive relationships between home and school. When we get community right, learning flourishes. Everyone flourishes.

Choosing Respect and Kindness

In our school, two of our 6Rs as part of our ‘Code-of-Conduct’ are ‘Respect’ and ‘Random-Acts-of-Kindness’. I shared with our students at our Assembly/Worship last Friday about watching the movie ‘Wonder’ with our eldest daughter, Bella. Below, is an extract from R. J. Palacio’s award-winning book, Wonder.

Whether you’re the littlest of kids or the biggest of adults, choosing to be kind is always a choice.

It’s an unkind action that someone has decided to make; usually, a physical one (like hitting someone) or a verbal one (like calling someone a mean name or writing something nasty about someone else on social media). Not one person out there has an excuse for not showing respect for others. Respect is something we all expect (and deserve); but it works two ways – we have to show respect to others, in return.

In R. J. Palacio’s award-winning book Wonder, readers will learn a lot about respect and kindness by walking in the shoes of the story’s main character – ten-year-old August Pullman (or ‘Auggie’ for short) who lives in New York City in America with his mum, dad, sister Via and their dog Daisy.

In Wonder, we immediately learn that Auggie was born with a medical condition that left him with a facial abnormality, which means that he looks different from a lot of other people in the world. He has been home-schooled by his parents his entire life, in an attempt to protect him from lots of harsh things in this world – like those who don’t always give people like Auggie a chance. When Auggie reaches the age of 10, his parents choose to send him to a school and all Auggie wants to do is convince his new classmates that he’s just like them… underneath it all. He’s so much more than just how his face looks – in fact, doesn’t that go for all of us?

Auggie learns to adapt to regular school life, but as you can imagine, that comes with a fair few ups and downs; the downs often involving different forms of nastiness.

Out of Auggie’s struggles and accomplishments, themes of strength, acceptance, resilience, kindness and respect leap out of the pages of Wonder, making it an impactful read for all children.

Here are a few lessons that we can all learn (no matter how big, small, young or old we are!) by getting to know Auggie in the truly wonderful pages of Wonder.

  1. Don’t be afraid of difference

Someone will often start ‘teasing’ or being nasty to someone else because they see that person as different from themselves in some way. In Wonder, Auggie is seen as different because he was born with a condition that left him with a facial abnormality, making his face look different from many other faces. Sadly, both in real life and in the world of books, a lot of people are scared by difference, because they often don’t understand it. Auggie’s friend Jack comments that Auggie’s face scared him when he first saw him. But as Auggie stresses while telling his story, although he may look different on the outside, he’s very much an ordinary boy on the inside. Throughout the course of the book, a lot of characters learn this lesson (some quicker than others) and start seeing Auggie’s similarities shine through.

The lesson: But remember this, too: our differences are what make us all unique and special.

  1. Don’t follow the crowd: Be like Summer!

A lot of ‘bullies’ find their strength in the ‘support’ around them. If someone else is laughing at their jokes or backing them up in some way, that person is actually helping that person do their job. Remember: bullies love an audience. Two of the characters in the book, Jack and Julian, show us this in Wonder. For those who haven’t read the book, there is a scene where two boys comment nastily about Auggie just as he walks into the classroom. So, be a Summer instead! She’s one of our all-time favourite characters in Wonder. Summer makes a decision to stand up for Auggie and decides, against popular opinion, to make it a daily ritual to sit with Auggie at morning tea and lunch.

The lesson: Make decisions that feel good, that you want to make. If you like someone, go and be their friend – it shouldn’t matter what other people think. If following the crowd doesn’t feel right, find your own path, as Summer does in Wonder. Make the friends you want to have, not the friends you think you should have.

  1. Our words are powerful: they can make someone feel wonderful and awful

We are all responsible for the words we say and type, especially when they are about other people because words have the potential to hurt; just as much as a punch or a kick. Auggie was devastated when he overheard some of the boys at his school calling him mean names. Those boys might not have known that Auggie could hear them, but their words were still powerful and hurtful – and they didn’t think about the consequences of that.

The lesson: Show respect and be kind with your words and then it won’t matter who hears or reads them. Why not make an effort to use your words to show respect and kindness to someone this week – someone you perhaps don’t speak to very often – and watch what happens.

  1. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Because you’ll never get the full story! Lots of the characters that we meet in Wonder immediately judge Auggie because of how his face looks; as a result, they’re often mean to him or they just avoid him because they’ve already made up their minds about him. This is how a lot of bullying starts in life; when someone doesn’t bother getting to know someone for who they are, and instead, just makes a speedy, often incorrect judgment about them. It’s not very respectful and it’s certainly not kind. We should never judge anyone in life without taking the time to get to know who they are; before reading the whole story, so to speak.

The lesson: Respect someone enough to learn their story.

  1. Be kind to you, as well as others

While it’s very important to show kindness and respect to others in life, we also need to remember to show kindness and respect to ourselves, too. We all deserve to be happy and healthy, so, if something is upsetting us, we owe it to ourselves to seek out help. Be kind to yourself and ask for help – no one is going to judge you for doing that. There is more help and love around you than you know. In Wonder, Auggie cuts off his Padawan braid (he’s a big Star Wars fan!) after some other children make fun of him for it. You should never feel the need to change any part of yourself because of someone being nasty; by doing that, you’re letting them win.

The lesson: Respect and be kind to yourself by telling someone you trust right away.

  1. Showing respect can mean saying you’re sorry

If you read a book like Wonder and start to feel guilty because perhaps you’ve been in the shoes of Jack or Julian (two boys that upset Auggie in different ways throughout the book), know that it’s never too late to start showing respect and kindness to someone. Sometimes that can start with two simple words: “I’m sorry.” Lots of lessons are learned throughout Wonder and different characters learn to change their behaviour because they realise it’s not right and it’s hurting someone.

The lesson: No-one is perfect and we all make mistakes, so if you feel like your actions have hurt someone else, start with an apology and go from there.

REMINDER: School Start and Finish Times (8.30 am – 3.00 pm)

It is an expectation that children arrive at school between 8.00 am and 8.25 am at which time teachers collect and take children to class in readiness for roll marking. To that end, the roll will be marked at 8.35 am sharp, each day. Students arriving at school after 8.35 am of a morning are to proceed to the office to collect a late pass.

Please note: Staff do not commence duties for the day until 8.00 am. As a matter of safety for all children, we respectfully ask that children are not left unsupervised outside of school entry points prior to 8.00 am.

Start of the school year

I would like to commend our students, parents and staff for the very positive start to our school year. It is a joy to walk this educational journey with you each day!

Thank you for working in partnership with us.

Grace and Peace.

Chris Mallett