We arrive at Easter after what has been an extraordinary period in everyone’s lives.
Personally, I am reminded of the stories my parents told me of the Great Depression and World War II, when everyone’s lives were turned upside down and individuals, families, communities and countries the world over had to adjust to a ‘new normal’. Similarly, over the past four weeks, we have had to adjust to our new and confronting way of life and with changing daily directives that vary from state to state, it has definitely been a surreal lesson in adaptability and resilience. Having said that, I am just so immensely proud of how the Scotch Oakburn College students, teachers, parents and families have risen to these challenges and supported one other to ensure that we continue to thrive. It has been humbling to be a part of such a united approach.
Perhaps I am feeling sentimental but my parents were also known to repeat the adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, and there is no doubt that the urgent need to find ways to maintain ‘doing and providing’ those things that matter most, has been a catalyst for our creativity, agility and problem-solving at Scotch Oakburn over the past month. Those of us with an eye to the future have seen aspects of education and the College’s operations (that we had thought may exist to some extent in the future) come to full fruition virtually overnight.
Collectively, my colleagues have contributed thousands of hours to learning online delivery programs, converting face-to-face lessons to online formats, and researching and testing suitable curriculum options that support Australian Curriculum requirements. We have all had to grow laterally, intellectually and emotionally, but most importantly we have done it as a team.
Three weeks ago I told my colleagues how proud I was to be a member of this College staff, seeing how positively and proactively they attacked the problems that were thrust upon them: those of providing the e-learning program for our students, working remotely, and adjusting to a school without the physical presence of students. I echo that sentiment again now. All our staff members have been inspirational. Operationally, our non-teaching staff and especially our IT staff have also carried a huge burden and I thank them for the many extra hours and expertise they have extended the College to ensure the way forward has been, and will continue to be, as smooth and equitable as possible.
The College’s Board of Directors has also shown great courage, listening to the Executive, rigorously testing proposals and rationale, making sure that we stay true to our College Values and purpose, and helping to shoulder the responsibility of the major decisions throughout this crisis. I thank them for the considerable time they have extended the College when they have much on their own plates already.
Finally, I would like to thank our extended College community, which has demonstrated overwhelming support for the College’s early actions and has shown an incredible commitment to the continuity of our children’s education together with boundless compassion through their willingness to step up and help one another in all manner of ways.
As has been the case in history, we will emerge on the other side of this pandemic and we will have evolved and grown and learned much both personally and professionally. Significantly, on the other side we will re-evaluate what is most important in our lives, the many small freedoms we have taken for granted, and the relationships that are at the heart of what matters to us all. This crisis will end and when we are back at school and the grounds are again teeming with students, sports, performances, and face-to-face learning and laughter, I am sure that our Scotch Oakburn College community will be even more closely-knit than ever.
To all in our special College community and beyond, I implore you to look after each other, stay well, stay connected, and have a safe Easter; and importantly, if you have worries or concerns about your children, their wellbeing or their learning, or any other matter, please don’t hesitate to reach out.