Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14: 27 (NIV)
As you read through this edition of NCS Bytes I am confident that you will be greatly encouraged by the wide variety of activities that our students and staff have been engaged in throughout this, the third week of Term 4. I would now wish to focus on just a few of these events in a little more detail.
I mentioned last term, after returning from Orange Christian School, that the opportunity to visit other school communities is always a most valuable one. On Monday of this week, I had the privilege of accompanying Evelyn Meek and Paul McLennan, our two Heads of School and Erin West, English and Drama teacher and Careers Adviser, as we visited two government schools located near The Entrance on the Central Coast of New South Wales. The schools were Brooke Avenue Public School (K-6) and Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College (Tumbi Umbi Campus, Years 7-10). This is the group of schools where both Mr and Mrs West have had previous teaching roles.
We visited these schools to examine a particular model of teaching that began in the United States almost 40 years ago and that has now been modified for the Australian context. We were addressed directly by both staff and students who have been actively involved in this program for a number of years. We were certainly impressed by the enthusiasm displayed by both groups as they shared the reasons why they have confidence that this model of teaching leads to improved student outcomes. As always, we have returned from this visit with much ‘food for thought’ as we further consider the relevance of this program to our NCS context.
As mentioned in last week’s Bytes, we took the opportunity to celebrate ‘World Teachers’ Day’ during this past week. On Tuesday, all staff joined together as we observed this important event through the provision of a specially decorated cake. Three teaching staff members, appropriately representing our Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary sections, were chosen to symbolically cut this cake. (Please see photographs of this event.) We were most grateful that Mr. Paul Dickinson, our Board Chairman, made himself available to address all staff, teaching and non-teaching, on behalf of our NCS school community. He especially thanked the staff team for their tireless commitment to the provision of a quality Christian education for each one of our NCS students. Mr. Dickinson reminded us that he had also been a student at our school and that he had personally appreciated the vital role that NCS staff had played in his own educational and faith development.
Mr. Dickinson referred to a special verse from the Bible that he stated regularly comes to his mind when he is praying for our NCS staff. I know that staff were greatly encouraged by his words and it is my desire to share this verse with our wider school community. It comes from 1 Thessalonians 1: 2-3 where the Apostle Paul states ‘We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Wednesday brought with it even further variety. Firstly, I was invited back to a presentation by
the Year 8 Mandatory Technology class. I have also reported in Bytes on this group earlier in the year as they have engaged in a ‘real-life’ educational project where they are designing the layout, including furniture, for an outdoor learning space, located behind the MPC and adjacent to a number of Secondary classrooms.
As a representative of NCS school leadership, I represent the client, and I had previously presented them with a design brief, outlining the educational and recreational uses that were envisaged for this space. During Wednesday’s lesson, each group presented their final designs (with written costings) for this learning space. (Please see collage of designs provided with this article.) I was greatly impressed with the professionalism of these presentations and I will now liaise with key members of our school leadership team as we consider our responses to these design proposals.
On Wednesday afternoon, I travelled to Cedars Christian College in Wollongong to attend the Australian College of Educators regional teaching award presentations. It was my great pleasure to join with family, friends and colleagues of those nominated as we celebrated the rich diversity of educational talents that teachers in our region display. I am delighted to state that four NCS staff were worthy recipients of these awards. NCS staff members recognised at this prestigious event were Mrs. Ellery and Dallimore and Mr. Vidler and Parker. (Please follow the link for a more detailed article, associated photographs and video footage.)
To complete a week that was full of stimulation and variety, I had the pleasure of joining an appreciative audience of Primary students and many parents and family friends who were gathered together for the Primary Music Tuition Assembly. What a privilege it was to be able to sit back and enjoy the musical presentations and vocal performances from an amazing number of our student musicians as they shared with us the great progress that they are making as they continue to master their chosen musical instruments. At this point I would wish to acknowledge the wonderful professionalism of Mrs. Lawrence and our talented team of instrumental music teachers who work tirelessly to inspire and encourage our students as they steadily grow in confidence and musical competence.
We are delighted that we will have two Kindergarten classes once again next year. Throughout this term, parents and children have been participating in a well organised transition program. This has involved small groups of Kinder (2018) children spending time in the Kindergarten classrooms with our staff and some of this year’s Kinder students. I have received very positive reports about the value of these activities. Today we held the 2018 Combined Kindergarten Transition event which saw our Kinder (2018) children coming together for the first time as a complete group and spending an hour in the kindergarten classrooms with our staff. During this time, all parents were invited to attend a special afternoon tea in the church hall. It provided a valuable opportunity for informal discussion with other parents and some NCS staff.
Please remember to continue to uphold our HSC students in prayer as the external examination program continues. The final examination for NCS students will occur on Monday, 6 November.
The focus verse for this week comes from one of the staff devotional presentations that I had the privilege of attending during this week. I have previously shared that throughout Term 4 all NCS staff are participating in a devotional series that explores our personal testimonies and highlights a Bible verse or verses that have special significance in relation to our individual Christian journeys. I have found this series to be wonderfully encouraging as staff have honestly shared how God has transformed their lives and is constantly directing their footsteps. Whilst there is an incredible variety in the testimonies presented, I have noticed a number of common elements. One of these that has become most apparent to me is that we serve a faithful God who never gives up on us. No matter how far we stray from him, he is always willing to mount a ‘rescue mission’ in order to bring us back into rich fellowship with himself. It was in this context that one staff member shared that the words of John 14: 27 have continued to bring them great reassurance as they have embarked on their Christian walk. I would wish to conclude this article with the words of this powerful and uplifting verse. It states ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’