A blessing in disguise
A warm welcome to you all as we begin the 2018 school year – the Year of Justice. I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to all new families who have joined the Loreto Normanhurst community this year. I trust your daughter has settled well into her new school and I am confident that she will bring to Loreto a great sense of excitement and enthusiasm for learning and for life.
There are two sweet ‘hums’ which I savour in the first week of the school year – one which fills the quads on the girls’ first day, and the other which gently settles over the whole campus after the Primary School assembly on day two. The first ‘hum’ is always an outburst of love and cheer as the girls reunite after a long summer break. The second is a little subtler and is marked by the comfort of knowing that the community is together again and that we are all back in the swing of things.
This year, of course, we had an unusual start to the school year by having to make the decision to delay the start of the Term by one day due to the anticipated train strike. I would firstly like to thank all parents for your support of this decision and trust in the school. I do acknowledge the inconvenience and disruption this may have caused families. It was not an easy decision to make – to untangle months of planning involved in the first few days of a new school year, particularly with boarders on site, and to keep the possible impact of this on families, students and staff at the forefront of our minds.
Now that we are a few days removed from having to make the decision, I have reflected on the broader learning of the need to be nimble and flexible when juggling multiple demands and handling change that unpredictably presents itself. Sometimes this can be difficult in a structured environment and in an organisation like a school where order and predictability of routine are crucial to the good running of the school. The reality of living in a volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous world does, however, require us to harness our skills of adaptability and flexibility and to ensure we are developing these competencies in our children and young people. How we frame a positive outlook to ourselves and to others becomes just as equally important.
As it turns out, we did enjoy benefits which flowed from the decision. Returning to boarding on Sunday afternoon, our boarders had a sleep in on Monday, enjoyed brunch together and then engaged in a program of activities which allowed them to build community and spend time with teachers in a different context. This also gave our teaching staff great insight in to the life of a boarder at Loreto Normanhurst. For our 47 new boarders, this was of particular benefit as they firmed relationships formed at Orientation last year, met new students and staff, and familiarised themselves with the school and the routines of boarding.
After two full and engaging professional learning days for staff, the delayed start allowed staff to continue their preparations and planning for the term at a slower pace than usual. I can attest to the conversations and dialogues of that day being centred on what is best for the students, their holistic learning and their growth, as staff collaborated in their planning for the term and year ahead. Teachers also mentioned to me that phoning families of Day girls in their Tutor Group or Primary Class to ensure they had received the message allowed them to establish introductions or reconnect with parents and briefly speak about their daughters, the summer break and the year ahead.
It’s for these reasons and others that in a recent conversation about the delayed start, a colleague referred to this Monday as having been a “blessing in disguise.” While a phrase often used, this time when I heard it I reflected on it a little more than usual, as it most definitely did not feel like a blessing when we realised we had to make the decision. I wonder how many other blessings in disguise enter our busy days without us taking the time to ponder and give thanks for them? Here at Loreto we are fortunate to be nourished by our Ignatian spirituality which is founded on reflection and teaches us to make sense of our daily lives by pausing to thoughtfully and prayerfully reflect and discern God’s place in the course of our days and lives.
I wish all our families and friends a year full of blessings, whether they be veiled in disguise and therefore require a little more discernment than others to unpack, or whether they present to you in such a way that you are able to appreciate them and give thanks in that very moment.
Ms Marina Ugonotti