Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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

As I mentioned at Friday’s assembly we are now in the season of advent, our preparations for Christmas. The seasons of preparation: advent and lent, are times of reflection and

contemplation. They are a time when we think honestly about the year that has just passed and reflect on what we have achieved and on what we failed to achieve. An important focus for

people who achieve in life is to take ownership for your actions, both good and not so good. Sometimes we get it wrong and only ‘own’ the good things that we have done. Sometimes we get it wrong and only own our failures forgetting about our successes. Both of these view points can be harmful. If we only own our successes then we must blame others for all failures. If we only take ownership of our failures then we elevate others above us giving them credit for the good we have done.

People who only accept their successes and blame others for all failures struggle socially

because people around them tire quickly of being told how good that person is and being told all mistakes cannot have been made by them but must have been made by you.

People who focus on their failings become unhappy because they soon develop a sense of

never succeeding and that everybody is better than them.

Balance is the answer—accept your victories and defeats as your own. If you score the winning runs, or goal or try, acknowledge it, accept it, put it in context and move forward. If you made a mistake that led to a defeat, remember that as being a moment in a game during which you will have contributed many good things.

Success and failure is often defined by centimetres and seconds. In a hockey game that my daughter Grace was playing in this year, (the final of the national tournament) late in the game the scores were tied 2-2, with only a few minutes to go. It looked as though the game was going to ‘strokes’.

Grace had the ball, the other team were pressing hard on defense. She held the ball and drew a number of defenders to her. Then once they had committed to tackling her she turned and fired a long pass back to her full back, to enable the team to attempt a back and round. (This is a technique in hockey where you draw the opposition to your side of the field then pass the ball back and to the other side of the field to create space for your players to attack in).

Just as Grace passed their striker anticipated the move and raced to cut off the pass. It looked like she would succeed creating a one on one with the goalie—in hockey almost a certain goal. She reached for the ball, missed by centimetres and Graces team mate trapped the ball quickly pass the ball up the wing and the movement lead to the winning goal. A few centimetres the

other way and the result would have been quite different. Life is like that, we try hard, we do our best but sometimes the margin of a few centimetres or a second is the difference between

success and failure. If we accept victory by a few seconds then we should accept failure, if then we accept loss by a centimetre then we should accept victory in the same way.

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Well here we are in week nine of what has been a very busy term. Today the three junior classes are off to the beach, the forecast is good although the sky doesn’t look so inviting.

Over the rest of the week the other classes will also be visiting the beach to enjoy "Beach Education day". This programme is designed to teach young New Zealanders the skills needed to be safe around the beach at summer time. We present it to our pupils every two years to compliment their swimming
programme which finished last week.

Tonight the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be being performed at the Church. For one group of pupils this will be their first Reconciliation and marks the beginning for them of the year in which they will make their sacraments. We celebrate this sacrament at this time because of course, we are in the season of advent.

Advent is a season of preparations and reflection—a time of healing if you will. So taking part in the rite of reconciliation at this time allows people time to celebrate for the feast of Christmas.

As with all schools over the next week there are a number of celebrations and events so please check closely the time table sections of the newsletter to ensure that you don’t miss any of these events.

As we move into the season of "Goodwill to Man" please remember that while this is a busy time it is also a time of great joy for we celebrate the birth of Christ.
Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan


Monday, November 24, 2014

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

I was at a function recently where a man told a very insightful story.

"A young man returned to attend his secondary school fair after leaving a few years earlier.

On arriving he saw his old headmaster working on a stall. Immediately he became overwhelmed with guilt. He approached his old teacher and said "Excuse me headmaster, do you remember me?" "Yes I remember you, how are you," was the reply.

"Headmaster I need to talk to you privately for a moment", the young man said. "Can you come over here?" The headmaster followed the young man over to a quiet place and the young man said "headmaster do you remember several years ago when a terrible story was going around about you?" The headmaster said, "Yes that story was proven to be a lie but it still caused a huge amount of pain and hurt to me, my family and the school." The boy said, "Headmaster it was me who made up the story and I am so sorry. I just want you to know that I will never do anything like it again."

The headmaster looked at the young man for a moment and said "Follow me". The young man followed the headmaster and as the headmaster strode past, he grabbed a handful of inflated helium balloons, dropped a handful on money on the counter and strode on. As the young man followed the headmaster they walk across the field, up to the high school bell tower, up the stairs to the platform at the top. When the young man had joined him the headmaster said, "You said that you were sorry and you wanted to make things right. Well O.K. bring these balloons back to me!" On saying this he released the balloons. A wind immediately caught them and they soared up into the air, scattering in all directions. "Headmaster I can never catch up and bring all of those balloons back, it’s impossible" the young man said.

"That’s what happens when you tell lies or gossip," the headmaster said. "Once it’s said you can never undo or bring it back"!

He looked at the young man and said, "I can see that you are sorry and I hope you have learned something. Lies and gossip are like the balloons in the wind, they scatter and go in all directions, and they are impossible to take back!"

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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

Well here we are in week five already.

Last week I attended my son’s last ever prize giving. After 13 years of schooling he now has five exams and a leavers dinner and then as they say, he is his own man. Next year he is going to read Law at Otago University and having spent time with a friend who is a lawyer he is sure that this is the field for him.

Sean has always been a single-minded person, if he set his sights on something then he would work hard to achieve it. He has the ability to totally focus on something and produce the results he aspires to. He has already achieved NCEA level three and while some students would now cruise he has set new goals, excellence endorsement. His school has worked for him, but it

didn’t just happen by dropping him off and five years later picking him up. We knew our son, we knew what school would best suit his needs and we were proactive in getting him in there. I would find it hard to list the number of interviews, prize giving's, meetings and seminars that we have attended, we coached sport and worked at the fete and supported each and every co-curricular activity. So yes Sean’s secondary school worked for him, but it worked because we were involved in his life, we supported him and his school and we ensured a positive two way relationship between home and his teachers. To such a degree that after the prize giving I found that I spent most of my time thanking them and reminiscing over the years.

But as they say "time and tide wait for no man", Sean now moves on to tertiary education.

So as our year eights begin their secondary education I would offer these words of advice—be involved in your child’s life—in their school and get to know their teachers. It will not always be easy but if you start as you aim to finish it will work out.

Have a great week


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

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

What a great day Sunday was, the weather before the event was doubtful but the weather on the day was as good as the organisation—perfect.

I’d like to thank the PTA as a group and specifically the smaller group who co-ordinated the fair, Kellea Williams, Antoinette O’Brien, Denise Scott, Sharon Wilson, and Sonja O’Brien. You don’t run such a successful fair without a huge amount of hard work. So from the whole school

community thank you.

School fairs, like all curricula activities accomplish a huge amount, yes they bring needed funds into our school but they put school into context. School is a part of a young person and their families life. An important part and like all important things the more you put in the more you get back.

This is a lesson that is learned not by something that happens in the class room but rather by what happens in all areas of our lives. The pupil who is naturally big and fast will only go so far in sport if they don’t work hard at their skills and practice. The pupil who reads from an early age will not become a renowned academic if they don’t apply themselves to their studies.

As Derek Jeter the American baseballer said: "There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you".
Mike Brosnahan 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
It seems to start earlier each year people are preparing for Christmas, end of year functions and prizegivings are booked, secondary pupils have only days of their school year left, senior pupils are preparing for exams and the university is emptying out. Soon we will be seeing ‘Santa’

parades and decorations going up.

The sad thing is that while this time of the year should be the time for good will to all and people should be able to enjoy a relaxed and spiritual time we seem determined to fit as many functions and events in as we can and the result is a very stressful time of the year.

We can try to take the pressure off by picking the functions and events that we attend, by
allowing ourselves and our families some down time. A time to reflect, a time to chill, a time for some spiritual healing.

Over the next few weeks our school has a very busy time with: the fair, athletics, the sacramental programme and senior swimming. Then we begin our beach education programme, and
preparation for our end of year celebrations.

Please enjoy these occasions where you can with us and attempt to make our Christmas term a time enjoyed by all.

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan

Room 3 Children are settling

Thursday, October 23, 2014

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

Last week I attended an evening for the ‘locals’ at Otago University. The ‘locals’ is a group formed to give the local (Dunedin/Mosgiel) students the same opportunities as the students who live in one of the

Colleges (Halls of Residence).

One of the leaders of the locals, a group far larger the any of the colleges was an ex St Mary’s pupil.

I was very proud to see Mel Warhurst up front talking to a group of about 100 parents and prospective students, then circulating and ‘working the room’. This highlighted to me what we strive to achieve at St Mary’s—namely to give our pupils the best start possible to ensure that when they finish their secondary schooling they have all of the attributes; academic, social, physical, emotional and spiritual required to ensure that they are able to achieve what they want in life.

Mel is studying for a focusing on human resources and her next step is to complete an internship with the Highlanders.

An American educational researcher Malcolm Gladwell has made the assertion that success breeds

success, nothing new there. But he goes on to say that it is far better to be a big fish in a small pond and enjoy success than to be a small fish in a big pond, even if the big pond is one that everyone thinks is a really good pond. What he talks about is based on research at high school and university level in the United States where students who where the top of small schools did far better in exams and indeed in life than average pupils at a big school.

I have seen this over a number of years, our leaders (big fish in a small pond) go on to do great things in the big pond of high school because they are used to success.

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan


Thursday, October 16, 2014

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

Welcome back to everyone for term four. As you will have noticed there have been some changes during the holidays. The senior block is now the same colour as the rest of the school and it is looking very smart. And Room 3 is now full of pupils. We have had such a rapid growth in the junior part of our school that a new class was required to keep the number in the rooms at a level that was optimum for teaching and learning.

To help with planning for next year, if you know of any enrolments for 2015 please let me know as soon as possible. We already have 17 enrolments for next year which is excellent but it helps with planning to know our projected numbers.

The annual school musical was held in the last week of last term and it was a major success, a number of people told me the best ever. I would like to thank all of the staff and parents who helped out and of course the brilliant pupils. A special thank you to the Baines family for the visual effects which took the show to a new level.

This term is looking to be a very busy one with: athletics, senior swimming, beach education and the end of the year functions (to mention a little of what is going to happen). It is great to see the term starting out with such brilliant weather, hopefully we will have weather like this on our outing days.

Have a great term.

—Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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

What a busy couple of weeks the last two weeks have been, with a major focus being of the Arts. Last week we saw our Kapahaka group put on an excellent performance that had them acknowledged by the audience who replied to their Haka.

This week the focus has shifted to our musical, ‘The Amazing Race". A huge thank you to all of the pupils and teachers who have worked so very hard on it. A special thank you to Mr and Mrs Baines for the above and beyond work that they have put in.

The arts is often an overlooked part of our curriculum and yet it is so important. The major athletes of

ancient Greece are long forgotten but their artwork lives on. Few people remember the sportsmen of the Renaissance but the Artists live on.

A balanced society caters for all aspects of the human being, and we support and I applaud all of those who make lasting contributions to our society.

Singing, drama and dance will all be highlighted in our performance. I am sure that you will enjoy it.

Have a great holiday

—Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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

What a lovely Mass we all enjoyed on Sunday. It was the celebration of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, but it was also the celebration of the first Eucharist for a number of our pupils.

I would like to thank Father Michael and Mrs Dillon for all of their hard work. Also thank you to all of the children and their families who supported them during this important occasion.

Father spoke in his homily about how the cross once a symbol of cruelty and death, had now become a symbol of love and peace. A paradox we have in our world is the situation where people who profess to be followers of Christ, Christians, have as a part of their life an aspect that leads to the suffering of others.

The ninth commandment "Thou shalt nor bear false witness against thy neighbour", like all of the other ten is a corner stone of our legal and moral code.

Yet it is one that is broken with impunity. Libel, slander and defamation of character are all crimes that punish people who write or speak untruths about others. Yet gossip magazines thrive.

Remembering the symbol of the cross and its message of hope coming from pain, good coming from evil. We need to model for our children that it is best to only speak good of others.

Pope Francis’s quote that I have put down as a thought for the week best sums it up. Why cause pain when we don’t need to.

Remember the famous quote from Socrates "strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people".

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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

Here we are on a nice sunny morning well into week eight of the term already. The weather is very spring like and the first flush of spring growth is upon us.

The next two and a half weeks will be a busy time at St Mary’s.

Next week the Kapa Haka group will be performing at ‘Polyfest’ - this is always a highlight. Having watched the amount of effort that has gone into this performance I know that it will be a success.

In week ten we will be performing our annual musical. This also will be a real highlight. With the ultra busy schedule it is a challenge to balance the myriad of new ideas that is presented to us along side the

important traditional events. The benefit that they have to the over all education of our pupils is the key criteria that we measure all events against. While the basic core skills are important (obviously) the crit-era of values and attitudes that our pupils learn along the way are also very important.

I watched my daughter in a national hockey final over the past week. Her team were 0-2 down with 12 minutes to go. They had achieved their primary goal of qualifying for the top flight tournament for 2015. There was a feeling amongst some of the parents that they had already exceeded their expectations of the week. But the girls especially the nine who played the whole game, never gave in, they never argued or criticized each other, they stayed positive and supportive. They maintained their self belief. They played because they wanted to win not because they feared losing. In the remaining time they scored three unanswered goals and won. Sport or other experiences that teach: self belief, how to maintain

positive relationships, resilience, tenacity and focus, lead to young people achieving a happy and

successful life.

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan


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

As we countdown to the Parliamentary Elections the issues that people are commenting on or are

promoting become more confused. I think this is a reason why voting rates are so low, many people are simply unsure of who to vote for because everything is so confusing. Last night my wife and I went on a website where you answer a series of question about what policies you see as being important and then when you enter this information it shows the party that would best represent you. The results, to say the least are interesting.

This week on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons we will be holding our final round of school interviews for the year. Please ensure that you make a booking and attend an interview with your child's teacher. To ensure that we get the best results for your children we need to work as a team. To do this communication is vital. Interviews are the best way to do this as they are a two way process, where questions can be asked and answers given.

Car park safety, please read the notice about the schools car park and road safety attached further on. We want all of our pupils to arrive and leave safely from school, and with your help we can achieve this.

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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

Last week I was lucky enough to accompany the senior class on their annual camp. This year it was a winter camp with winter alpine activities a major focus.

As always it is a real privilege to watch the development of our pupils over the week attempting and
succeeding at challenges which at first overawed them.

It is the real nature of outdoor education that makes it so important in our pupils overall education. Too much of what young people do now days is done in a virtual or contrived sense. Reality shows are not real they are stage managed to appeal to popular myths and conceptions. There is nothing contrived in tramping or luging or sailing. In skiing if you don’t have the correct technique and skill then you fall and you hit the ground. If you are faced with getting from point A to point B without falling then you problem solve, you improvise, you use what skills and equipment you have to reach the desired outcome.

Technology is a tool albeit a powerful one, but a tool none the less. Tools require a person using them who: knows what he is trying to achieve, how to use the tool and which type of tool is best. Michelangelo didn’t use a screwdriver to carve David, he used the appropriate tools, he obviously had great skill and he knew what he was trying to achieve.

One of the key factors for success in life is resilience; that is getting up when you are knocked down.

People who succeed in any field know that they wont always win. Sometimes you lose or aren’t selected. Some people at this stage quit or move on but winners refocus and re evaluate. Set new goals and move forward. I have mentioned before about my daughter Grace and her success in hockey and she has achieved a lot for someone so young. But the thing I am most proud about are the two major times that things have not gone her way. The two times she wasn’t selected in teams. She put the obvious disappointment behind her said I’m in the development team and I’m going to do the best for that team. She did and proved her doubters wrong. But more importantly she showed resilience and proved to herself that she was able to overcome adversity.

Have a great week


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

As you read this hopefully I will be skiing on a beautiful sunny day down the slopes of the Remarkables ski area. Mrs Stevens will be the acting Principal in my absence.

The weather that we have been experiencing recently has been to say the least, variable. Going from mild temperate to frigid arctic.

But they say that variety is the spice of life and certainly in Education this is the case. At primary school we aim to keep the curriculum as broad as possible for as long as possible so that our pupils are given every opportunity to specialize at a later stage knowing that they do so having been exposed to a range of possibilities.

Subjects that foster creatively are the way of the future. We now have devices that can spell and punctuate for us, they can even correct our grammar or suggest different vocabulary but they can’t be creative. They are a tool like a hammer or a fork—a good tool, a smart tool but a tool non the less. People use tools to construct things. People are creative, so we encourage our pupils both at school and extra-murally to become involved in the creative arts. But also in outdoor activities that encourage problem solving in a real setting or situation e.g. should I ski down that slope? What may happen? What most likely will happen? No I’m not an experienced enough skier I’ll stick to the cat track!

Have a great week

—Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Next week I will be away for most of the week in Queenstown with the senior class on their ski camp.
Our winter camp is always a highlight of the year for our senior school.
The class get to experience adventures that they don’t usually have access to. They also get to test
themselves in challenging and meaningful situations that are very real. L.E.O.T.C/ (Learning Education Outside The Classroom) covers a huge range of topics and activities. Strictly speaking it is every activity that takes place outside a classroom setting. Camp is obviously focused on the more adventurous components of outdoor education but the children do a lot of learning that is less adventurous. One of my favourite activities is the Arrowtown Museum.
Aside from the direct teaching a large amount of non-directed learning takes place; looking after your
possessions, being at the right place at the right time, working together as a group and being prepared to help others.
Camps are a challenge, they require a huge amount of planning, thank you Mrs Baines—money and time but the benefits they feel make the effort worthwhile.
This was supported in our recent health questionnaire where overwhelmingly our parents support the idea of a camp.
Have a great fortnight
—Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Our newsletter this week is coming out a little earlier than normal as Mrs Evans is away tomorrow to
attend a course.
Yes, it’s that time again when everybody is glued to their T.V. watching sports that we would not normally
give up our time to view. Events like the Commonwealth and Olympic games promote their sports in a
positive way and soon after the event, sports like rowing experience a surge in participants as every
young boy wants to be the next Hamish Bond and girl the next Caroline Evers-Swindell.
Sports that encourage participation and skill development while gradually integrating a competitive focus
are the sports most likely to retain their playing numbers as competitors move from primary to secondary
Over the weekend I was talking to an ex-All Black who is still heavily involved in coaching and his opinion
was that sport played under 15 years should be for development and should encourage participation.
Something to think about.
The other big event that is coming up is the General Election. Like all parents one of the big focuses for
me is education. I have put a one page sheet up on the notice board that presents the education policy of
all of the political parties. Please read through it as the information on it outlines which political parties will
be best for your child’s education.
Have a great week
—Mike Brosnahan

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
In the famous western, “True Grit” - John Wayne answers when asked the question, how will he catch the criminals that they are tracking? “I know this country and I know these men.”
What he’s talking about in his laidback way is the concept of empathy. Knowing how other people feel and relating on a personal level to them. Far to often in this day and age the message we get is to only think of what is right for you, not your family or your team, or your school or community but for you!
The message that our current neoliberal leaders send out is that you only focus on what is right for you and as a result we see a growing range in financial situation between the wealthy and the not so wealthy in our society. But despite what political or economic situation we are in, we as Catholic Christians can make a difference by putting into practice the value of empathy. If you plan on doing something but you are unsure what the ramifications will be (sometimes even if you are sure) then ask the other people involved. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
We live in ever changing times, times when doing the correct thing is not always easy. What we are
focusing on during our whanau/values time at the moment is looking at the golden rule “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matt 7:12). Using this simple question we can move closer to becoming caring, empathetic Christians.
Have a great week and a restful holiday
—Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
The flu (influenza) season is well and truly upon us. Today (Monday) we have a number of staff and
pupils ill and not at school, and over the past couple of weeks this has been an ongoing occurrence.
There are certain steps that we can put in place to limit the spread of contagious viruses. The most
important is isolation, that is if your child is sick please ensure that they take time at home to get well and
that they don’t return to school until they are no longer contagious ie not sneezing or coughing.
Another important way to limit the spread of the virus is by washing your hands using the twenty/twenty
formulae (20 seconds with soap and hot water and 20 seconds drying).
The final three weeks of the term are going to be very busy as we have a number of important activities
and functions over this time. So please ensure that you read the diary section of our newsletter to make
sure that you are aware of what events are on and when they are on.
Finally please remember to be considerate with your parking practices before and after school as we still
have people parking in an unacceptable manner. Double parking is not safe so please don’t do it.
Have a great week

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Recently I have been reading a number of books on how best to prepare our children to be successful
citizens in this continually changing world. Key points that are recurring are: to take the holistic approach; remember that we are not entities that can focus exclusively on one aspect of our being. The skills and values that we learn at home need to be the same as those we learn at school or in our sports teams or in other social situations. Young people by definition will test the boundaries of what is or is not appropriate behaviour.
Loyalty is today a value that is often over looked. Loyalty by definition means to be faithful and true to allegiance. If you commit to someone or something (like a team) you stick to it.
Professional sport is a terrible role model in this respect. It teaches that you only focus on what is right, for you, you go to the highest bidder and the concept of the collective (team) is only a means to an end.
Team loyalty is something we attempt to develop in our youngsters, but what we do and say influences them more than what we tell them to do.
Youngsters will at times over commit themselves and as a result they will let others down. Parents need to monitor such things closely and ensure that if a commitment is made to a team, or group when time pressures occur the group that received the loyalty first (usually a club or school team) isn't blithely pushed aside in the search for greater glory. This may be only a small thing in junior sport but it teaches an attitude that youngsters will carry with them through life.
Have a great week

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
One of the questions that we must ask ourselves as parents and as educators on an ongoing basis is what will the world our children will live in look like. Be it ten, twenty or even thirty years down the track, what is the norm in: 2024, 2034 or 2044 will not be the same as it is today.
My wife’s Grandfather lived until he was 102 years old, he was born in 1896 and died in 1998. He was born in Dunedin where lamplighters light the street lights, transport was by horse and buggy and ablution disposal required the night soil man.
He fought in World War One (it took him nearly four months to get to Europe) and he lived to see: supersonic air flight, man on the moon, atomic warfare, cellular phones, automatic motorcars, penicillin, computers and microwave ovens (amongst other things).
When he was a primary school aged child, if he had told his parents or his teachers what he would
witness in his life he would have been thought at best an aimless dreamer and most likely someone out of step with reality.
We have to remember that progress is accelerating to prepare our children for the future, we must focus on the skills, the values and attitudes that will enable them to be confident, successful and motivated global citizens of their
As we move into this election year I urge you as parents to listen closely to what the political leaders are promising.
Eliminate the rhetoric and note down what they are saying about their vision of the future. Are they looking to the future or the past with their policies? Are they presenting a picture of a future (both short and long term) that you want for your children?
Knowledge (Education) is power (Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est) wrote Sir Francis Bacon about four hundred years ago.
This truth must be pertinent and relevant.
So what world will your child inherit? How can you best prepare them for it? Which of our leaders are going to
guide us in that direction?
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Well winter has struck, the change in conditions from Saturday morning and early afternoon, to late after-noon was amazing.
As I write this I am at home as the conditions of many of the roads in the hill suburbs are still marginal for safe travel.
When you live in the temperate climate zones winter weather is a factor that you expect.
Ensuring that all of the events that we timetable are completed becomes a balancing act. Ground transfers, postponements, cancellations, late starts and school closures are all realities of life and to ensure that we achieve the best outcomes we always rely on the whole school community working as a team.
We are lucky to have so many people who are prepared to put up their hands to help and it is due to this good will that St Mary’s pupils have such a range of options open to them.
The winter terms have a large number of events: The Taieri Schools Music Festival, The Year Seven and Eight camp, The Year Seven and Eight interchange with St Joseph’s (Oamaru), the South Taieri Schools Cross Country, The Haddon Shield Public Speaking competition, The school Musical and numerous inter and intra school sporting events. With all of these activities on top of the already very busy everyday life of our school, inclement weather can be an annoyance but when we look at the big picture in the end our
pupils get an amazing range of opportunities, thanks to you!
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
During the holidays my family spent a little time in Nelson. It seemed a good idea to drive up, spend a
couple of days and then drive back, but nine hour car trips, even when it is through country that you haven’t visited before can be tiring.
During our time there we managed to see a lot of the sights—one highlight for ‘some’ of our family being a visit to the Lord Rutherford of Nelson memorial. Two points about Rutherford that I didn’t know before hand stuck with me; one was his total pride in being a New Zealander. Given that he was a man who spent by far the greater part of his life outside the country and was resident in either Canada or England when he achieved his greatest feats, he always remembered where he came from.
But he was a man who given the conditions of the world in which he lived, rose far above what were the logical expectations that people had of him.
Often we as kiwis focus our adulation on what people are achieving today, such as the young singer
“Lorde”. What she has done are feats that she should be justifiably proud of. But what Rutherford did will be remembered forever. Remember he died nearly eighty years ago but he is on our highest denominated note, he has an element (Rutherfordium) and a crater on the moon, named for him. But I think we should remember Ernest Lord Rutherford of Nelson not for what he did but rather for the attributes he showed that enabled him to complete those feats—courage, perseverance, tenacity and self belief.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Over the holidays I read a book entitled ‘Outliers’ by a man named Malcolm Gladwell. The book looks at
people who succeed in life and the reasons for their success. The main conclusions that he comes to,
and he supports these points with very well reasoned arguments are:
That there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ all success comes from effort. I think myself back to an occasion
while attending a course at the university watching a first year student during lunch time, endlessly doing
chip and chases with a rugby ball by himself, up and down Logan Park. This wasn’t a one off thing, it
happened on a daily bases, so I was told. The only thing that changed were the skills that he practiced.
This young man left university soon after to focus on his sporting career. His name I found out later was
Jeff Wilson. Often over the years as I watched the ‘golden one’ win games for Otago, the Highlanders
and the All Blacks I would hear people say—that guy is a natural. But what Jeff Wilson has was a great
work ethic from a young age.
How does this apply to education? The same way as it applies to life. Anyone who says my formal
practice or my game is over, I have nothing to do until next practice/game will not achieve great things.
Anyone who you talk to who appears to be naturally talented will have developed the requisite skills
through hard work.
Schooling is just the same. The approximately 10-15% of pupils who gain NCEA with excellence work
hard, full stop! A balanced life is of course important and know how far you want to go in life is a very
personal decision. Each year about 700 people enroll in pre-law at Otago University and only 200 make
it. Those 200 will have worked the hardest.
We support our children’s education not by driving them incessantly on but by ensuring we support them
and acknowledge that the learning they do at school is only a part of the learning that they undertake on a
daily basis.
Have a great term
Mike Brosnahan
Easter Liturgy

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
This morning I was talking to my electrician, a man who originally hales from Aberdeen in the North of  Scotland. We began to discuss the possibility of Scottish independence and he expressed the view that the same model could develop as in the Irish province of Ulster. The Catholics want to be independent, the Protestants want to remain a part of the United Kingdom. We discussed sectarian matters for a few minutes and then he expressed the thought that he was lucky to be from Aberdeen, a city with two universities but only one football team. The reason he gave was simply that the Universities welcomed everyone but when a Scottish town (e.g. Glasgow) had two football teams they tended to be exclusive. Only certain members of society were welcome!
As we move into holy week and our final preparations for Easter, it is a good time to focus on that key Christian value of inclusivity. Jesus right throughout his mission welcomed everyone to join with him. The poor, the ill, the unwanted.
Perhaps the idea of being inclusive is best shown in our Mercy value of ‘care for the poor and vulnerable’ and the story of the good Samaritan. Remember that a Samaritan was not just an unknown member of the public, he was a member of a group of people that the Jews did not get along with. Yet it was a member of this group of people who stopped to help the injured man.
It is easy to be nice and helpful to those who you see as friends or even those who you can relate to but to be a true follower of Christ you must be welcoming to those who you don’t get along with.
Have a happy and holy Easter break.
Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
It is hard to believe that we are already in week ten of the term. As we come to the end of the season of  Lent it is perhaps a good time to focus on what we have and how lucky our lot is, especially when com-pared to those who live in other less hospitable parts of the world.
I am reading a book at the moment written by the British survival expert Bear Grylls. It is entitled ‘True Grit” and it looks at a number of amazing survival stories.
The underlying theme is that the strongest factor we have that helps people to survive from hazardous
situations is their determination and will to live. But the other key theme is that to survive we really need so little, yet we continually put pressure on ourselves by wanting newer and bigger and better consumer items.
Lent is a time for us to consider what is really important. What do we really need to not just survive but to be content. The old prayer the Desiderata says “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
To be content, we need to know ourselves well and to know what we value and what we want to achieve.
We have to be guarded about people telling us what we want or need e.g. you simply must have a new car, a bigger T.V. and trip to London. While all of these things are nice, don’t let need be confused with want. In Genesis the serpent tempts Adam and Eve by offering not what they need but by telling them what they want. Our needs to survive are simple: food, water, clothing, shelter and warmth. Our wants are too numerous to list. The people in the Solomon Islands as they struggle to survive want very little but their needs are the same as ours.
So as we come to the end of Lent please remember the three pillars of lent: Prayer, alms giving and
fasting, and keep the people who are struggling to simply survive, in your hearts.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
In Ecclesiastes (Chapter 3:1-9) we read “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven”. This is an important learning for us to remember when we think of our aspirations for our children.
It’s highly seductive as a parent to think that your child is seen as really talented and able to play at a
higher level at a younger age, or be the youngest in their class—but still be able to work at the same level or even higher than those of an older age. But research, anecdotal evidence and my own experiences urge caution when presented with the concept of promoting children either in sport or academia.
In physical sports, such as rugby, size is obviously important but so is maturity. When I was in the old Third form at St Kevin’s I was a member of an invincible under 48kg rugby team. The stars of our team were two Seventh formers (Year 13) boys who were the same weight as everybody else but were much stronger and more mature. Size even in a physical game like rugby, is not the only way to measure what is a fair match or an appropriate team for a player to be in.
In more skill focus sports such as cricket or hockey while the physical component is not so paramount it is still a key factor. I have seen young cricketers promoted early by their parents intimidated by bowling too fast and hostile for their skill set, put off the game, mainly due to their inability to succeed. Everybody be it child or adults need to experience success.
Continual failure tells us simply that we are in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. The same rules
apply to placement for academic purposes. NCEA is form adjudicated—that is you sit Level One in Year Eleven and Level Two in Year Twelve etc. Age is not a factor. Promoting a child means that they are sitting exams with less time to prepare than others. The social component also needs to be examined, do you want your child to be oldest or the youngest in their peer group as they become young adults?
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Last week on Thursday night I watched a film on Maori T.V. about the clashes that the great American basketball player Reggie Miller had with the New York Knicks team.
The focus on the film was the various levels of adversity that Reggie has to overcome to become a
superstar. His biggest hurdle was his sister Cheryl who for most of his life could “outshoot, out dribble and out fight him” (she is still looked upon as the greatest woman player ever). When he played, whole arenas of 35000 people would chant Cheryl at him to put him off.
But through overcoming these adversities he developed a level of resilience that enabled him to be a
champion in anyway that you define a champion. He always wanted to take the ’clutch shot’ and he only played for one professional team (the Indiana Pacers) leading them to be one of the very best.
He was a glass half full person, he looked at a situation and could see the positive possibilities. He would approach the foul line (and he shot 90% in his career) thinking I can get 2 points for my team here while other players approached thinking “please don’t let me miss”.
Our responsibility as parents and teachers is to encourage our kids to be half full people—approach the game wanting to score, when you go out to bat want to face the bowler. If a challenge is presented to you then seize the moment “Carpe Diem”!
We want our learners to be risk takers, people who challenge themselves. How we do that is by
highlighting the good– accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. My son is a cricketer, a good, not great batsman. He averages about 20 in men’s premier reserve cricket. He scores steadily but slowly, he accumulates. He faces the opening bowlers and like a matador takes them on. Mostly he wins but sometimes he is out. He got to where he is by being supported in his self belief, by ignoring the critics who want to slog a quick 12 and get out, but mostly by concentrating on what he does well and eliminating negative thoughts.
As Walt Whitman said “keep your face always towards the sunshine—shadows will fall behind you”.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan
Room 7

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
This week is Dyslexia awareness week. Dyslexia is an often misunderstood topic. Some famous people
who were/are dyslexic are Leonard da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Richard Branson and
F Scott Fitzgerald to name a few.
We live in a world where people who see things differently are not always valued as well as they should
be. The world we live in has been shaped not by the people who micro-manage the small things but by
those who see the ‘big picture’, those who are able to look outside the box to see solutions.
Often we become stuck in a mind set of only seeing a certain way to achieve a goal. Those who have the
gift of dyslexia have and continue to achieve some amazing feats. The number of entrepreneurs who
have the gift of dyslexia is as you would imagine large. Some of the most noteworthy of these (excluding
the afore mentioned Richard Branson) are: Henry Ford, William Hewlett (Hewlett -Packard), Ted Turner,
Frank M Woolworth and Ingvar Kamprad (Ikea). All of these are people who see problems in a new and
innovative way, many struggled early on at school, all are very resilient people.
This week as it is Dyslexia awareness week try to find out about the strengths that people with the gift of
Dyslexia have. Visit the website I leave you with words of that most
famous poet who has the gift of Dyslexia William Butler Yeats “I would be ignorant as the dawn that mere-ly stood, rocking the glittering coach. Above the cloudy shoulders of the horses; I would be for no
knowledge is worth a straw. Ignorant and wanton as the dawn”. William Butler Yeats (1865 -1939) Irish
Poet, playwright “the Dawn”.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
What a great week last week was, Walk and Wheel week. Firstly let me start by thanking Mrs Matheson
for all of her hard work in planning and organizing the events.
Obviously the highlights were the Walk and Wheel to school together as a group along side the Mayor
and the Duathlon. Both of which were well supported by our parents.
I remember an old saying that my father (and his peers) liked to quote “do as I say not as I do”. It sounds
all very good when you say this to children but the reality is that it just doesn’t work, people respect you
for what you do not what you say. The reality is that as parents we are all role models for our children,
what they see us do they will do. I find myself still modelling some of my thinking on my fathers actions
even after all these years.
If children see us as active people then they will be active, if they see us read and write, then they will
read and write. We are all role models.
When our children are younger our actions have more impact because they don’t question as much and
their parents are the centre of their universe. Lets face it, teenagers are going to be more questioning,
but even they watch closely what the significant adults in their lives do and how they behave. Being a
role model is a big responsibility. However like all actions that we take with great effort they also bring
great rewards.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
As I look out the window this morning I am greeted by the type of dark steely grey sky that signals our
summer has ended and we are well into autumn. One of the interesting points to note about education is
that most if not all of the great universities in the world are located in the cooler temperate climates;
Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, The Sorbonne and of course Otago. Many theories have been
circulated as to why this occurs and one logical explanation is that the cooler climate encourages people
during the cooler seasons to stay inside and study. It must be hard to stay inside reading “War and
Peace” when you live in Hawaii.
Study is often a personal thing, people approach it in different ways to achieve different goals. I am the
kind of person who is able to study very intensively for short periods (cram), while other people like to
allow a longer period for their learning.
The new structure of NCEA of a mixture of internal and external assessment based over a year seems to
be a much fairer system then the old School Certificate model of a half pass and a half fail, all in one
One of our schools key phrases on our vision is the term ‘life long learners’.
Everybody is a life long learner—there is always something new that we desire to or simply need to learn.
A famous quote states “the more that I know then the more I want to know”.
This is a very true statement when you consider, that once you learn something new you will have
questions that occur to you. The broader your knowledge the more questions. The challenge for our
young people is to keep the base of their learning as broad as possible.
The broader the base of learning then the higher the possible apex because the student is more likely to
find a subject that truly interests them and we always study harder if we are interested.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
In this newsletter I want to concentrate on highlighting the modes of communication that we have at St Mary’s. Our
first and foremost way of communication is our weekly newsletter. This usually contains three or more pages of
information including the upcoming events scheduled for our school and a brief look back at previous weeks events.
It includes in depth information about the up coming events to ensure that all families are well informed about all that
is going on. Also if deemed appropriate it includes information on community events. We send the newsletter out
electronically to all parents nominated email addresses. If you have trouble receiving these emails then please
contact Mrs Evans,
The weekly newsletter can also be viewed on our school website under the
information tab.
The website also contains a lot of other interesting information and an up to date calendar of events and activities.
Some events that predominately have a class focus will be communicated by way of a letter from the class teacher.
We also have as part of our formal reporting process a parent information evening in term one, interviews in terms
two and three and written reports on your child’s progress in terms two and four.
We also have a regular programme of consultation and parent information evenings designed to ensure that we use
up to date information to strengthen our strategic planning and to ensure we offer parents the opportunity to keep up
with any new developments in teaching and learning.
Last year the Board of trustees invested in a new phone system. This system is an up to date version of the system
employed in most New Zealand schools. It always begins with an electronic message so please listen to the
prompts and this system will lead to a more efficient use of our phone system.
Our school email system is developed to ensure easy communication between the school and the parent community
so please if you have a question email it in and we will get back to you as soon as possible with an answer.
Finally there is the obvious way of communicating by way of a face to face interview. If it is a simple quick question
then teachers are happy to answer these before 9am and after 3pm. If the question requires some depth in its an-swer then please make an appointment to meet the teacher and let them know the broad basis of your question to
allow them to prepare for the meeting. So in summary the forms of communication between home and school are
as follows:
  School Newsletter (weekly—Tuesday)
  Board of Trustees Newsletter (once a term)
  School Website
  School Email
  School phone
  Formal reporting (ie interviews, meet the teacher, written reports)
  Information meetings between teachers and parents
  Additional information notices and letters sent out by the teachers or the school about specific events
We have sent this newsletter out to all parents in hard copy as well as electronically to ensure that it is received by
all families. If you need us to update any information please contact at the school office.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
At the moment one of the greatest ever feats of New Zealand sporting history is unfolding,
Brendan McCullum is currently waiting (I hope) to come out and bat with an overnight score of 281. No
New Zealander has ever made 300 in a test, the closest is the great Martin Crowe who was run out on
299. The scoring of the 300 would be a monumental achievement on its own but the context in which it
has been scored is what makes the achievement immense: It has been made against one of the world
best test match teams and a country with more than a billion staunch fans (India), New Zealand was
bowled out for 192 in 323 balls in the first innings. When Brendan came in to bat New Zealand were 3
wickets downs for 52 and before he found a solid partner in BJ Watting New Zealand were 5-94. Most
people thought the test would only last three days, New Zealand had blown a great chance to score a se-ries win. But as they say ’cometh the hour cometh the man’.
To score 100 runs is a feat all cricketers aspire to, it requires skill, determination, patience,
resilience and self belief. To do it under the pressure that ’B Mac’ did is amazing, to then (hopefully)
score two more centuries defies belief.
I think that whether you are a cricket follower or not in this instant is irrelevant, few of us are mountain
climbers but we all admired Sir Edmond Hillary’s feats. The important thing to
remember about this great sporting action is that it was done by a man who tool the mantel of leadership
seriously and battled hard, not for personal glory, but for his team mates and country.
As Kipling wrote
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, …. If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds
worth of distance run—yours is the earth and everything that’s in it, and what is more—you’ll be a man my
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Over the next month or so a major focus for the students at St Mary’s is the ‘Keeping Ourselves
Safe’ programme. This programme has been taught at St Mary’s over a number of years. It is a
programme that is taught in conjunction with the New Zealand Police and focuses on way that
young people can keep themselves safe and as they get older, others safe.
It is a programme that is practical but also addresses the theory and reasoning behind why we
should or should not behave in certain ways.
In fact the key behaviour that helps us support our young ones to keep themselves safe is
Talk to your children often, even when what they are saying doesn’t really interest you, and listen
to what they say. If they know that you are listening to them, then they will go to you for
guidance, and more importantly you will be more aware of what's going on in their world.
With the advent of social media: Facebook, ask, snap chat, twitter etc., people who may be distant
are able to communicate as simply as they can with someone sitting in the same room.
Obviously this has massive benefits, you can Skype your sister in Melbourne and it’s almost like
a face to face meeting. But as with all technologies it has a dark side, unwanted intrusions into
you or your families life being the paramount concern. Sometimes it would be nice to retreat into
our log cabin and bolt the door. But the reality is that in our technological world, this is not
possible. To keep ourselves and our children safe, communication is again the answer.
Encourage them to come to you if they are ever in a situation that makes them feel
uncomfortable or confused.
Have a great week
Mike Brosnahan
Our RE focus in each class h

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Welcome back to the 2014 school year. I hope that everyone has enjoyed a restful holiday and
has come back rejuvenated for another busy school year.
Over the next few weeks a number of programmes will begin and outings and celebrations are
scheduled. Please remember to check the calendar of events to ensure that you are aware of all
these happenings.
Last year we consulted on the topic of homework—this is a subject that always delivers a wide
range of opinions. For every academic study that insists that regular homework leads to contin-ued academic success, you can find one that insists that homework doesn’t achieve the antici-pated academic results.
At St Mary’s we believe that some amount of homework is necessary to: reinforce the learning
done at school, to prepare for future learning and to act as a link between home and reinforcing
the concept of being life long learners. But we also believe that homework is counter productive
if it causes unnecessary stress. There of course comes a time when the pupils needs to accept
100% responsibility for their learning (usually in senior secondary school). Mainly due to the fact
that the topic material becomes to specialized. My son (Year 13) was doing quadratic equations
last night and he was able to complete a number of them before I could have done one!
But we feel the most important aspect of homework is not the content but the attitude developed
in continuing school learning at home.
One important study from the United States shows that the work done at non-school times, eve-nings, weekends and holidays is what leads to academic success. It is not about volume of work
it’s about being positive and continuous and modelling that learning (reading, writing, maths etc)
is valuable.
We recognise of course, that there will be times when homework can’t be done, a note or email
is helpful as it removes any chance of confusion.
As part of our ongoing parent information programme we will be holding an information night
later in the term to outline more fully our expectations with regards homework at the various
levels in our school and also to offer some ideas on how to make homework fun.
As well as welcoming all of our returning pupils back we would like to offer a special welcome to
the following pupils: Olivia Clydesdale to Room 1, Kate Jordan to Room 5, and Emma Jordan to
Room 6.
Have a great year
Mike Brosnahan