Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

The last newsletter for 2011 and what a busy and yet fulfilling year it has been. When we think back on 2011 many people will remember the terrible natural disasters that occurred in Christchurch and Japan, they will think of the bloody revolutions right throughout the Arab world and the continued global financial meltdown.

Some will remember it as the year in which New Zealand finally regained the Rugby World Cup or the year in which the new Forsyth Barr Stadium opened for business.

Children, especially young children have, I believe, more personalized memories. They remember their own personal experiences far more strongly then they relate to a name that they have had no personal interaction with.

That is why the experiences, the routines, the skills and techniques that children learn while they are young are so important because they form they type of person that they will be and where they will go in life.

A positive partnership between home and school is a vital component for a young person to ensure rapid development in these early years.

Leading Education Theorist Lester Flockton spoke recently of the amount of time that a young person is actually at school, he suggests about 20%. But if the school and home are more of a community then obviously the school’s affect is far greater. But a school with such a limited access can only really accomplish so much, the home must continue to support this development, be it reading, maths or social.

So please, during the holidays continue to support your child’s learning, read to them, play games with them, and talk to them.

I would also like to farewell our Year Eight pupils, they have been great leaders and have achieved a huge amount this year. I feel confident that they have been well prepared for the next big step in their life, into secondary education and I wish them all well. Please come along to our End of Year Mass and Prize giving to farewell them and to mark the end of another highly successful year at St Mary’s.

Have a happy and Holy Christmas and a restful and enjoyable New Year.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

The second last week of the term and what a busy time it is.

I attended, along with a number of parents and teachers, pupils and our school choir, Father Vaughan Hook’s ordination on Friday night, and what a special occasion it was. Father Vaughan has noted on several occasions how proud he had been of his education at both St Mary’s and as it was then, The Taieri High School. Father Vaughan was Head Boy at St Mary’s when he was in Year Eight, and feels the leadership opportunities that he was given at such a relatively young age helped to enable him to achieve what he has in later life.

We have begun our performances of our end of year concert, with the matinee going off very smoothly and I am sure that the evening performances will also be a tribute to the hard work and effort of the staff.

In his book ‘Outliers’ the author Malcolm Gladwell noted that a study carried out in American schools showed that children who continued with their education during their summer break were the children who were most likely to achieve well at school, up to 25% more likely in fact.

So just continuing on with my message from last week, please encourage your children to continue to read during the holidays. Buying books as Christmas presents is a good idea, but remember all children right up to intermediate age like to be read to, especially a story that is topical. I am reading the Hobbit to my daughter Emily at the moment. She chose this because she liked watching the Lord of the Rings films and wanted to know what happened in the Hobbit before she saw the film—this comes our next year.

As with most longer books it takes a while to get into it but now that we have she reminds me every night that it’s story time, and lets face it reading a good book is far more beneficial than watching some of the programmes on T.V.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

As we focus on the concluding school functions for the end of 2011, it is important to remember that learning doesn’t stop on 16th December and begin again on 31st January.

Learning is continuous and for our pupils to continue to achieve it is important that their learning continues over the six week summer break.

This doesn’t mean of course formal school setting each day but rather informal learning through games, focused activities and role modelling.

Here are some ideas that may work for you:

Give children some Christmas presents that ensure learning e.g. board games, puzzle books, and of course books for them to read. Each day spend some time visibly reading, this will show your children that reading is a grownup and a cool thing to do. Play games with your children, especially board games as this will encourage them, children love playing against their parents! Read to your children regularly and discuss what is happening in the story and why, I am reading the Hobbit to Emily at the moment and each night she tells me what happened the previous night.

When you are travelling by car play games like: I spy, animal, vegetable and mineral, or twenty questions. They are great for learning and also help the trip to go more smoothly.

When playing sports such as darts, table tennis, cricket or even basket ball, get your children to score and ask questions like if Ricky Ponting is on 87 how many more runs does he need to make 100? And what is 100 in cricket?

Learning is fun, it is on going and it is essential to our continued development. Sometimes their questions may seem unnecessary but remember that’s how they learn.

A recent study carried out in the USA showed that the learning that pupils did outside school was the difference between those who achieved and those who didn’t, so a six week period will have a huge effect on your child.

Over the next couple of weeks we will put down more simple ideas to help you support your child’s learning over the Christmas break.

Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Week Five and what an important week this will be with the results from next weekends election promising to set the tone for the type of country that New Zealand will be for the foreseeable future.

We in New Zealand are lucky because our votes all count and we all have the ability to have a say in the direction in which our country is going. The challenge I think, is to not see the political landscape as parliamentarians do in terms of three years but rather to take a longer term view. What will New Zealand be like for my children when they begin to vote?

Obviously education is a portfolio that has a huge effect on the future of our country so please ensure that you know what each of the political parties will deliver with regards to education for our children’s future.

The children and teachers are working very hard at the moment on our end of year concert and there are a number of other outings and occasions coming up. If you can help in any way then please speak to your child’s class teacher as all help will be gratefully accepted—have a great week.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well here we are in week four of what is a very short and busy term.

The pupils have a huge range of activities and outings coming up. Our goal is to ensure that our pupils receive every opportunity but to keep our primary focus on teaching and learning, therefore all of the activities will have a focus on curriculum .

To enable our pupils to take part in L.E.O.T.C activities we, like all schools, rely heavily on the support of our community so thank you to all of the parents and caregivers who give up their time to support our teachers. Without you these trips would not be possible.

As many of you know I enjoy and am involved with coaching a number of sports and have been over a number of years. The ‘Golden Rule’ I have found in coaching teams is to ensure everybody, children and parents know the game plan and everybody: parents, players and coaches get a fair go.

Sport is about enjoyment but it also teaches a huge number of life skills such as: independence, resilience, time management and how to work with team mates and opponents. Children don’t learn these skills in isolation, they learn them by seeing them modeled, and by having them reinforced constantly.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Last week I had the privilege of accompanying Room Seven on their annual camp.

This year it was a summer camp so the camp was held at Camp Columba in Pukerau.

Firstly thank you to Mrs Baines for organizing an excellent camp, and thank you also to the great group of parents who supported this camp, Mesdames Janine Will and Bridget Hall and Messer's Gary Hayward, Lindsay Burns and James Crooks. Without the help of these people giving up their time, important activities like camp would not be able to take place.

Outdoor education has unfortunately become an aspect of education that not all schools now endorse. As with all adventure based activities there is an element of risk, but there are risks attached to all activities. Scootering, results in many times more injuries than we have ever had on camp, as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in the Hobbit “when you take a step outside your front door you begin an adventure”.

Abseiling or rock climbing or completing the high ropes course themselves are not crucial towards achieving in life, few, if any of us will regularly use these skills and fewer of us will make a career of utilizing them.

But what they do, is enable us to set and overcome challenges, they develop our feeling of self esteem and courage. They show us how to concentrate in situations that we are not used to.

As I watched a young person stand at the bottom of the climbing wall or the top of the abseiling cliff and look up or down—I could see them think I don’t know if I can do this? So when they did achieve this goal they felt they had proven something not to others but most importantly to themselves.

That is the value of outdoor education, it offers another dimension to our lives that dissuades us from the sedentary but also teaches us skills that show life isn’t a spectator sport, it’s about being fully involved.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well what a successful few days it has been for St Mary’s, firstly let me start by thanking the fair co-coordinators Karen Elliott and Rachel Morris and the P.T.A. for organizing and implementing a brilliant fair.

The whole day was excellent, and also a big thank you to all of the other willing helpers and to the families for all their generous donations of prizes and support of our fair.

The time and effort that the P.T.A. put in to running our fair is immense and the they do it with two clear goals, firstly to have a great day for our community and secondly to raise much needed funds for our school.

They achieve this goal by hard work and an immense level of loyalty and enthusiasm. So thank you to the P.T.A., your hard work is greatly appreciated.

Then yesterday we had our Athletic Sports and this turned out to be another great day. The weather looked marginal at the beginning of the day but our weather lady, Mrs Dillon said it would be fine and it was. I was thrilled by the effort put in by all of our pupils and as a school we were very proud that another St Mary’s pupil has won the Dillon Cup for the best overall athlete. Cameron Dyer won this award by achieving a perfect score of 36 points. Once again thank you to all of our great helpers, without you this day would not have been nearly as successful.

This year seems to have been a busy year right from the first of February when we started but the next weeks will be even busier so please check the diary of up coming events section to ensure you are all aware of all that is coming up at school.

It is the time of the year when the secondary school hold their senior prize giving ceremonies and I always read these with interest noting the names of our ex-pupils and remembering them when they left us after Year Eight.

To all of these ex-pupils who are reading this congratulations on your successes since you left us.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

Well as I write this most people will be soaking in the realization that New Zealand are rugby world champions for the first time since 1987.

I listened with interest to the post match interviews and the one that I felt was the most illuminating was the one given by Brad Thorn, the man born in Mosgiel, who spent his primary years in Cromwell/Bannock Burn and then moved to Queensland where he became a Rugby League star.

A world champion with the Kangaroos and the winner of several premierships with the mighty Brisbane Broncos before changing codes and becoming an All Black, and a world Champion again. It’s a pity that he never became a Highlander.

Brad gave thanks on several occasions to God and expressed how fortunate he had been but also stated several times how, early on in his Career, he had not been able to make representative teams and he stressed that for all aspiring young athletes the crucial aspect is to keep trying, and work harder.

If you miss a team don’t quit, work harder, a selector or coach finds fault keep trying, you have a run of bad form don’t stop trying but rather work harder and believe in yourself.

Stephen Donald, a much maligned player, is a world champion because he hung in there and worked hard and believed in himself.

I am away at camp for most of this week with Room Seven.

Have a great week in what will be a very busy term.

Mike Brosnahan