From the Principal

Welcome to Week 4 of Term 2 to everyone in the community. We have made another good start to a term with students and staff working away diligently to ensure great teaching and learning is taking place. Students appear to have returned willing and ready to undertake the work required to guarantee their success.

The academic wheels are truly in motion for Term 2 with the boys working away industriously by ensuring they are completing set work as well as studying for what I am sure appears to be a never ending range of assessment tasks. At the same time the vibrancy of the extra-curricular is in full swing with the football and soccer seasons well underway. We have had mixed results across the year levels with some great wins, close losses and the odd game where we were totally outclassed. Through all of this the boys are trying hard and most importantly enjoying themselves.

Last Tuesday we gathered with the Year 9 boys and their parents for breakfast to celebrate ‘the right journey’ – a program the boys had undertaken during first term. The program takes the boys on a journey from childhood to the beginnings of becoming a man. The breakfast provided was the culmination of the journey. It was a wonderful gathering, one which brought me much joy as I observed the boys interacting with their parents as young men. It was so uplifting to have so many parents in attendance, sharing in their son’s education and development. I would like to thank and congratulate Ms Ashley Simon, Mr Nicholas Kearney and the team of Year 9 Oratory leaders as well as the staff who supported the program. I would also like to thank the parents for their attendance and support for what is a great Year 9 program initiative.

I would like to share the thoughts of one of the parents in attendance as I believe she summed up the gathering very well and I wanted to highlight how pleasing it is for the staff to get feedback such as this letter.

“I just wanted to say thank-you to the teachers & catering staff for creating such a positive & uplifting event for all the year 9 boys & parents. From the moment we walked in & heard Jack’s beautiful acoustic guitar, a lovely warm atmosphere was created & we felt very welcome & special. It was encouraging to see so many parents with their sons. I was able to meet some of the boys my son talks about for the first time. The opportunity to share special memories with my son was really bonding & encouraging for us both. The effort the teachers are making to help our boys grow into fine young men is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed. Having lots of male role models for them is fantastic; sadly lacking in many areas in our community. Special thanks also to the canteen staff who do an outstanding job in catering. The food was well presented and delicious. Hopefully this becomes an annual event for future year 9 boys.”

This leads beautifully into my thought for the week. The wonderful gifts teachers share with their students on a daily basis is often overlooked, sometimes taken for granted or even worse, ridiculed in our society especially in the media and most disappointingly by our politicians. I share an article I read in this week’s Age Newspaper to highlight the gifts and talents teachers have, gifts and talents they apply every day in their care and nurturing of the children in their care.

In the sky above Melbourne, special needs teacher comes to the rescue May 1, 2016

Konrad Marshall

When she first boarded Flight JQ527 from Sydney to Melbourne three weeks ago, Sophie Murphy felt an “awful tension” in the cabin.

It was 10pm on a Sunday and 180 tired, grumpy strangers were sniping and squabbling over luggage space inside the A320 Airbus.

A cabin announcement, mindful of the mood, implored the passengers to “be nice” to one another.

That’s when Murphy spotted the teenage boy.

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“He was perhaps 14 and had Down syndrome,” she says, sitting at home in Ashburton. “He walked onboard and he was just smiling and joyful. But he was the only one.”

The short journey after that was largely uneventful, until the cabin crew announced that they could not land. The equipment was fine. The weather was clear. So was the runway … but someone would not get into their seat.

“If it was a cartoon,” says Murphy, “there would have been smoke coming out of people’s ears.”

They circled the night sky above Tullamarine, banking and waiting, running low on fuel. Cabin manager John Chesson, 45, says this is when things got stressful.

The problem was the little boy. He felt sick. He was laying on the floor and would not get up, not even with the help of his elderly parents or adult brother and sister.

Chesson has dealt with disruption before. He has kicked people off planes before takeoff because of drunkenness, or racial abuse, but problems in the air are different.

They call for doctors in cases of emergency, he thought. This seems like an emergency.

So he made a request over the loud speaker: “Is there a teacher on board this flight? Is there a special needs teacher on board?”

There was. Murphy, 42, is a teacher of two decades experience, now lecturing and completing a PhD at the University of Melbourne.

“Teachers get such a bad rap,” she says. “I was proud to go back there, knowing I could help. This is what every single teacher does, every single day.”

She found the boy in the aisle, sprawled on his belly. She met the family, then lay down on her stomach to face him. “We didn’t talk about the plane, or being on the floor,” she says. “It was just teacher mode, teacher talk, teacher voice.”

She asked his name. Shamran.

She asked where he was from. New Zealand. (He had come from there that day.)

She asked his favourite book. Winnie the Pooh.

He felt sad and itchy, he said, so she held his hand and they talked about Piglet and Eeyore, and SpongeBob SquarePants, too.

Eventually they sat together. His parents cried and nodded “Thank you.”

Murphy asked for sick bags then held them – one after another and another – while he vomited, including on her. “It’s OK,” she said. “I’m your friend. We’re OK. We’re going to do this together.”

She asked for something to clean up. Tissues and wipes were offered from a dozen hands. The rosiness came back into his face. He grabbed his sister’s long hair and sniffed it. They looked through the window at the Melbourne lights, and he pointed out his favourite colours.

After taxiing to the gate, the seatbelt sign dinged and no one moved – no impatient stampede to get off and get home. The passengers let them walk down the aisle first, quietly clapping and smiling as they disembarked.

Later, a young woman approached Murphy. She said she was sitting one row back throughout the ordeal, with her husband, a doctor.

“But he didn’t know what to do. Apparently he actually sat watching, taking notes,” says Murphy. “Parents always tell teachers about the impact they have on their child, but the acknowledgement is rarely public. I just want people to know that all teachers have these amazing, incredible skills that can be called on in many settings at any time. Teachers rock.”

I am a strong believer that many of the ills associated with our education system today can be traced back to a general lack of respect students have for their teachers. I often question where this lack of respect comes from because in my twenty nine years of teaching I can honestly say that the vast majority of teachers I have worked with are hardworking, highly motivated, gifted people who have been given the chance to become great teachers. Unfortunately, many of our students do not afford all teachers the respect they deserve, stemming, I believe, from the poor regard teachers are offered in our society. Whilst we as a society continue to bash teachers, painting them in a poor light, we will continue to have issues in the classroom where students refuse to allow teachers to teach, hindering the education of all students in any given class. Whilst here at Salesian College we are offered great support by the vast majority of our parents, we do on occasion have parents wanting to blame staff for the poor choices their sons have made, so I ask that all in the community to challenge the image often portrayed of teachers, acknowledge the great work they do and appreciate the way they go about caring and nurturing the boys in their care. The world will be a better place.

God bless.

Robert Brennan
Principal