27 May 2022

From the Acting Principal

Article by Michael Timms - Acting Principal

From the Acting Principal

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the annual JACSA Wellbeing Conference with my colleagues from the network of Jesuit and Companions Schools Australia. The conference was an opportunity for all the Jesuit and Jesuit Companion Schools to come together to discuss initiatives and programs that each school is implementing or adopting in their College specific to wellbeing. We were also fortunate to have two keynote speakers address the cohort over the two day conference; Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, and Luke McKenna, founder of Unleashing Personal Potential. Although the presentations were very different, the theme of ‘relationships’ was significantly evident within both of their presentations.

Fr Frank shared many stories relating to numerous issues specifically to do with student wellbeing in a Catholic context. One of the areas that resonated with me in his presentation was the importance he placed on teachers connecting with students and building our students, parents and staff capacity to establish ‘relationships in community’. He considered that the only way we can truly flourish as humans is if we establish relationships with others and place others before ourselves.

“You are not an atomized individual. Your human flourishing can only be reached in relationship with others”. Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, 2022.

The concept of flourishing to live a complete and holistic life has also been established by Dr Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology. Dr Seligman considered that for an individual to flourish they have to maintain and build upon five areas.

  • Positive emotions

  • Engagement

  • Relationships

  • Meaning

  • Accomplishment

At the conference Luke McKenna, founder of ‘Unleashing Personal Potential’, outlined in detail Dr Seligman’s PERMA model but again highlighted the importance on relationships. Luke discussed the joy, support, connections and importantly the protective factor to mental health issues that social relationships can bring our young people and similarly ourselves.

The discussion around relationships prompted me to reflect on what we are doing as a College, to create the space that is necessary to enhance the relationships of our students. Alternatively as Fr Frank stated, what are we doing to provide the opportunity for human flourishing, within our school.

One area that I have witnessed first-hand that changes relationships with students and staff for the better and allows the opportunity for all students to flourish, is through school camps.

Recently we had our Year 7 cohort attend the Anglesea YMCA Camp. This camp creates a safe and nurturing environment for our young people to build and foster those important connections with the staff and peers at the College. It also provides encounters that can only build upon a young person’s ability to deal with stressful and challenging situations. Creating that necessary resilience and grit that will inevitably assist them in completing their secondary schooling. A highlight for many students is always the new friendships that have been established by sharing the experiences together. The Year 7 Coordinator, Mrs Leonie O’Brien, did a fantastic job coordinating the camp and I would like to thank her and all the Year 7 team for their organisation and attendance.

Our Year 9 camp is scheduled to take place over the next two weeks. This camp is designed to challenge our students physically, mentally and emotionally, within a secure and safe environment. This expedition allows our students to understand that they need to work as a group with different individuals they may not necessarily know or relate to on a regular basis. The establishment of friendships and relationships is overwhelmingly evident and could not occur in any other environment. Furthermore, this type of trip allows our young people the opportunity to flourish in every aspect of the term, and for them to come to the realisation that it is important to place others before themselves.

I wish Caleb Ryan (the Year 9 Coordinator) and all the staff and students attending all the best for the upcoming expedition.

After sharing many ideas and thoughts at the conference, I look forward to continuing to work with our young people, families and wider community to build and foster those important relationships that allow our students to flourish.

Michael Timms 

Acting Principal