Newsletter #12 09/12/2020

Principal’s Report

2020 has come and gone and I wanted to reflect on our experience by revisiting part of an article I presented in one of our earlier School Newsletters this year.

One of the main things that continued to be reinforced to all of us during Remote Learning#1&2 was that there was no ‘one size fits all’ approach to support all learners. We saw the teachers rise to the occasion and use the feedback from students, parents, the experiences of their colleagues, and their engagement with other professional networks to adopt new daily and weekly routines for the students. As at school, class work was targeted to individual needs and adapted to cater to individual and family circumstances. There were many positive outcomes to the Remote Learning experience. We enjoyed and appreciated seeing:
Parents significantly increasing their connection with their child’s learning
Flexible use of the school day to take into consideration family needs and commitments
Students developing their organisational and time management, skills
Students taking more responsibility and ownership for their learning
Increased communication and connection between teachers and parents
An increase in the responsible use of digital applications in teaching and learning
The increased usability of online resources for teacher engagement with students
Students’ eyes opening to learning that can occur outside the classroom

Thank you to everyone in the Maharishi School Community – parents, students, staff and the School Board. I am proud of the manner in which we all pulled together to navigate our way through one of the most challenging years many of us have experienced; personally and professionally.

My Ode to 2020
The year started brightly,
With students and staff excited and keen.
But then out of nowhere
Came COVID-19.

Remote learning would be new,
It would challenge us all
How would everyone be able to cope?
However, our teachers, students and parents all stood tall.

They Zoomed, emailed and phoned
To all stay in touch
But after nearly two terms,
It all became a bit too much.

“Send the kids back to school,”
Parents could be heard shouting aloud
And the shouting grew louder and louder,
Like a (non-COVID) Carlton v Collingwood MCG crowd.

“We can’t wait to see you!’
Exclaimed the teachers at school.
A school without students?
That’s not very cool!

When Term 4 had arrived
Everyone was back where they should be
Pearls, Sapphires, Diamonds and Emeralds,
How delightful they were to see.

So now this unprecedented school year
Has ended on a much happier note
And we look forward to 2021
Being a COVID-Normal year and a GOAT* (*Greatest Of All Time)

2021 – What Can We Look Forward To?
As this school year comes to a close, our thoughts and plans never stop for the initiatives and opportunities we seek to provide our students . Below are just some of the exciting new initiatives, and others that will be returning, that we can look forward to in 2021:
Art Therapy Practicum
We will be welcoming Chloe to our school for a good portion of 2021 as she undertakes her placement as part of her Art Therapy studies with MIECAT. Chloe will be mentored by Leisa and work with students during Art sessions and on a longer-term project to enhance students’ development using a strengths-based approach that reflects the students’ love of and engagement with Art and creativity.

Student Tutoring Program
As already announced to the school community earlier this term, the school is committed to providing opportunities to all our students to enhance their learning. Our focus will be on providing students additional support that is evidence-based, such as the benchmark testing we undertake at the beginning of each school year.
On page 5 of this Newsletter, I have given a brief overview of the school’s Intervention strategies that we implement and have assessed to be extremely powerful in contributing to the positive outcomes achieved with individual students.

Grandmother Moon Project
COVID-19 caused the postponement of our Creative Victoria Project and partnership with Barking Spider Visual Theatre. However, 2021 will see us resume our planning for Grandmother Moon which has now been rescheduled for latter part of Term 1 and early Term 2.

Relaunch of our popular Homework Club
This popular after-school program offers students the opportunity to pursue an interest in the Creative and Performing Arts, Sport, Life Skills such as cooking or curriculum-inspired activities such as Mathematics, Literacy, Robotics & IT.
Further details will be provided to students and parents prior to the beginning of the school year.

Tennis Coaching at Keon Park Tennis Club
We plan to begin this program sometime during Term 1 & 2 when we will not be experiencing temperatures above 320.
The coaching program usually runs between 3.45-5.00pm but will only be scheduled with a minimum requirement for participation of 20 students.

Student Lunches
In early Term 1 we will seek expressions of interest from parents who will be able to offer their culinary skills to prepare a special Student Lunch one day each week – usually on a Friday.

Participation in inter-school Primary School Chess Tournaments
In 2021 we plan to launch a Chess Club, including coaching instruction from Northern Star Chess Club. Opportunities will be made available for students to participate in a chess club during lunchtimes or after school, during special incursion programs and a big state level series of zonal chess tournaments with other primary schools in our region.

Boite Choir
Our school will once again participate in this wonderful event. We normally begin during Term 2 and work towards the big performance in August 2021. Next year’s musical program is “Akoma”, featuring songs and dances from the West African nation of Ghana. “Akoma” will bring together playful songs, with vibrant movement and tales that are 1000’s of years old with a message of tolerance and peace. 

Instrumental Music (Piano)
Nick will resume at the school in 2021. He will communicate with those families who had already expressed an interest to enrol in the *Instrumental Music Program. Please note that decisions about a student’s participation, including scheduled lessons during school time, will be made in consultation with the Classroom Teacher who will give their recommendation about:
Whether Instrumental Music lessons should in fact be considered for the student during school hours
If considered appropriate, what classroom sessions are available for the student to participate in piano lessons.

* There are no plans at this stage to conduct guitar lessons as part of the Instrumental Music Program in 2021

Regular “Writing Workshops” for Students with a Published Author
We are investigating how we may facilitate the inclusion of these Author Workshops, to enhance students’ writing, into the school timetable. Possibilities include: during Classroom Literacy sessions, Homework Club, Clubs Program or as part of an “Enhancement Program” for students who have displayed a love of and skill for creative writing.

2021 – What Can We Look Forward To? (continued)
Increased Opportunities for Group Meditation Sessions
A strong school community has its basis in expanded awareness.
The SCI principle “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts” reminds us how:
“One person’s fulfillment is his own fulfillment, but the fulfillment of two people together is more than the fulfilment of each. Gaining that greater fulfillment is an inspiration to be together.” (Maharishi)

As 2020 draws to a close, Maharishi School reflects on how the day-to-day connection with our school community helps cultivate and nourish all the fine feelings that we see expressed so often in the students. Maharishi School would like to place a special emphasis for 2021 on “The Coming Together” through the group practice of Transcendental Meditation.
“Spontaneously the practice of TM has inculcated in us a habit of cherishing the more tender values of life, the more tender impulses of life. That is how spontaneously the environment becomes more of joy to us and we become a glory to our environment” (Maharishi)

Maharishi School would like to invite all TM Meditating parents to come together in Term 1, 2021 to the following group sessions whilst your children are taken care of by school staff. Join us every Monday & Friday at 8:30am – 8:50am in our Student Meditation Room.

2021 Maharishi School Planner
Attached to the email with this School Newsletter is the School Planner for next year that includes the term dates and all the events during 2021 for which we have already been able to secure dates. Some dates may be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances but you will always be notified as soon as we become aware of the need to make a change.

Maharishi School Portal
Mr. Cove’s and Emeralds’ Film-making Debut – “Superhero Academy”
Mr Cove has written/directed and produced an outstanding Drama project with the Emeralds that he and the class have made into a 30-minute film. We all watched it at our Monday Morning Assembly and the reaction of all our students gave it a huge thumbs-up!! Many were heard saying they couldn’t wait to watch it over and over again. ‘Superhero Academy’ can now be viewed on our Maharishi School Portal

Science
Mrs. Aston would like everyone to know that the “Soil Your Undies Wrap Up” is on the Portal. You can locate it in the “Subject: Science” section in each class. It is well worth watching.

Year 6 Graduation
The speeches made by each of our Year 6 Graduates will be on the Portal early next week in the “School News” section.

School Photos
Our annual school photos have been taken and are now ready to order.
Arthur Reed Photos uses an online ordering system where you can view your photos prior to ordering. On photo day all students received a flyer which includes a code unique to them. You will require this 2020 code to register online and view your photos. f you have already registered, you will receive an email or SMS from Arthur Reed Photos with a link to view your photos. f you have not yet registered, please go to order.arphotos.com.au and enter your code to complete your order. If you have misplaced your registration code, please contact the Arthur Reed Photos customer service team directly on 5243 4390 or customerservice@arphotos.com.au

Please note that you will need to register online with your 2020 photo code to gain access to this year’s images. Please ensure that you enter the correct details and nominated shipping address upon checkout. If you require any assistance ordering your photos, please contact Arthur Reed Photos directly on 5243 4390 or email customerservice@arphotos.com.au

Final Student Assembly for 2020
What a delight, and how appropriate it was, to finally be able to come together as a Maharishi School community, something we have sorely missed for most of the year.
Bad weather and restrictions were against us on Monday, when we had originally planned this Assembly. However, if you are an optimist and believe that “everything happens for a reason”, you would suggest that rescheduling the Assembly for today worked out perfectly!

Listening to each student’s name read out, with the two main qualities their teachers felt they displayed throughout the year, was heartwarming. There is so much that we see in your children that goes to their depth of character. They are all amazing children.

For the first time in Maharishi School’s history, and deservedly so, we awarded the Robert Brown 2020 award to all our Year 6 Graduating Students; Abhay, Noah, Sara, Maeve, Ashwin and Bella, for their individual growth of consciousness and in recognition of their achievement of supporting and raising the entire school collective consciousness. Our congratulations to our amazing graduates, affectionately dubbed “The Dream Team”!

These students started together in Prep and completed their years at Maharishi School in Year 6, graduating as outstanding young people who epitomise the aim and mission of Maharishi School for its students. We farewell their families, some of whom have been with us for 10 years, and will sorely be missed for their contribution to the heart and soul of our school during that time.

As one group of students departs, another group transitions to take their place to add their individual contribution to all those preceding them. The 2021 Student Leadership positions were announced.

Excitingly, next year all of the Year 6 students will share the responsibility of Assembly organisation and presentation with the School Captain on a rotating basis. We will hold a presentation ceremony for the Student Leadership Team at the start of the 2021 school year. We are looking forward to a wonderful year of growth and achievement for our student leaders.

Departing Staff

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Gabby to our Learning Support Team and After School Care during her time at our school. Gabby graduates this year as a Speech Therapist and will leave us to embark on her chosen career. We wish her all the best. She will be missed for the personal and professional aptitude she has brought to her roles.

Implementing a School-Based Response Strategy to Intervention
Schools have long been implementing targeted interventions to provide specialised supports for students who may have reading difficulties, for example, students who have a language background other than English. The example of “Tiered Instruction”, a model used by our school can offer guidance on how our teaching and learning is woven into our school’s approach to improving student outcomes.
This approach can be visualised using the diagram below, Tier 1 is instruction intended for all students, supplemental and increasingly individualised. Tier 2 and then Tier 3 interventions provide additional and more intense support for students who have not achieved expected learning from the general Tier 1 instruction (Davies & Henderson, 2020).

Specialist Support: When we have a student who has a diagnosed learning difficulty or “disability*”, the school will seek to have in place a specialist intervention program delivered by a trained professional in that specific field. This could be through ongoing support in class/school, regular offsite consultations or a combination of both. This may include students who require Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy or a trained professional in dyslexia, autism, social/emotional development.
Targeted Intervention: if a student requires additional support beyond what can reasonably be offered by whole-class teaching, a targeted or one-to-one intervention is used to provide more intensive focus for the student to make progress
Whole-Class Teaching: this is the starting point to determining whether further support is required by a student, emanating from their response to the teaching and learning that takes place to all students in their class. If it is established through an evidence-based approach that the student has not responded to the range of strategies and activities used by the teacher, then the teacher will discuss this with other colleagues and the Principal to recommend additional support such as “Targeted Intervention”

On behalf of the School Staff and School Board, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe school holiday period with your family and friends. We are a multicultural school community, with parents and students originating from around 21 different countries and cultural origins around the world. So, whatever celebrations are important to you over the next six weeks, may you celebrate them with happiness and joy.

We look forward to seeing everyone return on Monday 1st February 2021; current Maharishi School families as well as the new families and students who will be joining us in Prep and other year levels across the school.

We hope for 2021 to be a year that we return to a level of normality that will allow us to enjoy the many aspects of school life that our so dear to our hearts and enjoyed by us each day, while we also reflect on what defines Maharishi School as a unique educational institution for the children of Melbourne:

“A principal goal of every educational system, whether stated or implied, is to develop moral maturity. We want our children to grow into adults who respect others, who care about the welfare of their community and the world, and who take responsibility for society and for those less fortunate. And we hope our children will understand what it means to be honest and straightforward and to aspire to appropriate moral and ethical decisions”.
(from the book “Royal Road to Enlightenment – Maharishi”)

Steve Charisis – Principal