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