Monday, December 10, 2012

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

‘It’s the final countdown’ as the group Europe sang.

I have begun attending the usual end of year celebrations and as the gentleman who was officiating at a service that I attended on Sunday said when you hear Christmas songs it tells you that Christmas is here.

It’s also a time of reflection and we at St Mary’s can reflect on a highly successful year.
It seems a long time ago, but our visit from the Education Review Office team was very positive and
complimentary.  They identified the excellent education that pupils receive at St Mary’s and this was
further born out by our excellent National Standards results.  Few schools would have produced the
excellent results that we have. 

Our mid season musical was also highly successful and it along with our excellent choir and brilliant Kapa Haka group shows that we are able to offer breadth as well as depth in our curriculum.

Our pupils have once again achieved some excellent results.  Some highlights that I would like to mention are the winning intermediate relay team and the senior boys basketball teams, where one team won the round robin and one team won the final—so St Mary’s was first and second in the grade.  Also the Year 7/8 and Year 5/6 Netball teams were also very successful winning their grades.  A great effort!


Now we see our new school rising up rapidly and so much of my time seems to be spent on coordinating aspects of this.  But as I see on each site meeting we are going to truly have a venue that is new and modern and helps to support our teachers and learners.


I would like to finish by saying a huge thank you to all of the people who help make our school a huge success: The BOT and especially the Chair, Donald Mitchell, few people realize the time and effort that he puts in and especially the key role that he plays with regards to the shift.

The PTA capably lead by Jacqui Dodson, do so much more than raise money (and they do this very well) but they also help to give our school a real sense of community.

To all of the parents who help in so many ways, by either coaching or managing teams, going on trips or camps, helping in class or just being supportive, to you all I say have a Merry and Holy Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.


Have a great holiday—Mike Brosnahan


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

The second to last week of the term for us and like all schools this is a very busy time.

It is also a poignant time as we continue to prepare for our move to 87 Church Street.
Last week Donald Mitchell and I attended our fortnightly site meeting and the progress that had been made over the previous fortnight was amazing.
The new school is really starting to take shape and it will be amazing for our pupils to continue on their learning journey.

 Reports go out this Friday, so please read them carefully and discuss the contents of them with your child.  They are designed to show a learning path where both school and home can work together to achieve the best for our learners.


The results for our pupils against National Standards was excellent.  This information will be included in the end of year Board of Trustees newsletter but I would like to say that we as a school community should be very proud of all that we have achieved over the preceding year.


In next week’s newsletter I will list our highlights for the year and also timetable the upcoming events for the remainder of this year and the beginning of 2013.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Thursday, November 29, 2012


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

As I look out the window this morning I can see that we are going to have a lovely summers day.  The senior classes have swimming and the junior rooms are off to Brighton Beach for their Beach Education Day.

I was speaking to a friend last night and he was telling me how that he found it quite sad how often the end of year can be a time not of joy and celebration as we approach Christmas, but a time of stress and tension.

I agreed with him but said that I still believed that people looked forward to the festive season but that they expected to tidy up all of life's ‘loose ends’ in the month of advent and as it became obvious that this was not going to happen, then they put pressure on themselves and others by trying to work to impractical and unsustainable time frames.  This is often compounded by the range and number of  functions that occur at  this time of the year.  The most relaxing Christmas times that I remember are times when we simply got away from it all.

 To ensure that our pupils continue to achieve at the high standard that they do I would ask that you all ensure that your children continue to read and write over the Christmas period.  A recent study showed that in all schools the amount of progress that children make during the school year is quite similar but that what makes the difference is the work put in during holidays.

If pupils don’t read or write for six weeks then they have to catch this up, so please encourage your child to read daily during the upcoming holidays, and play lots of card and board games.

Remember a good book is a great present.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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

Here we are in week six of what is proving to be a very busy term.

The focus over the final month will be on the season of Advent as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, plus swimming for the senior classes along side beach education for the whole school and reflecting on our time at 62 Church Street, as we prepare to move.

 Obviously on top of this are a number of other outings and activities.  I can count four possible outings for the senior class over the next week, off the top of my head, and of course the major focus will continue to be on ensuring that our learners continue in their learning right up to the end of the year and in fact are prepared to continue their learning through the holidays.

 The Christmas season, the season of ‘Good will unto all’ can be a stressful time, the school year is ending or has ended, everybody is expected to attend a wider range of functions and as a society we have become more and more focused on ‘things’.  The ‘things’ in this case being presents, always aiming for bigger and better.  What we need to remember is that the actual meaning of Christmas is about families being together no matter the circumstances, that material possessions are only temporary and that what is really important is the relationship that we have with those close to us.  Christmas is a time of reflection and a time of joy but most importantly it is a time to give thanks for all that we have.

 Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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

Tomorrow 14th November is the second time this year that a rare astrological event will take place.  This one is a solar eclipse that will best be viewed at 10:36am.

Last week our school took part in the annual South Taieri Schools Athletic Sports, and what a great day it was.

I was very impressed with the results that our school achieved, and winning the intermediate relay was a great feat.  The attitude shown and effort put in by our pupils were also highlights and to be commended.

Athletics continues to be a major focus of most primary schools because there is usually one event that favours every shape and size of pupils.

If you look at the Olympics the athletes who run the sprint are different from those who run the marathon and they are quite different from the throwers.

Despite what people may say the rule of 10,000 (Hours) says that the more time you spend training especially at a young age then the better you will be.  Natural talent really only occurs because of some who began early.  Mozart was thought a genius at 11 but he had been honing his skills since he was 3.


As my son continues into his first week of NCEA externals the same point occurs in a slightly different way.  Because he has worked steadily all year he doesn’t appear panicked about cramming now.  Other Year Tens that I speak to are not so laid back, because they didn’t do the hard yards early on.


To all of our ex-pupils who are sitting or have sat exams this year, good luck, you can still help yourself by ensuring that you are well rested before your exam and that you work for the entire three hours.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Sunday, November 11, 2012

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

Week four of the last term of 2012 already and those of us with secondary aged pupils will be only too aware that for some the academic year is over and they are moving into exams.

The NCEA assessment criteria has often been much maligned but having gone through a year of working with the system I am very happy with it.

Under the old system (school certificate) pupils had in most subjects, one chance, through a three hour end of year exam to succeed.  Work throughout the year to a large degree counted for nothing.

With NCEA each credit at whatever standard is known and accounted for.  If you get a merit you usually have the opportunity to up grade to excellence.  Many students will already have passed before they sit their external exams and those who haven’t know what they need to do to succeed.

A very similar system of internal and external examinations now exists in most tertiary institutions and this more transparent system ensures that pupils know where they are and what more they need to do to pass.


Work at our new school site is progressing smoothly and the new school is taking shape rapidly.

I have no doubt that there will be more challenges to face before we get to February 5th but we are now well on the way to moving into our new school.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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

What a great day Sunday was.  I would like to begin this newsletter by thanking the PTA, especially Jacquie Dodson and Rachael Morris for all of the hard work and effort that was put in by this highly

motivated and well lead group of parents. 

The planning and effort that goes into making the fair the huge success that it is, is massive.

A big thank you also to all of the people who helped on the day, it was brilliant to see so many of our community pitch in and help out on what will be the last fair to be held at 62 Church Street.

And finally thank you to everyone that supported the fair by attending and enjoying what was a great day.


Over the number of years that I have been involved with the school fair I have always thought that it was a corner stone of our community.  It is a day when the extended school community comes together and has a day of family fun and as a bonus much needed funds are raised for our school.  To see the happy faces around the school, for me, makes the day a success.


Over the next weeks summer sports become a real focus so please ensure that all pupils representing our school are in the correct uniform and are playing sport in the correct spirit.



Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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

This term the overall theme that we are looking at is keeping ourselves safe.

The pupils at the moment are working with John Somerfield from the New Zealand Police on the joint teaching programme “keeping ourselves safe” (KOS) and later on all pupils will attend a beach education day that will educate them on how to stay safe at the beach (and around water) during our summer months.  The senior classes will also be receiving swimming lessons to help ensure that they are able to keep themselves safe around this potential hazard this summer.

Constable Summerfield held a parent education evening last week that was very informative for all who attended. The underlying theme I took from it and have myself taught over the years is to keep talking to our  children.  Often the temptation during the teenage years is to let them do their own thing as long as they appear to be doing no harm.  But the problem with this philosophy is that by the time we come aware an issue has arisen something that was small will have become huge.

The work on the new site is continuing at a steady pace and to celebrate the end of our time at 62 Church Street our annual fair will be held this Sunday, so please try to support the school by attending the last ever fair at 62 Church Street!

 Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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

After a  long period during which few, if any visible changes took place on the new building site the last week has been a literal hive of activity.

The temporary access road has been put in and the clearing of the site is progressing at pace to enable the beginning of the driving of the piles so that Rooms 4 and 5 can be shifted during the holidays.

It is a very exciting time at the school with: along side the acceleration of work at the new school site the smart new sports uniforms have arrived; the two class rooms, the storage room and the reading room at the western end of the main block are all empty and being prepared for the shift.  And of course this is the week during which ‘Animal Antics’ our annual school production is being staged.  It promises to be a great show so please make every effort to get along.

Early next term is our schools annual fair, this day is always highly successful both in terms of money raised and as a great social day for the families, but this year is going to be special, it is our final fair based at 62 Church Street.  All of the money raised will be used to ensure that our move to our new school will be highly successful, so please support our hard working and highly motivated P.T.A. and this will ensure that our shift will be a major success.

As this is the last newsletter for the term I would like to thank all of the people who have helped at school over the term, sport coaches, people who have worked in classes, those who have gone on trips and camp, and especially the P.T.A. and B.O.T. the amount of time and effort that these groups put in is often  not recognized—so thank you.

Next term will be a huge term for the school, our aim is to ensure that your children’s learning is effected as little as possible by the shift while ensuring that it is an experience that they will remember.

Have a great week and a happy and safe holiday.

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

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

Despite the snow that fell last week spring is definitely here and except for a few hockey representative players children’s winter sport is definitely over for the year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the parents who have coached, managed or supported our sports teams over the winter months.  As I look at the models of schools that succeed in sport the two key factors that lead to their success is continual support and skill development. 


So thank you once again to all of you, your continual support leads to your children having a greater range of opportunities and enjoying greater success!


I would also like to thank and acknowledge the parents who helped with making the celebration of the First Holy Communion for our pupils so special.  The celebration of the Sacraments is obviously a hugely important part of our schools special character.  The preparation that the children put in, and thank you to the parents who lead this, is crucial to underline the importance of the sacraments to us.

The leadership of Father Michael and Mrs Dillon has made the whole process a highly successful and enjoyable experience.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


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

Over the past week I have been involved in a number of rolls in a range of sporting codes.  From spectator to selector, from coach to supporter, and reflecting back on these experiences I would like to share some observations with you.

Firstly children succeed in sport when they enjoy the sport and are playing it because it is something that they want to do.  Often you will see children who have been pushed by their parents drop out at high school because they had become so afraid of failing that sport was not enjoyable.

The rule of ten thousand definitely is still a major factor, that is that to achieve at a high level you need to put in a minimum of ten thousand hours at your selected sport, but if you want children to put in anything like this level of effort then two factors are vital: they must have excellent support and they must enjoy what they are doing—feel part of a team or group.

My daughter’s hockey team has had a very successful season and the reason for this lies in their coaches ability to take a diverse group of girls ranging in age from 13-18 and including a national representative and some who only play for the school, and welding them into a team.

She was able to achieve this by her own skills but also by the fact that the older members in her team were real leaders.  Despite the fact; in one case they could have been playing for New Zealand one day and the next playing against South Otago, there was no self aggrandisement or self promotion but rather they emphasized the no ‘I’ in team saying.

The rest of the team responded to this leadership.  There was no talking down but only encouragement, no rebukes yelled but only encouragement, no snide remarks but rather support for a common goal.

I would suggest that sport here becomes a metaphor for life, if we want our team to succeed we need to focus on the collective not on our own aspirations.

Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan


Monday, August 27, 2012

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

Last week I had the absolute privilege of going ‘on camp’ with our senior pupils.  The programme that Mrs Baines designed was excellent, it was a perfect balance between: outdoor education, social

sciences, science and life skills.


The highlight for  many would have been the skiing and as one pupil expressed to me. “When I first

arrived I was scared to go on the learners slope and now I can ski anywhere”! encapsulates the

development in confidence and motivation that the group went through during the week.

My personal highlight was the trip to the Arrowtown museum, when the pupils went to 1880’s school.

“Miss Grey” scared me and I was only watching, but the programme highlighted now education has changed and how lucky we are to have now the New Zealand National Curriculum.


I would like to thank all of the parents who helped out on camp, with out you all we would never have achieved all that we did and once again acknowledge the huge effort put in by Mrs Baines.  The

success of the camp was down to the hard work that she put in with regards planning and designing the camp over the preceding months.

Our Year Seven and Eight camp has become something of an institution and when I see the positive

effects that it has for our pupils then I am more than ever determined to ensure that it continues.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan

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

Here we are in Week Six and as usual we have a busy week planned.  The senior children are away at camp in Queenstown.

School camps are a tradition in New Zealand and all of us would fondly remember them from when we were children.  I went to a small country school so our school camps tended to be in Dunedin which was a real eye opener to kids from the ‘Styx’.  But most children would have learned to kayak and climb rocks, abseil and generally challenge themselves in a range of stimulating outdoor experiences.

School camps and the opportunities that they present to our pupils cannot be over estimated.  We don’t know what we are capable of until we try.

On Sunday night I watched a documentary about Palmerston North Boys High and the ethos that they had, one of tradition and challenging your self to be better.  I think that we can learn a lot from that.I am always keen for St Mary’s pupils to present a good first impression, by ensuring that their grooming is neat, dress appropriately, and that they use good manners.

To make a good first impression puts you on the front foot when dealing with a potential employer, or someone who can offer you a place in a course or school or select you in a team.  First impressions really do count.

 I will be at the Senior school camp in Queenstown this week—Mrs Kenneally and Mrs Stevens will be Acting Principal.

 Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan