Empowering Girls – Jennifer Oaten
Being a principal brings me much joy when I see the incredible opportunities that empower our students in and out of the classroom. This term has been no different. Our teachers provided many experiences for our students to connect learning to life, develop personal strengths and build friendships. These are just some of the things I have seen in action across Years 5-12 that make me believe our students are engaging in opportunities and believe anything is possible!
Year 5 - Fearless5
The students were asked, ‘How might we provide a safe and sustainable environment for the local birds?’ They heard from guest speakers, bird watched, researched and created many exciting solutions to answer their big question. This program challenged all students. They collected and analysed data and implemented their solution. It is easy to think of a solution, but evaluating and improving their solution is more challenging. The energy in every Year 5 classroom and the capacity of the girls to succeed has been a highlight.
Year 6 - Kermen Adventure Camp
Year 6s were provided with was an action-packed three days of physical challenges to develop their ability to be brave. The key purpose was to build friendships, develop teamwork and build resilience through a ropes course, rock climbing, archery, orienteering and games. The girls returned more confident, independent and willing to try new opportunities and with a greater understanding of the importance of supporting others.
Year 7 - Seek7
Empowering our girls to understand their world and their capacity to shape it was a key outcome of Seek 7. Students researched water sustainability. They collaborated to refine their chosen topic, conduct research, and present their findings. Our Mercy context underpins this program and fosters our students understanding of the importance of stewardship in caring for our Earth. Students also developed an appreciation of the benefits and challenges of working collaboratively.
A Nearer to Nature excursion and weekly challenges such as the Escape Room Challenge on the topic of water, specifically ‘the hydrological cycle’, stimulated students to believe they could solve problems and make a difference.
Year 8 - Explore8
The starting point for this project was an interview with someone different from themselves who could show them what it was like to walk in their shoes. Stories of innovation and success from outstanding guest speakers also provided stimuli for students to develop their own design-thinking, extended project.
Explore8 requires sustained critical thought and planning, research, partnerships with mentors, decision making, the creation of a product, reflection, and the ability to present an innovative solution to a problem for someone in our community. It is evident that in Explore8, the ‘Connecting Learning to Life’ attributes are in action.
Year 9 - Strive9
We encourage our students to promote a passionate interest in social justice and social action through their beliefs, values, attitudes, and, most importantly, actions. Strive9 is a student-led experience that fosters a sense of making a difference for a community group in need or impacts on an environmental issue they are passionate about. Students implement their project, assess their success and present their process and outcomes to an audience. The key objective is the implementation or action for change. We believe in upskilling our students to be active citizens of the global community.
Year 10 - Pathway Planning
After completing their first exams, which they did with commitment and perseverance, our Year 10 students began their journey of making decisions about pathways and courses for Years 11 and 12. Our students have 26 ATAR courses and 13 General courses to choose from. Not an easy task but one done with our underlying advice of choosing subjects you are passionate about. Students heard from speakers about the future of work. Alumni and staff shared their stories on their varied pathways since leaving school. From this, students developed an understanding that they may take many different pathways to reach their dream career. The focus was on student strengths, keeping their options open, maximising their potential and knowing that any career is achievable.
Year 11 - Workplace Learning
Experience in the workplace is one of the challenging experiences provided for our Year 11 students taking part in the ACCESS pathway. Each student selects a profession they are interested in exploring for the future and completes 10 days in the workforce. The experience allows students to develop confidence, learn new skills, understand professional expectations and determine if the career is a good choice for them. The feedback from the employers regarding our students was outstanding.
Year 12 - Leadership
Being a leader is not always easy, and our Year 12s have been challenged throughout the term, no more so than for Girls 4Girls Day yesterday. This annual event is planned, implemented and celebrated by our Year 12s to raise awareness of the importance of education for girls.
The girls collected funds and sanitary products for girls in need and were overwhelmed with the donations received. As we were in lockdown and many aspects of this event needed to be cancelled, our leaders’ spirit, energy, and enthusiasm to bring ‘pink’ and brightness to our community was outstanding. They never once complained but adapted, were resilient, and thought differently to make the day such a success, just like leaders of any major company. We are very proud of our leaders for what they have achieved on this day and throughout the term
These are just some of the experiences that our students have been part of this term. I am sure many of us would love to go back to school to be part of our students’ experiences. Schools today are so different from schools of the past; for Santa Maria College, it is all about empowering girls!