Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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

Well as this is the penultimate newsletter for the year, it is a good time to focus on the amazingly

supportive environment that we share at our school.

Last night I had the privilege to attend the monthly P.T.A. meeting, the B.O.T. meeting and then a

combined Christmas function. It was a very pleasant evening and an excellent way to bring two groups who do so much to support our school together.

While the roles of the two groups are quite different, both groups perform their jobs to the highest

possible standard. To produce the excellent efforts that both groups produce doesn’t happen just by chance, it happens by very astute and motivated people working very hard.

Our recent excellent National Standards results are due to the close link between home and school and the huge level of support that the school receives from our parents but especially from the PTA and BOT.

Our National Standards results for 2015 show, that 81.8% of our pupils are achieving at or above the

national standard for writing while that national average is 71.1% so we are achieving 10.7% better that the national average in writing. 89.2% of our pupils are achieving at or above the national standard in

reading, that is 11.2% higher than the national average and 82.6% of our pupils are achieving at or above the standard in mathematics and that is a 7.4% higher than the national average.

While these results are excellent, I feel the key point is that our percentage of pupils achieving at or above the national standard in all areas shows continued improvement.

The next week promises to be very busy with functions on almost everyday. So please as I have said,

remember the true meaning of Christmas and take any chance that you can to relax and have some down time.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan

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

What an ever changing world we live in! I was talking to my Year Eight R.E. class recently about my wife's Grandfather. He was a World War One veteran who lived until he was over a hundred years old.

When he was born Dunedin had little street lights, a "night soil" man was still common, no cars, no planes, no telephones and obviously things such as T.V., computers, space travel, and the internet were only true in science fiction novels.

When he died he had seen a man walk on the moon, flown many times, held a drivers licence until into his nineties, loved to watch T.V. and understood all about computers.

A century is a long time. In his life time Charles saw changes that as a young man he could never have conceived.

If we looked at the massive changes in technology Charles saw in his lifetime, what changes will we see in ours? What changes will our children see?

While waiting for the birth of our son (in 1998) we purchased an early model cell phone. You could only make calls on it, no texts nothing else just use it as a portable telephone. The battery was far larger than the total size of most modern phones. Look at your cell phone, what functions can it perform?

These changes have happened in less than 20 years!

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

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

As we approach the season of Advent it is a very good time to reflect on what Advent is and what it means to us. Advent is a time of preparing or getting ready. It begins on the Sunday closest to St Andrew’s Day (the fourth Sunday before Christmas). The beginning of advent would once, I suspect, have tied in with the time when we generally begun to prepare for Christmas; decorations would have gone up in shops, Christmas music would have begun to be played on the radio, advertisements would have begun to appear on television, people would have begun to plan the day, thought about what presents that they were going to buy and then select a tree.

Sadly today most of those activities began long ago, and our preparation for Christmas has become a

competitive race. "I’ve bought all my presents", "I’ve just finished putting the lights up". Sadly

commercialism has slowly but surely eroded the real meaning of Christmas.

The Churches focus at Advent is on preparing for the second coming but remembering the first coming of Christ at Christmas.

While we prepare for Christmas this year let us remember the values that Christ taught us especially the value of compassion. We become compassionate people by being able to put ourselves on someone else's situation, to walk in their shoes as it were. This is a skill that we can learn and that we can teach. When we see a refugee on television think "how hard it must be to have to live their life": Jesus’ greatest gift was that he taught us to think about others—not only about ourselves.

So as we prepare for Christmas in this season of advent, talk to your children about how Christmas can be the beginning of a better time for all, leading to true happiness.

Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan

Year 6—Camp last

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

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

Well here we are in Week Six of 2015, where has the year gone?

Today is a day of celebration as with (A.J. Kilpatrick) starting at school we have reached our highest

maximum roll since 2010. It is great to see all of the happy young faces of a morning!

Over the next month school will be a very busy place with: the Year Six camp, Otago Championship

athletic sports, our end of the year Production and our end of the year Graduation Mass.

The end of the year is often a stressful time for all, everybody thinks that they should be doing everything. I think that it is an important time as we move into the period of advent to focus on what is important and to ensure a positive end to the year by: acknowledging how fortunate we are to live in such a peaceful and safe place, to be thankful of the opportunities that we and our children have access to and by focusing on the important aspects of the Christmas message—especially that of hope.

Think about this, Christmas is poised at the end of one year and the beginning of the next—at a crossroads of the past and the future. A previous year with all of it’s blessings and trials is gone. A New Year looms ahead full of uncertainty. Yet, here it is approaching fast, Christmas! The celebration of a birth that took place 2000 years ago. A birth is always a time of hope - what will this new life bring to the world?

Christmas is a perennial bright spot on the calendar because God has given us hope.

So have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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

What a great day Sunday was. Yes it rained but it didn’t matter. It was an excellent example of what a brilliant supportive and motivated community we have. A huge thank you to Jacqui Hyde and her team on the PTA, the amount of effort that they put in was very hard to believe and the success of the day was mostly down to the planning and thought that they put in.

Thank you also to all of the people who helped on the day and to those who supported us simply by being there. To see all of the young and the not so young enjoying a family focused day filled me with a huge sense of pride, so to all of you well done. I didn’t even mind getting wet, although I hate cold water, to see the smile on the faces of the children at my dumping.

The rest of the term is also going to be very busy with the year six camp coming up and of course the end of year concert.

A final congratulations to Pyper Johnson on winning the Dillon cup for the third year in a row! Nobody else has won it twice so great effort—well done Pyper.

Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


Monday, November 2, 2015

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

As I mentioned in last weeks newsletter, last week I was lucky enough to attend the senior camp at Pukerau.

As always this is a real highlight as we see our senior pupils attempt and achieve a huge range of personal challenges. Seeing someone look up the climbing wall or down the abseiling face and show doubt but then climb to the top or abseil to the bottom is a common occurrence. Then once they have achieved this goal you see that person walking 30cm taller, full of confidence and self belief.

Our school vision states that we want our students to be "confident, reflective, risk taking, life long

learners in a Catholic School."

Camp is an excellent way of ensuring that the first three goals are under lined and because of the success that the students achieve this understanding of setting a challenge and achieving will be life-long.

Camp could not happen without a huge amount of support from the parents who go on camp with us; so a huge thank you to John Hyde, Paul Anderton, Charlie Harrex, Bridget Dougherty, and Luanna Clough. And of course a huge thank you to Mrs Judy Baines for the huge amount of planning, effort and the time she puts in to make the camp such a huge success.

Our next two big events are the South Taieri Schools Athletics sports tomorrow, and the school fair on Sunday. We are praying for good weather on both days and I look forward to seeing you at these events.

Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


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

A question that comes up a lot in schools and indeed when dealing with young people is what is success? What denotes success? Is it having a high educational qualification? Is it having a lot of money? Is it be-ing in a top sports team? Is it having a lot of good friends? A happy family? Is it good health?

The answer I suppose is all of these or none of these. Working hard to achieve a high qualification is fine but not if it causes you a huge amount of stress. All of these accomplishments that I have mentioned are very worthy but only if the achieving of them causes you real happiness.

There is a saying "be careful about what you wish for as you might get it". The inference being that it won’t necessarily cause you happiness or contentment.

My son is at present in the midst of university exams and he is trying to gain access into a school that has a firm and academically rigid criteria of admittance. To say that it has caused him angst would be a huge understatement. Last week when we were talking and he was explaining his fears I said to him "is being a Lawyer what you really want?" Yes. "Have you worked hard" Yes. "Could you have realistically done any more to pass?" No! Well I said now do the best that you can in your exam and if you don’t make it into Law school you will make a really good accountant or economist or what ever.

The point is that if you really work to your maximum to achieve something and you don’t quite make it, it’s a time to reflect and say "was it really meant to be?"

As Denis Waitley said "happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude".

Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,
Yesterday was day one of term three for me and what a great day it was! It was so nice to see all of the happy, smiley faces of the children and to catch up with so many of the parents.

I would like to thank Lindsay Stevens for the exceptional job that she did of leading the school in my stead. And also to thank Judy Baines who has done a great job as the Acting DP and Senco.

Schools are busy places that always seem to have a lot going on and it has been great to be able to keep up with all of the activities through the school blog and newsletters.

Next term also promises to be a very busy one with the senior camp, then the school production, the school fair and the usual end of year activities as major productions.

When you have had a time for reflection as I have, you are able to focus on things that are really important. As a parent and teacher the most important value that we can teach our child is

honesty. Honesty in what we say and in what we do. If we model honesty to our children they in term will behave in an honest and honourable way.
Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


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

Welcome back to everyone for term four, and what a busy term this will be as we move through advent and into the Christmas season.

Major events coming up are: the school fair, the Room 7 camp, the Year Six camp, the South Taieri Schools Athletics, senior swimming lessons, and our end of year performance and of course our end of year Mass and prize giving.

Obviously on top of this we have a full term of teaching and learning.

As a parent of busy children myself I know that what goes on at school is only a portion of what happens in life and saying no to doing or taking part in something is not always easy in fact its usually very hard.

But it is a good thing where possible to prioritize. Choose what you have to do and what you want to do and what you can do without.

As much as Christmas is often called the season of "good will to all", over the past few years I have noticed that the pressure that comes on at this time of the year makes it loose its true meaning. So I hope that everyone has a pleasant and enjoyable Term Four.

Have a great week.

Mike Brosnahan


Tuesday, September 15, 2015


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

On Friday I had the opportunity to show a Principal from Invercargill around St Mary’s. The school he is from is getting an upgrade in the near future and he wanted to find out what worked well in our school. I was very proud to be able to show him around and for him to see our wonderful facilities and the children working hard in each of the classrooms. He was very impressed with all that he saw.
When you have the chance to see things through someone else’s eyes it can help you appreciate what you have. 

Pauline and I made some suggestions, which he could see the value in, although they would not necessarily work in his community as every school is different. To me that is what a school is – a place that is relevant to the community they are in and a place that is always striving to improve.

One of the key aspects of the wellbeing survey we sent out last week was to give parents and whānau an opportunity to give us feedback so that we can continue to move forward.

The children also completed a survey and we received some good feedback on their feelings about their school, what they see as important and how we can continue to improve.

Thank you to those who took the time to fill in the survey, we really value your input and the BOT will look to see how we can use your comments and suggestions to make our school even better.

Have a great week.
Lindsay Stevens

(Acting Principal)


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

The 1st of September has been and gone and that tells us that Spring has arrived. The weather doesn’t really reflect that but the daffodils in the garden, lambs in the paddock and the magnolia trees beginning to flower all say that Spring has arrived.

When my children were younger, I used to love the wee break between Winter sports and the start of Summer sports that happened at this time of year. It was a time of catching up, and an opportunity to reconnect with family and whānau.

We have had a busy time at school over the last couple of weeks with trips to the Art Gallery, Toitu Museum, a performance by Craig Smith (he sings the Wonky Donkey song), class Masses, talks from two authors- one at school and one at the Mosgiel Library and the Otago Cross country.

With all the sporting and cultural opportunities available at school the children certainly get a chance to experience a wide variety of activities and experiences.

In saying that – one of the most important things for children to experience is family time. Family time is so precious, playing games, talking, sharing, visiting whānau.– those are the times children remember most.  I encourage you to make the most of the free times you have, as life only seems to get busier as the children get older.

Have a great week.
Lindsay Stevens

(Acting Principal)


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

This week I have been very lucky to observe and be involved in various aspects of teamwork.
The Stars on Stage performance on Thursday night epitomised teamwork. The children appeared nervous back stage before their item but once on stage they worked as a team to give a great performance. Thank you to Lisa Matheson and Judy Baines for all the work they did enabling the children to perform as a cohesive team.
I also saw great teamwork at netball on Saturday. The children worked really well together, encouraging and supporting each other and both teams came away with well deserved wins.
The teachers and support staff work hard as a team to provide opportunities for the children so their learning is interesting and motivating.
There are also a lot of other teams working behind the scenes. The PTA continually work as a team- they break off into sub committees and work together on a variety of projects for the benefit of our children and school.
The BOT are another example of people working together to make sure the school is functioning as well as it can. Today I saw a father and son team working together cleaning up and maintaining our school. I often see a whole family working in the garden and tidying it up.
A big thank you to all of the teams who continually work to make our school the best it can be.

Have a good week.
Lindsay Stevens
(Acting Principal)

Monday, August 31, 2015


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

One of our five core Mercy values is compassion.
So what does it actually mean? Here are some definitions.
a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by
misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

 literally means “to suffer together.” It is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

Sadness for and a desire to help someone

I see some children show a high level of compassion even as young as five, but I also see others not aware of how to help those around them.
Sometimes it is easy to feel sadness or sorrow for someone who is suffering but to be compassionate is to do something to help that person.
One of the hardest things to do as a child or adult is to support those who need help in a situation where you have to confront someone else. To do that, one puts themselves at risk but that is the true meaning of being compassionate.
Please talk to your children about how to go about helping others, it might be as simple as telling someone else the problem, telling someone to stop, or helping someone walk away from a situation.

Have a good week.
Lindsay Stevens

(Acting Principal)