From the Principal – Oriana Constable

This week we have a special guest introduction from Oriana Constable, Head of Senior College

We are living in extraordinary times. As we return from an unusual break and begin an equally unusual start to the term, together we are navigating our way through a whole new way of working, living and schooling.

Throughout the recent events I am so proud of our school community for all rising to the occasion and truly fulfilling the motto of our school ‘Factis non verbis’ (Deeds not Words). The deed of sacrifice to protect the communities’ most vulnerable may have presented its challenges, but the support and goodwill demonstrated by the Tintern community is heart-warming. Just as Monty Python urged us to always look on the bright side of life, I hope that this moment in history may shine a spotlight on the amazing job that teachers do and that as parents you have, on some level, enjoyed seeing just how adaptable and resilient your children are in the face of adversity; quickly engaging with a new way of learning and continuing to support their peers and teachers by actively participating in remote learning classes.

Tintern has a proud history of rising to the occasion when a challenge is presented – a creed so true that it is reflected in our Tintern girls’ school song ‘…we’ll work with a will, yes we’ll work one and all for the welfare and honour of Tintern’. Indeed, our annual school publication ‘The Brook’ tells us of the difficulties faced and the contributions made by our Tintern Community in the 40s. An excerpt from 1941 talks about the efforts by students to help during the war through social service.

And in the school’s Jubilee year of 1947, a reflection on the ‘The War Years’

In more recent times we have seen this in our response and support for those affected by bushfires. Our rich history of 143 years has seen the school endure and thrive through many adversities and now we have come together again and I know we will be stronger on the other side.  

We continue to take great pride in being a school that encourages and nurtures connections between teachers, students and parents and we continue to strive for this in the online space. In the coming weeks our primary focus is in maintaining continuity of learning and wellbeing for our students and community and to provide a safe and supportive environment for our staff and students. Following the Easter Break, our teaching staff completed four days of Professional Learning activities, with staff off-site. These activities allowed colleagues to hone their skills in online delivery with many opportunities for collaboration. It was wonderful to have the opportunity for staff to share their expertise and experiences using various online platforms to develop the best possible academic, social and emotional outcomes for our students.

After 3 weeks away from each other I know staff and students are eager to re-connect this week and, while our Prep-Year 12 classes are unable to physically be together, it is wonderful to see everyone online when we meet for classes and pastoral sessions. The return to school provides routine and structures that have been missing these past few weeks and having live lessons with students is assisting us to maintain a sense of connection and community.  

While drawing out the positives, I also recognise and appreciate the real and genuine challenges these circumstances present for our staff, students and families.  The days are becoming shorter and colder and the novelty of having the option to conduct everyday life in pyjamas is wearing thin. It is much more challenging for our staff to teach online as I am sure it is for parents who are also working from home, with the challenge of juggling a full house. I know you will share in recognising the terrific job our staff are doing, but I want to highlight how honestly exhausting this quick change in circumstance has been, requiring many, many hours of additional work. Despite the best efforts of our teachers and high-quality delivery, I also acknowledge that it just isn’t the same for our students. They will be missing their friends, social interactions and being able to play in the playground and run around the oval at lunchtime. They are missing their teachers too and we are equally missing them. And for parents everywhere, while having your children home will present you with many positives and new opportunities, it is hard work and I am sure many of you have felt stretched to your limits as you adjust to this new way of living. Your wellbeing is important to us too.

Last night we hosted an online information session for parents with Hugh van Cuylenberg from The Resilience Project. He highlighted the importance of parents looking after themselves during this time and maintaining optimism and hope. He encouraged us all to focus on expressing gratitude during this time and to look for the positives in the situation (even when it doesn’t seem like there are any!). A strategy for doing this is to take time to write down three things that went well for you each day and to think about something you are looking forward to tomorrow. One of the unfortunate consequences of the restrictions in place currently is that for all of us we have experienced the disappointment of cancelled plans; holidays, celebrations, milestones and events. Despite this, we can still look forward to something each day; a catch-up with family on skype, walking the dog in your local area, trying a new recipe. Find something to be optimistic about.

The Resilience Project has created an online resource for parents, TRP @ Home that you can access through http://theresilienceproject.com.au/at-home/?mc_cid=7ef1b4b69b&mc_eid=f9486363fc

Another great parenting resource has been developed by the World Health Organisation which provides specific advice and strategies that you may find useful – COVID-19 parenting tips

Despite the unusual situation we find ourselves in, we are committed to providing unique, engaging and broad educational and co-curricular opportunities for all our students. This extends to key events and celebrations. We are presented now with an opportunity to be creative and adventurous in the way we approach delivery of a range of these events and I look forward to our upcoming ANZAC Service which, despite our distance from one another, has seen contributions from staff and students across the school.

You have been incredibly supportive throughout this process and we are enormously grateful to you for this support. Thank you for your patience, support, commitment, suggestions and, ultimately, care for each other. During the challenge of events such as these the fabric of our school is woven even more tightly as we embrace the shifting landscapes ahead together.

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