Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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


One of the worlds great sports contests is taking part in Australia at the moment.  I am talking of course of the Ashes cricket series.  Cricket is an intensely tough game mentally, it’s hard to imagine this when your youngster starts off playing section four have a go cricket; no matter what they get with 12 hits and 12 bowls.  Often who won is lost in the joy of taking part and hitting a four or taking a wicket.

But as players progress through the grades the expected standard rises, now when you are out then you are out!  Players need to be selected for teams, some make it, most don’t, every duck or dropped catch weights heavily on the player involved.

But cricket is still a team game and the longer we can maintain this as a focus the better because  it at least partially defeats the pressure from the individual.  In few team sports is the individual player so exposed if not nurtured by the team.

Cricket like all sport was designed initially as a pastime something to be done for fun.  Over it’s long history the intensity with which it is played has changed, I remember the story of the great Victorian cricketer W.G. Grace being bowled without scoring, he calmly picked the bails up, put them back on the wickets and said “more people came here to watch me bat then you bowl” and prepared to start again.  Imagine Michael Clark doing that!

But even at high level sport we can go too far.  The sledging or name calling in the series has already resulted in fines being levied and I have heard this morning that the English batsman Johnathan Trott is returning home with a stress related illness.  A number of top level cricketers in recent times have either stopped playing or at least stopped playing at the top level due to the stress that they have felt.

I’m not sure if it’s a factor only in modern life or if stress has always been significant in people’s lives.  Maybe it’s the speed we now travel or the amount we try to cram in.  Recently in our year eight class we have talked about spirituality and nurturing the soul.  Communication and taking down time are vital, but also so is looking at the big picture.

Few people look back at getting a ‘golden duck’ or coming last in a race, or not making a team in year 5, when they are 50, as a disaster!

Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Well here we are in Week Six of Term Four already. Today a number of our pupils are off representing
the school at the Otago Primary School Sports Association Championships. I’m sure that you join with
me in wishing those pupils good luck.
Success in sport is like success in any field—the harder that you work then the better results that you
I recently attended a debrief of Otago representative hockey coaches and managers, At the end of this
meeting Dave Ross the coach of the Southern men’s team (beaten finalists the last two years), raised the
point for debate. “When is the time in sport to move from development to competition?”
His thoughts were high school as the changing point. As soon as you have tournaments, medals, cups
and representative teams, he reasoned the focus goes on winning solely and a huge amount of pressure
is then put on everybody involved but especially the child to win.
The bottom line is sport should be fun enjoyable, challenging and social. Except for a very few outstand-ing athletes, children can not look to a forward career as a professional athlete, quite simply only a tiny
percentage of people achieve this.
Those that do and sustain this success do so because of self motivation, self belief and great work ethic.
The values that we learn through sport are invaluable life skills.
As the great American football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Football is like life—it requires perseverance,
self denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority”.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Over the next five and a half weeks we begin an unbelievably busy time of the year for schools. Those of
you with children at senior secondary will most likely have already attended senior prize giving and they will now be in the middle of their NCEA externals.
Until my son started the process of gaining his NCEA qualifications I was very sceptical of their academic
rigour, however now that Sean has completed (well almost) two years of study at NCEA I can see the
benefits that they bring. The old system of one three hour exam as the sole way to assess academic
success at both Secondary and Tertiary level was a fine vehicle for some students in some subjects but I
find that NCEA is more equitable and caters for long term learning rather than simply cramming in information to answer the questions set in one three hour exam.
One of the key goals that Sean has learned is that the credits you gain in February, when you have no
pressure are worth just as much as the ones that you need to gain in November in the stress of an
external exam, so aim to run the full race, don’t walk until the finish is in sight and back yourself to have
the spirit to get across the line in time for as the immortal Robbie Burns wrote “The best laid schemes
o mice an men, Gang oft agley. An’ lea’s us nought but grief an’ pain, for promised joy”.
The same message that I support in all endeavours, I’m sure that Sir Edmund Hillary when on
approaching the peak of Everest didn’t say I wish I hadn’t prepared so much!
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
This week will be a very busy week as shorter weeks often are; we try to fit into four days what
we usually do in five.
Our senior class are off on their summer camp down at Camp Columba, just this side of Gore.
At camp the seniors will get to attempt a number of challenging activities in a controlled situation.
As I have stated before the only children who not to grow hugely during the course of this week
are those who fail to attempt the challenges before them, and over the years they
number very few. I will be attending camp with Room Seven, so Mrs Stevens will be the acting
Principal for the week.
As I sit writing this I see all of the children playing happily on the playground; and last week I
thanked all of the people who had helped at our working bee, but someone else who had a huge
hand in getting our playground installed was our former Board Chairperson Donald Mitchell.
Donald put in a huge effort behind the scenes to ensure consent was obtained to install the
playground, he also did a huge amount of work liaising with Alan Grant the installer and he even
drilled the holes for the playground foundations to be installed in, with a little help. So from
everyone at school thank you Donald for your work on this matter.
Hopefully we will all enjoy a week of sunny weather, especially for those on camp.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan,
Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Last week I had the absolute privilege to spend most of my week with the senior class on their
camp down at Camp Columba.
The group as a whole, pupils and parents were excellent to work with and the achievements that
I witnessed were excellent. Witnessing a young person face a challenge they feel is beyond
them and then confront this challenge, and overcome it is a very gratifying experience.
I wish to thank Mrs Judy Baines for her excellent planning, eye for detail and administration of
this. Camps are only a success because of the months of work that go into the planning and
preparing beforehand.
Our final Parent Information evening for the year is being held on Wednesday night.
The focus of the evening is to watch the multi award winning DVD “The Big Picture: Rethinking
Dyslexia”. This 52 minute film is designed to educate us about dyslexia. Show what indeed the
“Big Picture” is. We invite all of our parents to come along and watch this powerful educational
I look forward to seeing you there, have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan,
Room 7 Camp
Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Last week I had the absolute privilege to spend most of my week with the senior class on their
camp down at Camp Columba.
The group as a whole, pupils and parents were excellent to work with and the achievements that
I witnessed were excellent. Witnessing a young person face a challenge they feel is beyond
them and then confront this challenge, and overcome it is a very gratifying experience.
I wish to thank Mrs Judy Baines for her excellent planning, eye for detail and administration of
this. Camps are only a success because of the months of work that go into the planning and
preparing beforehand.
Our final Parent Information evening for the year is being held on Wednesday night.
The focus of the evening is to watch the multi award winning DVD “The Big Picture: Rethinking
Dyslexia”. This 52 minute film is designed to educate us about dyslexia. Show what indeed the
“Big Picture” is. We invite all of our parents to come along and watch this powerful educational
I look forward to seeing you there, have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan,
Room 7 Camp

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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

Welcome back to you all for term four.  I hardly need express to you that this will be a very busy term:  we have our inter-schools athletic sports followed by the Otago athletics championships for those who qualify, our choir is taking part in the Catholic Schools Choir Festival, all classes going are on trips to the art gallery, the senior pupils have their annual camp in Pukerau, all the senior classes have swimming lessons and our highly popular school fair takes place this weekend and finally of course we have our end of the concert and celebrations to acknowledge our year eight leavers.  Whew!


Already many of you will have noticed the number of tasks that have been completed during the holidays; and playground is now operational.  Thank you to all of the people who gave up their

Saturday morning to spread woodchips, it was gratifying to see such a huge turn out of people willing to give up their time to help out our school.

Recent studies that I have read underline the fact that one of the most important factors in

children achieving at school both academically and socially is parental engagement.  This is a highly important factor right throughout your child’s education, even at Year 13 when you can’t help them with their applied maths homework or answer their questions on quantum physics the fact that you support, discuss and are part of their lives is affirming.

I remember being a speaker at a forum supporting transition from early childhood education to primary a number of years ago; at the end of the formal presentation we asked for questions from the floor –a relatively new dad, who was preparing to send his first child to school stood up and said how much time and effort he had put into visiting a huge number of schools, reading ERO reports and talking to parents at schools.  He had, he said decided on the right school for his child and now he would step back and let the school teach, Another speaker—one far wiser than me replied—that rather than see that he had completed a process he should think that he was now only at the beginning of a long but ultimately fulfilling journey, our children are only young once and the time we spend with them is time we cannot regain.  So talk to your child and ensure that you remain an important part of their lives.


Have a great term

Mike Brosnahan,



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Well here we are in the final week of the term. Spring weather is upon us and judging by the
number of pupils off school today due to illness the holidays are coming at about the right time.
Due to the exceptional growth that we have experienced in our school roll this year, and indeed
for 2014, we have made some changes to our organization for next term.
Miss Payne’s class will move into Room 6, Some of Mrs Ngatai’s children are moving into Mrs
Steven’s room from the beginning of term 4.
Mrs Stevens’ class will move into Room 5. Mrs O’Neill will teach some of Mrs Stevens’ class in
Room Two in the mornings. After school care will be held in the north end of the learning high-way.
As with all changes there will be a few small challenges along the way, but I know that with the
ability we have at St Mary’s to work as a team, these changes will ensure the best learning
environment is available for all of our pupils.
I hope that everyone is able to enjoy a restful holiday and comes back refreshed ready for the
final run to the post, as it were.
Have a great break
Mike Brosnahan,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Often I ask people, in fact sometimes I plead, to let me know of people who are potentially likely to enrol
at our school. The reason for this is to enable the strategic management of our classes to ensure that
each and every child learns in the best teaching and learning environment available.
We are a school that is blessed with a growing roll; we will have nearly a third more new entrant enrolments at the end of the year than is our average. I have a large number of people on our waiting list for
open enrolments as far down the track as 2016, although some places do exist in certain enrolment windows.
Unfortunately the model by which schools are staffed is one that requires a lot of prediction and
estimation—so the more hard facts that you have access to, the more accurate that your assessments
are. So if you know of any people who are thinking of enrolling at St Mary’s especially for next year
where we already have a large number of enrolments, then please have them contact me as soon as
Sunday was a great day for our school with a lovely Mass during which a number of our pupils received
their first Holy Communion. This was followed by a morning tea to celebrate this occasion.
Congratulations to all of those who made their first communion and a huge thank you to all of those who
helped to make this day a success: the kind parents who supplied food for the morning tea, the great
group of people who organised the morning tea function, the talented choir but especially to Father
Michael and Mrs Mary Dillon, thank you. A day like Sunday highlights the old Irish saying “Ni neartt go cur le cheile”, there’s strength in unity.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan, Principal

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Last night I had the privilege of watching our Senior A basketball team win the Year 8 boys
Competition. It was to my mind anyway an emphatic victory based on a team that utilized the
individual strengths of its members and welded these together to form an unbeatable team unit.
I was very impressed with the coaching of John Peita who got the very best out of every player
and ensured that because he valued everybody's contribution, everyone contributed. Well done
Team. This was another first for our school who alongside winning the South Taieri School
Cross Country Cup for the first time, winning the St Joseph’s v St Mary’s interschool for the first
time have now won the Otago Year 8 boys basketball competition.
To some degree when a relatively small group of people beat far large groups of people in a
sporting contest it reminds me of a saying of my father’s—”it’s not the size of the dog in the fight,
it’s the fight in the dog.” But I am especially pleased when teams like ours have success be-cause it rewards all that we stand for but especially loyalty. Do some players like Chistiano
Ronaldo who travel from one top team to another seeking to be a member of a winning unit ever
get as much from team success as a local player like say Paul Grant who has stuck with the one
province through good and bad, thick and then. I think not.
Loyalty is a two edged sword but one that once one side is damaged can only be returned to its
former lustre by sharpening the damaged side not by blunting the sharp side for if this
happens the effectiveness of the relationship ends.
Once again to John and his team of Stars—WELL Done!
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan, Principal
Room 3
Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
As we move into the season of spring it is a good time to reflect on how our year has gone so
far—on where we have come from and where we are now. It was in mid-August last year that
Donald Mitchell and I were told by the Catholic Property Services that we would be moving our
school to the Holy Cross site, and that we would be beginning the new school year in the new
school! The rest as they say is history—while there remains loose ends to tidy up we are on the
new site and in our new school. The effort and energy of a small group of dedicated people has
allowed this to happen.
I think with regards to the opportunity that we have been given, it was best put by the famous
British war time Prime Minister Winston Churchill who said “This is not the end, it is not even the
beginning of the end but rather it is the end of the beginning”. That I think is how we need to
view our new site; a beginning!
The Stars on Stage group perform at the Regent Theatre tonight and I would like to congratulate
the group on all of their effort and to thank Miss Payne for her hard work and determination to put
this high quality performance together.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan
Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Yesterday I attended the funeral of an ex-pupil of our school, a young man that I was lucky to
have had the privilege to have taught. Anthony Smith attended St Mary’s for eight years and
during his time at our school he was always one of those pupils that every teacher enjoyed
teaching. His death is a tragedy and one that will affect many people deeply.
We remember, Gina and her family in our prayers and every little act of kindness and support will
I know be welcomed. If you feel that you or your child needs to talk to anyone about this sad
event then please contact me and I will make the necessary arrangements.
We are coming to the end of our winter sports season and many teams are taking part in
playoffs. I wish good luck to all of our teams who are taking part in any of these events, but
please remember all anybody can ask is that you personally and as a member of a team, give
your best.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Next week we host Paul Ferris and his team from the Catholic Review Office. They will come
into our school to look at how our school’s Special Character manifests itself. The key phrase I
believe in this is “our schools” special character. All schools are different because they serve
different communities or Parishes comprised of different mixes of people.
St Mary’s special Catholic Character will be subtly different from other Catholic Primary Schools;
we are the only surviving full primary, we are the only Catholic School on the Taieri, we have
children from rural and urban families, our ethnic mix and the backgrounds of our staff,
pupils, parents and parish will be unique. Even our physical setting in a new school is unique.
The challenge for us all is to ensure that within our unique setting we ensure that our school lives
the values and Charism of The Mercy Sisters and the Catholic Church. That our pupils live by a
moral compass based on the Gospel and that as a school at the beginning of the twenty first
century we ensure that we are instilling in our pupils all that they need to be Catholic Christians
in an ever changing modern world.
John Wayne in his epic film ‘True Grit’ said “looking back is a bad habit” and to a degree I can
see what he means. We don’t want to become focused on the past and things that we can’t
change, but we equally need to consider the saying “those who don’t learn from history are
doomed to repeat it”. What we need to do is to learn from the past to give our young people the
skills, values and attitudes that they need to work in the present and to move confidently into the
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Over the past week one major topic has caught the imagination of local people: the potential loss
of a large number of jobs at the Invermay Research Centre. The loss of each of these jobs,
when added to other job losses in Dunedin is a highly significant event. Each job lost is a family
that needs to reconsider it’s future; do we stay or do we go? Centralization is a model that brings
with it huge risks. We only have to look at the South Island and the Christchurch Earthquake. If
all of your eggs are in one basket and the basket gets knocked over, where do you go?
Bigger is not always better and if you have only one centre of importance in each Island then you
court disaster in the event of a catastrophic event. We only need think of the floods of a few
months ago when no one South of the flooding could get bread.
This time of the year is also the time when parents are considering the educational journey that
their child will begin once they leave their primary school. Secondary school’s spend vast
amounts of money on promoting their schools. They present the very best that their school
offers while eliminating any reference to the negative. As always I urge parents to be cautious,
don’t merely look at the superficial glossy promo, but rather list what your expectations are and
ask the tough questions.
Recently a number of Taieri College leaders, including Ryan Rosevear the Head Boy, have been
working with Year Six sports teams. All of the leaders were pupils who graduated from our Year
Eight class!
To keep our Year Five and Six parents informed of the opportunities that our senior class offers,
we will be holding an information night about our senior school. It is open to all, but, we especial-ly encourage our Year Five and Six pupils and their parents to attend.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan
Room 4 “The Great Escape”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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

 Welcome back for term three, as I write this July is almost over and we are beginning to see the end of winter.

This term is going to be another busy time with a number of sports afternoons, class Masses and the continuation of the sacramental programme.  We also have groups of senior pupils taking part in the Stars on Stage dance performance and the Catholic Schools Choir.

At St Mary’s we pride ourselves on giving our pupils a wide range of opportunities to enable us to do this we rely heavily on parental support.  I would like thank all of those parents who give up their time to support us, thank you.


One of the highlights of my position is meeting with Principals of schools that our children move to at the end of Year Eight.  Our pupils universally move into Year Nine seamlessly and judging by the feedback that I have from the high schools that our pupils go to, they achieve great things.  A full primary education ensures that our pupils are fully prepared for their move to secondary school in Year Nine (the old Third Form).  We will be holding an information evening for our senior class soon (date to be confirmed) so that the parents of pupils in Year Five and Six can appreciate fully the opportunities that our pupils get in Year Seven and Eight at St Mary’s.

Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Yesterday I had the privilege of attending our annual inter-school sports competition with St Josephs from
Oamaru. This is the fourth year that this event has been held and again from the point of view of sports-man ship and participation, it was a great success. The first time the event was held we lost the rubber
3-2. The deciding event was the girls B netball which we lost 8-9. Then over the following two years we
struggled for success winning only the occasional game. Yesterday, however was a revelation. We
narrowly lost the B basketball but then won the A basketball and football by large margins and a great
team effort in the rugby ensured that we would win the challenge shield for the first time.
Then the netball girls put on a brave effort against much larger athletes and never gave in. The after
match afternoon and prize giving was a nice occasion and was a great chance for the competitors to
The success that we enjoyed was due to the hard work put in by our teams and their coaches before
hand, so I would like to officially thank Simone Reynolds, Ray Kelly, John Hyde, John Peita (who also refereed the rugby) Jane Abernethy, Stacey Peita and also Mrs Matheson for preparing the teams. Also I’d
like to thank all of the parents who helped to ensure the success of the event by their behind the scenes
support. But especially I’d like to thank Mrs Baines for her stewardship and organisational skills that
ensured the successes of the whole day.
As this is the ;last week of the term I wish you all a great break and look forward to seeing you back next
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
What a week of wild weather we have just experienced, while the snow never really eventuated
the cold rain, winds and general greyness tell us that winter is well and truly here.
Most winter sports (of the outdoor variety) has been put on hold until the grounds dry up.
Initially I was sceptical of this happening at all before spring but the winds we have experienced
over the past few days have certainly dried up our ‘Lake’ and the grounds are almost at a
suitable standard for the pupils to play on at lunch time.
Next Sunday (30th June) we will be holding a family Mass and opening our new school for the
parish and general public to visit, from 10-11am. We would appreciate a good turn out at Mass
and it would be great to have a number of children at the opening to answer questions and act as
tour guides.
A pupil attending Mass or the Open Day needs to be in full dress uniform i.e. no tracksuit
The reason we have decided to hold this open day is as a small way of thanking our greater
community for their support over a number of years but also to publicise and highlight the great
new facility that we have.
The final pieces of the puzzle are lining up as the team from A.J. Grant have begun to put the
playgrounds in. Thank you to Donald Mitchell and Grant Dodson for their hard work in digging
the holes to put the playground in over the weekend.
Also I would like to finish by wishing our hard working Deputy Principal Lindsay Stevens well as
she goes on sick leave to have an operation on her foot.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Winter has arrived with a vengeance, we are almost forced to build an ark at the beginning of the week-end and an igloo by the end. But you only have to watch the T.V. to realize that our trials and tribulations are indeed minor in comparison to those experienced in other parts of the world.
It is very important that on mornings where the weather is extreme that you check to see that school is open at the normal time or indeed at all. For the places to check we have put in an article later in the newsletter, but once again I say please check, as while you may deem it possible for your child to walk to school, a number of other factors come into play to determine if school will be shut or have a late start.
The reasons include: the state of the roads (do police deem them safe for use), the possibility for the
weather to get worse (nobody wants the situation of trying to get children home in a blizzard), the ability for the teachers and children from outlying districts to get to school (while the majority of our teachers live in the Mosgiel area a number don’t and putting them or the bus children at risk is not an option. But ultimately the bottom line is one of safety for all.
The call to either start late or close the school for the day is made by the local Principals’ Association in consultation with Civil Defence, the Met service and the Police. The reason for this is obvious as having one collective announcement for all primary schools means individual schools do not clog up the cancellation sites with a variety of notices and parents only need to listen for one notice, not one in a huge range of similar notices that could lead to confusion i.e. St Mary’s could be either Mosgiel, Milton or Kaikorai.
I am always hopeful that the predicted snow will pass us by and I know my sheep would agree but on the off chance the forecasts are correct please use the procedure to check that school is open.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan
The triennial Board of Trustee elections were held last week and I would like to offer my thanks
to all of the candidates who stood for election (we are truly lucky to have such a high level of
people ready, willing and able to govern our school) and to congratulate the successful candi-dates.
I would like here to offer my thanks and gratitude to the BOT members who are standing down.
The last three years (Board of Trustees term) has been a busy one: we had visits from the Edu-cation Review Office team, The Catholic Education Review Office. We had a new school built
and moved onto the new site, we saw the advent of ‘National Standards’ and have endured the
‘Novopay’ debacle and we have developed a new Strategic Plan that will guide our school into
the future. All of these tasks have been completed to a high degree and with a great level of
This success is only possible because of the excellent governance that our school received over
the previous term. So to Donald Mitchell (outgoing Board of Trustees Chairperson), Donna
Burns, Sally McNeilly and Marty McArthur, on behalf of the school community, thank you!
We have just concluded our consultation on homework in school, and I have received a wide
range of opinions and suggestions. This information will now be collated and presented to a
Board of Trustees meeting along side other relevant information and some recommendations.
I envisage a parent information night early next term to explain what our homework recommendation will be.
A huge thank you to our resident handyman Mr Dave Scott (Connor and Callum’s father) who
gave a day of his time last week to put up a number of shelves around the school.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Welcome back for week five of Term Two.
The weather continues to ebb and flow from snow on Tuesday to T-shirts on Saturday. This type
of weather is perfect for breeding germs so please remember to cover those basic heath rules
with your children: ensure that they wash their hands for at least 30 seconds and dry them for the
same time at the appropriate times, that they cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing and
that if they are sick, you then please keep them at home.
Often children are only contagious for a short period of time 24-48 hours and by isolating them it
means that they can’t spread their bugs to other children (and risk getting re-infected
The voting for the Board of Trustees elections concluded last week but the ballot doesn’t officially
close for another couple of days to ensure that all postal votes are included.
Next week I will be including a personal tribute to the out going Board acknowledging their efforts
over their (in some cases multiple) term of office. I wish to thank them all for their hard work and
the hours that they have put in.
I wish to thank all of the people who have sent in feedback for our consultation on homework.
Homework is often a contentious subject in some schools with some schools giving large
amounts (I know of one school that gives new entrants 35-40 minutes per night), to some giving
none. Research can be found that supports both points of view. The challenge is to ensure that
what homework is given is relevant, interesting and received in a positive manner.
Once the consultation process has concluded I will be collating all of the information and then
working with the staff to develop a homework scheme that works for our school over the next
three years. We will hold a parent information night in term three to explain our homework
practices and to give some advice on how to make learning at home fun.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan
Assembly Roo

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Over the weekend I watched with my family the film adaptation of Victor Hugo novel “Les
Miserables”. I have seen the stage adaptation at least three times but as a film the story became
more personal. It was a story of forgiveness and charity, and also honour and responsibility, but
I think ultimately it was about forgiveness and how not being able to forgive can lead to you
being eaten up inside.
The Jean Valjean character has served 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his
starving nephew, upon his release he is put on a ‘parole’ which means that for the rest of his life
he will be a watched and discriminated against man. Shown kindness by an elderly clergyman
he repays the kindness by stealing from the Priest. Quickly he is caught and brought back to
face his victim, however the priest insists not only that he gave Valjean what he had stolen but
that he should have taken more. This idea of paying it forward has been dealt on before and in
Jean Valjean we have an extreme case but the point is he learns from the old Priest about
forgiveness and he learns that true charity is done with no thought of recognition nor reward.
New Zealand in a recent U.A. study has come under criticism for the high rate of our children
who live in poverty. Obviously education is one way to confront and defeat poverty—as a wise
man once said “give a man a fish and you feed them for a day, teach them how to fish and you
feed them forever”.
So schemes like the milk in schools scheme are great because they ensure that children are
able to enjoy their learning with a nutritious drink inside.
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan

Monday, May 20, 2013

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

Yesterday I attended a Principal’s meeting with a group of Principals from a range of schools state and integrated, large and small, rural and urban.  Two had just started in new positions that were significantly different from their previous positions.

Days like this are always invaluable as when they are finished you are able to put your own schools situation into perspective.

All schools face similar challenges, Novopay, National Standards, property matters, changing

demographics and an ever changing social landscape.  Different schools have different ways of dealing with these matters, one size doesn’t fit all and one approach is not always the correct or the only one.  The important thing is that we have a shared goal, that being, to achieve the best that we can for our children.

At St Mary’s despite the pressure of national standards, we strive to maintain a broad and inclusive curriculum.  The logic behind this is simple, if we want our children to be good at reading and writing we need to develop in them a range of topics and interests that they what to read and write about.  The idea of leading a horse to water but not being able to force the horse to drink!  We can teach a pupil to read and write to a basic level but to achieve at the expected level to achieve NCEA, a pupil needs to be widely read and be able to write confidentially on a range of topics.  To do this they need to be engaged in living a broad life.  Parents can help by ensuring that their children have access to a range of social outlets, and that reading and writing and math's are modelled to them by their parents.

But also talk about things that you have seen and done.  It never ceases to amaze me when I chat about things with my own children how different a perspective they have to some ideas and events.


Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


I am pleased to announce that the final barrier to have our school playgrounds installed was
overcome yesterday.
We have reached a compromise with one of our neighbour's who was previously not happy with
the site of our playgrounds and as a result of this we anticipate no further hold ups.
The installation has been booked and has a three to four week timeframe. So hopefully in a
month both playgrounds will be in use.
This process has been long, taxing and at times very frustrating. I would like to thank Donald
Mitchell (BOT Chairperson) and Martin Dillon (ex BOT Chairperson) who supplied the required
amounts of knowledge, determination and tenacity to see this task through.
The winter sports season is now in full swing and a large number of us are busy either watching,
coaching, or managing our children’s teams.
I am a major supporter of sport and firmly believe that young people learn a huge range of life
skills when they play a team sport. I was fortunate enough to be at a function recently where
Paul MacDonald the Olympic Champion was speaking and he raised the point that every Olym-pic level athlete had had a number of coaches who had given up hours of time to support the
athlete. Some where highly qualified and experienced, some (normally when younger) where
not. But all coaches put in a huge effort and without them most teams could not function.
Children play for enjoyment—if they enjoy their sport they keep playing. I coached Year Nine
cricket team and we had a lot of wins that year but why I deem that team was successful is
because 100% of those boys still play cricket.
Have a great week. Mike Brosnahan
Welcome back to all for Term Two. As I look out of my window today on a typically lovely and
sunny (if brisk) Mosgiel winters day, I am happy to report that all of the building work has been
completed (except for a few remedial tasks to be tidied up) and only the last of the site works
remain to be done.
The new library looks great and we envisage that it will be totally functional within a month.
We want to ensure that all of our books are entered correctly on the school library data base
(including new books) and that the library is setup in the best way possible before we start to
issue books.
The senior classes are out enjoying golf this morning, (it will be the junior’s turn tomorrow) with
Melanie Harper. This has been an on-going programme at St Mary’s for many years.
A number of major reasons exist for golf being encouraged as a sport for children these include:
that it is highly inclusive, it is very skill based (size or strength are almost irrelevant), it rewards
effort—the more you practice the better you get, with the various scoring systems (stroke play,
ambrose, net and gross scores, stableford etc.) a high level of numeracy skills are developed, but
most importantly it involves a lot of etiquette (simple rules for ensuring that people can work together even when they are competing against each other. All great skills for getting a head in
Have a great week.
Mike Brosnahan

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Here we are in the last week of what has been a very long and busy term for me (it started on the
sixth of January). A huge amount has been achieved in this time and while a number of
important tasks remain ongoing I think that it is important to remember the progress that has
been made.
Highlights for the term would be the finishing off of work on the main block, the finishing off of
moving our chattels from the old to the new site and unpacking, the first day of school, the official
opening and every opportunity that we have been given to show off the new school. It really has
the wow factor!
Thanks to all of the people, staff, BOT members, parents, pupils and friends who have helped us
to achieve what we have this term. It has often felt like living two lives or working two jobs but
the living on a building site life is coming to an end and next term promises a return to the normal
busy place that is St Mary’s School.
Next term we look forward to our annual public speaking festival with Outram School, seeing a
number of our pupils Confirmed, our annual senior sports interchange with St Joseph’s Oamaru
and a number of other exciting events yet to be confirmed.
Have a great and relaxing holiday.
Mike Brosnahan, Principal.
Recently I was reminded of the famous story of Robert the Bruce and this spider. This story was
first told to me by my Scottish Grandfather and the message that it has is just as strong today as
it was all of the years ago when it was first written.
As many of you remember the story goes, that the Scottish were fighting the English (again) and
losing (again), they were losing so badly that Robert the Bruce who was leading the Scottish
forces has to flee with what remained of his army and hide seeking refuge in a cave. The end
was in sight, the English had all but claimed victory and despondently the Bruce sat in his cave
and stared at the walls. On the wall he noticed a spider trying to build a web, but so smooth and
hard were the rock walls that it couldn’t get the threads to bind on the wall. Every time that it had
almost succeeded the threads failed and the spider plunged to the cave floor, where it would pick
itself up, climb the cave wall again and start from scratch. Time and time again this happened
and the Bruce could not believe that the spider would continue to try to build a web after so many
failures. But it did until eventually it got one of it’s threads to stick, and then another until it was
able to complete its web.
Inspired by what he had witnessed the Bruce fought of his despondent feelings and rallied his
men to fight the English once again for their independence, with a new resolve and his army be-hind him Robert the Bruce fought Edward Army once again at Bannock Burn and his victory led
to him being crowned King of an independent Scotland.
Mike Brosnahan, Principal

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


As we move into the season of Easter it is a time to reflect on the meaning that this special season has for us as Christians.  One theme that I always relate to Easter is the idea of personal responsibility, and taking ownership for our own actions. Owning up for them, atoning for them and moving forward.

I often think of John 8:7 “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”.

How much more simple and equitable life would be if we all lived by this idea.  If we haven’t done anything wrong then we are free to punish others, or in its inverse form if we have sinned then we should  forgive others.

The one simple little ethos that I always spend a lot of time on with the Year 8 RE class is the ‘Golden Rule’ Matthew 7:12, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets”.

If we all lived by these ideas imagine, no violence, no gossip, no thinking the worst of people, no moaning when things don’t go your way—because you wouldn’t want this done to you.

Christ was an inspiration to us all but often we let things get in the way of us doing the right thing.

Our special challenge as parents is to do the right thing, so that we model it for our children.  Its no surprise that children exposed to violence, to gossip, to racism and other social ills at home model these character flaws in their own lives.

The Easter period gives us all a chance to reflect on our Christians values and to attempt to live a life more like Jesus.

Have a great week and a Holy Easter.

Mike Brosnahan, Principal


Thursday, April 18, 2013

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


One of the gifts that my son got for Christmas was a book on Bear Grylls the explorer, adventurer and television host.  The theme of the book is how to enjoy and be successful in life.  He uses a number of metaphors based on putting himself in life threatening situations and working on how to get out of them, and equating this with everyday life.  One theme that comes through strongly is to stay positive and to try to surround your self with positive people.  For many of us this maybe an aspirational goal but I know that when I work with positive people I look forward to accepting the challenge, even if I know it will be difficult.


I coach a cricket team with a guy who is always positive, he always sees the glass half full.  A player gets a first ball duck and Craig will find a positive.  After all the player is already feeling bad he doesn’t need any negative vibes.  Think about what happened in the cool light of day and work on it at practice.

Our team faces challenges, we have a vast range of talents.  These are mainly Year 12 and 13 boys so we have personality and attitudes to deal with, but because we have a positive environment the task never seems daunting, win, lose or draw.

Bear has a lot of points on how to maintain a positive focus, but one that I thought was really good was to look at failures as steps to success.  I think the other point is to strive to see the good in everyone and in every situation, not always easy but with practice it becomes a habit.  A great example would be the rebuild of the school, the challenges have been huge, but the gain is immense. Bear was in the SAS and their motto is ‘who dares wins’.  You can’t be more positive than this.

Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan, Principal


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


Well here we are well into week six.  This week the junior classes have begun their swimming lessons with Swimsation; learning to swim when you live in New Zealand is not just developing a pastime but rather it is learning a potential life skill that could be life saving.

As a nation we live around the sea, lakes and rivers, not to mention swimming pools.  When we get hot we all enjoy having a ‘dip’ to cool down but the trouble is that not all of the places people choose to swim are benign.  While lessons that your children receive at school will not make them Olympic champions they will develop their skills.


Please remember that on Monday next week 18th March all the teachers will be attending a paid union meeting, please read the notice for more information.


The reorganization of our school bus routes is now being ‘re-viewed’ while there will be no change for people who live within 3.2km of our school, those who live further than this may find themselves on an adjusted route.  As soon as I have a definite plan I will contact parents directly to explain how the new bus routes will operate.


Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan



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

Well week five of the term already, the children at the moment are busily completing their PAT test.  These tests are important as they are internationally recognized standardized tests and are a good way of moderating our reading and maths results, this ensures that our view of a pupils achievement lines up with what other people think.


On Monday the 18th of March the teachers will be attending a Union meeting in Dunedin, please read the accompanying note about this later in the newsletter.

A number of other events are coming up over the next weeks so please ensure that you keep a close eye on the diary of events section.

I would like to make special mention here of Jayden Grindley in Year Eight: Jayden has been

selected to take part in the Burnley Development Centre programme, this is a programme for identified talented young footballers where they receive 45 weeks of elite coaching.

Football has long since identified that to achieve at the elite level you need to put in a large number of hours of practice (10,000 hours).  So well done Jayden on this prestigious selection.


Also well done to all of those who took part in the Weetbix Kids Triathlon and thank you to Mrs Lisa Matheson for organizing this.


Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan