From the Principal - 11 September 2015

Kiaora Koutou e te Whanau o Hato Maria

Greetings to all St Mary’s families.  I am writing to you at the later half of a very busy and exciting term at St Mary’s and there is more to come!  I was immensely proud of our senior students last Monday night as they took to the stage at Bay Court and presented as a group and in some cases individually the standard to which we can reach in Music and the Arts.  

I know many parents and members of our community who witnessed our Tauranga Music Festival Performance will agree with me when I speak of the high level to which our students performed.  My thanks on behalf of our school community to Sally Washer and members of our Aroha team who prepared our students so well.

Two weeks ago we had a great day of sport and fun with our visitng Selwyn Ridge staff and students who were splendid guests.  The day took me back to times when school sporting exchanges were common place.  With this in mind it is something we hope to do again.

It was also great to be able to spend two days at camp last week, again with our Aroha team.  Though the weather was not what you would classify as perfect, attitudes and application to the varied activities was not thwarted.  I was again impressed to witness the many challenges and opportunities undertaken by our senior students.

Moving forward to the term end we have one last event to be enjoyed and celebrated in the area of visual arts.  Week 10 will be Arts Week at St Mary’s, and though this will be a week of celebration, what we will in effect be doing is recognising work that has occurred in classes over the last two terms.  

As a school we have once again enlisted the expertise of Laura Grace as we plan, prepare and present a celebration of the visual arts.  As in 2013 our Arts Week will again conclude with a presentation evening on Thursday 24 September.  More details in regard to this are communicated later in this newsletter.

Communication to Teachers

At St Mary’s we definitely encourage active communication between caregivers and our classroom teachers.  However, it is important to note that teachers may not be able to read or respond to messages during the school day due to teaching responsibilities.  Therefore, any information or communication that may be urgent in regard to your child should be made by phone through our front office.

We have had some instances lately of parents attempting to convey changes in afterschool organisation through the teacher via email with short notice. 

Fireworks

With a little under two months before our annual Taylor Brothers Fireworks Gala our PTA are deep into the final planning. One of the key objectives being, gaining enough volunteers to ensure the event’s success.

 As you may well be aware, community raised income is a key component of a successful school.  It gives us the ability to turn good into great by the provision of high end resources and key personnel.

Our St Mary’s PTA has an outstanding record of consistently raising in excess of $60,000 a year, a major component of this being provided by our Fireworks Gala. 

In the next few weeks our PTA will be asking for your commitment to this year’s event which could involve as little as one hour of your time, on or leading up to the night.

I therefore ask, if at all possible, to support the continued growth and development of our school by supporting our PTA.  Keep an eye for the information and when it appears please consider carefully a role that will suit you.

Looking forward to another outstanding Fireworks Gala at St Mary’s!

Traffic Management

It is important that we remain aware of our obligations as road users when driving and parking around our school neighbourhood.  As previously communicated please ensure your vehicle is parked appropriately in a designated space before stopping to pick up or drop off children.  Unfortunately complaints from neighbours have increased recently due to parents once again parking on grass verges and across driveways.

 

Nga Mihi Nui

Ben Fuller

Principal

From the Principal - 18 August 2015

Kiaora Koutou e te Whanau o Hato Maria

Greetings to all St Mary’s Families.  As we approach the halfway stage of Term 3, I am sure we are all now in anticipation of spring and some warmer weather.  We have had a busy couple of weeks at St Mary’s with still plenty of excitement to come.

School Mass - Feast of the Assumption

Last Friday we were lucky enough to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption at our Parish Church, St Mary Immaculate.  It was great to have a number of parents at our Mass to witness the exemplary behaviour of our students and the special service led by Father Mark.  It is always a special occasion when we can combine in such a way to celebrate key aspects of our faith.

Student Led Conferences

I was extremely impressed with our Student Led Conferences last week.  As a parent I had the opportunity of participating and, as a Principal took time to observe and witness the great time reflecting and connecting with student learning.  

I would like to publically thank all teachers for the way they prepared their students for this event and congratulate our students for the way they so expertly shared their learning progress and achievement.

2016 Enrolments

We are already experiencing pressure on our school roll in regard to student places in 2016.  It is likely that many of our new entrant enrolments next year will need to spend a small period of time on a waiting list prior to starting with us.  We will of course give priority to those children who already have siblings at St Mary’s but in order to do so we must have completed enrolment forms on file.  Therefore if you have a child who is turning five at any time before or during 2016 please ensure enrolment procedures have been completed.

PTA Quiz Night

Once again the annual PTA Quiz night will go down as one of the great successes of 2015 at St Mary’s.  A big thank you to Clair Stott and her team for the tireless efforts put towards the organisation and running of the night.  At time of writing I understand estimated profits to be approximately $14,000 which is both an amazing achievement and of great future value to our school.

Congratulations to ‘Teachers on Duty’ winners of the quiz on the night!  Your combined intellectual capacity should be reassuring for all parents.

Uniform

I have been working with NZ Uniforms recently to continue to improve both supply and development of school uniform items.  We have had a rather cold winter for Tauranga standards and though we hope the worst has past, NZ Uniforms now have thermals in stock that can be added as an additional layer.  Black for boys and white for girls.  

Traffic Management

It is important that we remain aware of our obligations as road users when driving and parking around our school neighbourhood.  As previously communicated please ensure your vehicle is parked appropriately in a designated space before stopping to pick up or drop off children.  Unfortunately complaints from neighbours have increased recently due to parents once again parking on grass verges and across driveways.

Gold Sponsors

As a school we are extremely fortunate to have a number of Gold Sponsors who support our Vision and contribute to the many opportunities we aim to offer our children.  

We welcome Ross Abernethy and Paul Broatch, our latest Gold Group Sponsors from Abernethy Broatch Law.  

You will learn more about Abernethy Broatch Law in later issues of the newsletter. 

Should you or someone you know require any further information in regard to becoming a Gold Sponsor of St Mary’s Catholic School please do not hesitate to make contact with either myself or Theresa in our front office.

 

Nga Mihi Nui

Ben Fuller

Principal

 

From the Principal - 24 June 2015

Hi Mihi Nui Kia Koutou

Hello, Greetings to you all.  This will be the last newsletter of term two, an 11 week term that seems to have now preceded us with some haste.  We are now essentially half way through the 2015 academic year and I trust your children are able to both look back on some great achievements and look forward to opportunities to come.

Student Led Conferences

Our first reporting event of next term will be our student led conferences in week 4.  Student led conferences are now an established part of how we report to parents and one where students take a lead role.  This is a process that we continue to refine and grow as a student centred reporting tool.  Details in regard to date and time will follow early next term.

Mathematics Learning Story

Further to reporting, you should all now be in receipt of your child’s mathematics learning story.  This being in a similar format to the reading learning story received last term.  If you haven’t already, please take time to access your child’s eportfolio site, view the learning exemplar, read the comment in relation to achievement against National Standards and place feedback in regard to the learning you witness.

No doubt you are starting to see your child’s eportfolio take shape and able to visually understand how each individual aspect of reporting will combine to form a real record of learning and achievement during their time at St Mary’s.  The teacher comment is of course still an integral part of reporting to parents and our legislative obligations but the real actual exemplar of student achievement is recorded in the form of the critical conversation.  These are then combined with illustrated standards, progressions, expectations and progress in learning to form the students learning story.

Traffic Management

Unfortunately we stil see parents parking on yellow lines, driving into the school grounds, driving on grass verges, parking in the bus bay and parking in the school driveways over the yellow lines.  Please parents, for the SAFETY OF OUR CHILDREN, use common sense when parking around the school.

Sporting Success

This term has been a great one for sporting success, gymnastics, cross country and a multitude of team sport achievements.  I would like to congratulate all students who have taken the opportunity to participate in a sport or sporting event irrespective of what it is or the level of success.  Winter sports will, of course, continue into term three so there will be plenty more smiles to come.

Musical Opportunity

We also have the opportunity to recognise the musical achievement of Lily Richards, Lily Hodgson and Cullan Fuller who have been selected as soloists for the upcoming Tauranga Music Festival.  The festival this year will be celebrating 50 years of student performance over four nights. All of our Year 5 and 6 students will be a part of the opening night.  Much preparation will occur next term in the lead up to this event in week 7.

Senior Leadership Team

The last week of term will be one of learning for members of our senior leadership team.  While Anna MacKinnon and myself will attend the New Zealand Principals Federation Conference, Janet McCarroll and Jana Benson will be attending the International Conference on Thinking.  We wish Janet and Jana safe travels.

Gold Sponsors

As a school we are extremely fortunate to have a number of Gold Sponsors who support our Vision and contribute to the many opportunities we aim to offer our children.   

Should you or someone you know require any further information in regard to becoming a Gold Sponsor of St Mary’s Catholic School please do not hesitate to make contact with either myself or Theresa in our front office.

Happy Holidays!

In closing I would like to wish all members of our community a blessed and safe holiday in what ever shape or form this may take.  I look forward to welcoming back our students in mid July and hopefully spring in the not too distant future.

Nga Mihi Nui

Ben Fuller

Principal

From the Principal - 27 July 2015

Kiaora Koutou e te Whanau o Hato Maria

 Greetings to all St Mary’s Families.  Welcome to term 3 - one that poses much excitement, activity and opportunities in a range of areas.  Information in regard to some of these I will expand on later.  Last Monday we welcomed ten new students and their families to our school, some for the first time.  

I personally look forward to sharing in the many activities and experiences that will make your time at St Mary’s rewarding and successful.

New Board of Trustee Member
It is my pleasure to welcome and congratulate Mr Vincente (Vic) Villegas to our St Mary’s Board of Trustees.  Vic will join us as a representative of Bishop Steve (the proprietor).  I am sure you will join me in welcoming Vic to this governance role and the future contributions of leadership to our school. 

Assessment and Reporting
Our first reporting event of this term will be our Student Led Conferences in week 4.  Student Led Conferences are now an established part of how we report to parents and one where students take a lead role.  This is a process that we continue to refine and grow as a student centred reporting tool. 

I mentioned last term that you are no doubt starting to see your child’s eportfolio take shape and able to visually understand how each individual aspect will combine to form a record of learning, achievement and progress over their time at St Mary’s.  This term we will add a writing Learning Story and progress towards a National Standards comment to e portfolios which will complete both the provision of a learning exemplar in each core curriculum area and our interim reporting for 2015.

Student Led Conferences will be held on Wednesday 12 August and will be 45 minutes long.

Times available will include:

 1.00 - 1.45 pm

1.45 - 2.30 pm

3.00 - 3.45 pm

3.45 - 4.30 pm

5.15 - 6.00 pm

Room 16J will have 10 minute Parent Teacher Interview times.

Please note that as in previous years, school will finish at 12.00 pm on this day and students will need to be collected from this time.  Should students require supervision until 3.00pm this will be provided in the Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey Centre from 1.30 pm.  

Students who have Student Led Conferences at either 1.00 pm or 1.45 pm will need to be collected 15 minutes prior to their conference time.

To book your conference time please go to;

www.schoolinterviews.co.nz

Event code:  U5CDD 

Event code:  KSVCX (Room 16J only)

Investing in Educational Success (IES)
You may well have seen two recent media articles in relation to our school and the Government’s current IES initiative.  IES being the $359 million investment the Government promoted as means to raising educational achievement in New Zealand.  As a school we are focused on gaining as much benefit as possible for our school community inline with the initiative.  We have done this through the following:

Faith Based Community of Schools: The premise behind Community of Schools is schools working together to raise student achievement by sharing expertise in teaching and learning and by supporting each other.  We are currently working with eight other Catholic Schools in the Bay of Plenty and South Waikato area in the formation of this Faith Based Community, including St Thomas More and Aquinas College.  

Teacher Led Innovation Fund: As a school we have been successful in gaining funding from an associated IES initiative.  We are one of 72 schools nationally who have been provided with funding to undertake a specific innovation in regard to student learning.  

The purpose of our innovative practice will be to further enhance the value of a ‘Student Centered’ approach to assessment and reporting in the online environment, with a particular focus on priority learners.  

The objectives of the community are supported by the Government by way of various funding streams including additional teacher time and provision for professional learning development.  The focus of the community is centered around key data driven achievement objectives pertinent to all schools. 

At present we are working with the Ministry of Education to have our achievement challenges endorsed prior to progressing to the resourcing stage. Exploration will occur across curriculum with a focus on creativity, communication, collaboration and spirituality. These are key dispositions of learning to be valued and enhance the child as a lifelong 21st century learner.  I would personally like to congratulate and thank Mrs Janet McCarroll, Mrs Anna MacKinnon and Miss Jana Benson on the work they collectively put into the design and completion of the proposal.

After School Transport Arrangements
Thank you to those who are continuing to be both conscious and considerate of our community and its residents before and after school.  However, following an incident last week I must also ask that you are vigilant in regard to your own children and have a clear understanding with them in regard to any arrangements that are made.  Parents of junior students may wish to ensure teachers are also informed should there be a change of routine or arrangements, particularly in regard to children getting home from school.

Aroha Events and Activities
Our Aroha team has a number of events and activities this term that are sure to be exciting for all involved. 

  • In week 7 this term they will attend a camp at Totara Springs that I am sure will challenge all students and maybe some parents and teachers too!
  • On the evening of Monday 31 August they will all be participating in the Tauranga Music Festival’s opening night.
  • Our annual South Cluster Winter Sports tournament is scheduled for later in the term followed by further opportunity for those teams that go on to Western Bay of Plenty level.

I am certainly looking forward to sharing in the success of our senior students this term.

 

Nga Mihi Nui
Ben Fuller
Principal

From the Principal - 10 June 2015

Hi Mihi Nui Kia Koutou

To start on a sporting note, it is great to see so many St Mary’s students involved in a range of sporting activities this term.  These, of course, include our traditional winter codes but also many individual pursuits.  We are half way through our cross country events this term, the weather playing it’s part in allowing the South Cluster Cross Country to be completed last Thursday and now thirteen St Mary’s students look forward to running at Western Bay level.

We will be completing our interim reporting on mathematics this term through a learning story and interim reported comment against progress towards national standards.  As with the reading learning story in term one, this will be distributed in digital form.  I have been able to sample a variety of learning stories completed to date and must applaud both students and teachers for the quality of the exemplar’s and related learning conversations.

Samoan Assembly

I am sure for all that were present at our last school assembly you would have been extremely impressed by the performance of our Samoan Cultural Group.  This group is a collection of people from within our school community, led by one of our parents, Ati Aaifou-Olive.  The inclusion of this performance was a great way for us as a school to recognise Samoan Language week and further reinforce the importance of growing culturally responsive practice at St Mary’s.

Catholic Conference

This week a representation of our school’s leaders will be travelling to Wellington to attend the 2015 Catholic Education Convention.  This convention is held every three years and is focused on the advancement of educational practice and enrichment of faith.  It will showcase good practice in our schools and other educational activities.  While a number of us are away at this conference Mrs Sally Washer will be acting Principal.

Pastoral Care Survey

Many thanks to all who completed the Pastoral Care Survey.  It is great to see the many people from within our community who both recognise the importance of this as a school and are prepared to support it.  We are currently working across our school, including the PTA, Board of Trustee members and members of staff to review and refine systems of support with the aim of providing help where it is most needed and that is sustainable.

Parish School Mass

This Sunday will be celebrating this term’s Parish School Mass and at this Mass our Sursum Corda Choir will be singing.  It will be great to have as many parents, students and families at Mass this Sunday as possible, 10.30am at St Mary Immaculate.

Knowledge-A-Thon

A big thanks to our PTA and their army of volunteers for the work that has been put into this year’s Knowledge-A-Thon.  Congratulations to all students who worked hard gaining sponsors and collecting donations.  While it is still a bit early to know exactly how much money our PTA has earned we are starting to see the classes and individuals who have made a big fundraising effort.  We are hoping to recognise these people at our assembly.

Uniform

As the weather gets colder a reminder that acceptable additional layers include our fleece and soft shell jacket.  Both these items have been designed to be worn in class if required.  Should a further layer be required this can be worn under either the girls dress or boys polo.  However, if this becomes visible it must be coloured white for the girls and black for boys and must not be visible above the neck line.

Shoes are required to be black leather with no additional colour or noticeable markings.  Shoes of canvas construction or boots are not acceptable footwear.  However, if your child currently has no other option then please provide a written note alerting to this fact with the time frame indicated.

Traffic Management

It is important that we remain aware of our obligations as road users when driving and parking around our school neighbourhood.  As previously communicated please ensure your vehicle is parked appropriately in a designated space before stopping to pick up or drop off children.  Unfortunately complaints from neighbours have increased recently due to parents once again parking on grass verges and across driveways.

Nga Mihi Nui

Ben Fuller

Principal