Last week we celebrated Matariki, the Maori New Year which symbolises renewal. The school is also experiencing a new era with the election of our new Board of Trustees. We are pleased with the number of parents (11) who stood for election and signalled their desire to contribute to the governance of the school. This indicates a strong community spirit and commitment to the school.
Once again we thank the out-going board for all its efforts. Under the leadership of Alanna Young and more recently Blair Telfer, the school has established a strong reputation as an innovative organisation that strives for and achieves equity and excellence. The school is also in a strong financial position and has sound policies and procedures thanks to a robust programme of self-review.
In short we are well set to work with the new board to enter a new phase and a renewed commitment to the school’s vision of growing greatness – kia mana ake.
This week sees the passing of another icon. The death of Muhammad Ali came as a shock to many but relief for a family who had witnessed his suffering from poor health since the end of his boxing career. Social commentators and historians are already assessing the impact of this great man both as a boxer and instrument of social change. His life influenced how we view religion, race and conflict and this must be a measure of greatness.
One of Ali’s famous phrases was “I AM THE GREATEST” and I wondered how relevant his statement is to our vision. Not everyone can be the greatest however we can all aspire to be the greatest we can be. I am sure Muhammad Ali will join me in urging everyone in our community to aspire to greatness in whatever field we choose.
This week we introduce the Te Reo Maori translation of our vision statement “Growing Greatness”.
“Kia mana ake” means to continue to seek ways to improve the internal power we all possess.
As a community we seek ways of promoting cultural diversity and in particular acknowledging our obligations to the Treaty of Waitangi. The newly created Maori and Pasifika committee led by Rebecca McGrath is making significant progress by strengthening ties with families and building on the success of the celebration evening held in term 4 for the last two years.
It was a pleasure to see our Year 9 and 10 girls’ netball team aspiring to perform at the highest level in the Saturday morning competition. After successful grading games they were placed in the second section of their league which means they are in the top 6-12 schools in Auckland. On Saturday they lost narrowly to Auckland Girls’ Grammar in a very exciting game.
They showed admirable resilience by never giving up and I am proud of how they lived our vision – Kia mana ake!
It is useful to remind ourselves of the many ways we promote personalised learning. This may be helpful for parents who can do so much to assist students at home when supplementing the work of our teachers at school. Research shows that one of the biggest influences on student achievement is student reflection on their learning.
How do we support personalised learning?
- Student led conferences – these are held twice a year and are intended to bridge the gap between home and school. Students share their aspirations, reflections and progress with their “school and home coaches”. This is the culmination of a number of other initiatives which help our students to take responsibility for their learning journey.
- Digital resources are used extensively and I urge parents to encourage their use at home. Students should never have the excuse they have no homework as Maths Buddy and Reading Plus provide them with opportunities to strengthen weaknesses or extend themselves further within the curriculum. At school every student has one session a week when they either work on these digital resources or other assessments under the guidance of an experienced teacher (Whanau Based Learning for Year 7 and 8 or Personalised Learning for Year 9 and 10). This is in addition to the session they spend with their learning advisor.
- The DEEP programme provides every student with a chance to discover, extend themselves, cover essential work and explore new opportunities. They design their own timetable from an array of over 100 choices which helps them to deepen their learning.
These strategies have helped our students successfully transition to senior college and developed independent learners.
It was a great pleasure to see students and staff acknowledging this important week in our calendar. We have been fortunate to have hosted a satellite class of the KDEC (Kelston Deaf Education Centre). The class demonstrates our commitment to inclusion and celebrating diversity. Students from the class demonstrated sign language at lunch times and many of our students enjoyed this and other demonstrations during the week. Teachers were also challenged in daily competitions during our staff briefing.
Our students have benefitted greatly from having the satellite class at MHJC. They have learnt an appreciation for students who have risen above their hearing disability to succeed and enjoy their learning. The KDEC students have also inspired various projects and initiatives including the IPENZ award winning project winners who designed an emergency alarm signal for deaf students who could not hear the sound at the school.
The acceptance of the class has helped deaf students to feel part of our community and for normal hearing students to gain an appreciation and consideration for others.
This affirms our vision of growing GREATNESS
G for Good citizens.
As part of our plan to provide a seamless transition to senior college, we offer NCEA achievement standards to students in year 10. Teachers will be preparing students again this year in most year 10 subjects. Our goal is to give students an opportunity to understand and become confident in the NCEA system and it gives students a chance to succeed in a senior assessment framework.
Almost seventy people heard Ms Lambert provide valuable information about NCEA (which is also on our web site) last week and also heard Diana Patience, the new Principal of Ormiston Senior College highlight recent NCEA achievement data and the programmes offered at the school which help their students achieve so well. Almost two in every three students gained an excellence or merit endorsement in level 1 last year which is an outstanding achievement.
We work closely with OSC to ensure our programmes prepare our students for success there and I am pleased to report that providing NCEA opportunities at MHJC does help our students start on the “front foot”.
NCEA is an excellent qualification, acknowledged throughout the world and recognised by universities overseas. It also requires on-going commitment by students to their academic programme rather than an “all or nothing” examination at the end of the year which some schools offer. We find therefore it suits students who prefer to be assessed in a variety of ways (and students have a chance to re-submit if they feel they could do better) at a time when they are ready and with rigorous controls relating to setting, marking and moderating assessments.
I wish all our year 10 students everything of the best as they start their internal assessments. I am sure that they will, like every other occasion, rise to this academic challenge.
I had the honour of accepting the trophy on behalf of our students at the recent launch of the World Series Competition 2016 in Sydney.
It is still amazing to consider the achievement of our great students who worked so hard to win the coveted trophy.
And while I was there, news came through that we had won the Social Studies “leg” of this year’s competition. What a great start and again a compliment to our students who worked during the holidays to achieve this success.
Well done to everyone involved – students, parents and supporters and Ms Hunter for her motivation and organisation.
Notice for those who will be attending or who are thinking of attending the ANZAC Day Parade at Stockade Hill, Howick on April 25.
The Student Executive Council will be marching with other schools from the area. The parade starts at 10.30 – and it would be great to see families and friends there.
This is part of our vision of “growing greatness” – for our students to make a contribution to our local community and support a national day of remembrance.