Maharishi School, Reservoir: Newsletter #5

Principal’s Report

Dear Parents and Students,

Welcome back for the beginning of Term 2. I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful school holiday period and there was good quality time spent with each other, family and friends.

This term we will continue our transformation and transitioning into a new era with new initiatives undertaken at the school to add value to school life for students, teachers and parents.

Students have been invited to become members of our new School Choir. The choir will rehearse on Thursdays under the guidance of Ms Wilson O’Brien and initially include students from Years 2-6. The aim for our choir is to develop into a group that happily and enthusiastically performs publicly, both within and outside the immediate school environment.

There are a range of excursions already planned for individual grades as well as whole-school involvement. Details will be sent to you when final confirmation for these activities is received.
The students will be participating in a weekly “Indoor Sports” Program at TRAC, where qualified coaches will oversee their participation in a range of sporting activities.

The Age Article
Members of our school community have likely been alerted to the article about our school in The Sunday Age and The Age Online written by Education Reporter Henrietta Cook.

The background to this is that I received an email from Ms Cook last Wednesday informing me that she would be writing a story about – to quote her – “the VRQA investigation into the school” and was hoping someone could contact her. Ms Cook was hoping to get some comment about a number of con- cerns that were raised with her (I expect this would have been from either one or more of the quoted/unquoted parents in the article) about the school including, to quote her;
“- some parents didn’t received a report for their child last year
– alleged misspending of federal government funds for buildings
– the use of herbal medicines to treat learning difficulties”

I consulted with members of the MGANL Board about the matter and was supported in making contact with Ms Cook. Mr Peter Fenwick, our Chairman of the MGANL Board, also agreed to speak with Ms Cook. What ensued for me was a pleasant 20+ minute conversation addressing these matters and also an opportunity to correct her terminology such as the use of the term “VRQA Investigation” instead of more correctly and accurately referring to it as a VRQA Review of Minimum Standards, As I stressed to Ms Cook, the VRQA has no interest, nor jurisdiction, in dealing with most of the matters raised by her or the people feeding her the story.

The article that was finally written by Ms Cook was such a dis- appointment to me and many others to whom I have spoken since its publication as it did not include anywhere near the detailed information I provided her. I felt compelled to respond to her and hence wrote her the email below, on behalf of our school.

Dear Henrietta,
I enjoyed our chat the other day. Being familiar with your writing, together with your lovely manner with me on the phone, I felt comfortable and optimistic in the way you would report our discussion and the information I relayed to you.

One of my close friends has just alerted me about the posting of your article online. As an outsider to the school and a respected educator himself, but as a close friend of mine, he wondered about “its purpose, balance and accuracy”. I have just read the article too. I’m still unsure about its timing and your reasons for proceeding with it because as I mentioned to you, the school had just undertaken the VRQA review into our school’s compliance with the minimum standards required for a school’s registration. Nevertheless, I cooperated with you in the hope that an honest and transparent approach would be appreciated and respected by you. We only recently received a draft report from the VRQA-appointed reviewers which portrays Maharishi School in an extremely good light, with only a few minor things requiring our attention. I also mentioned to you the pride I have in our teachers, other staff, parents, students and members of the School Council and MGANL Board for their support and commitment to the changes and new direction of the school this year – “stress free”. I believe that if you had waited until the re- view’s findings were finalised by the VRQA, then having the full and complete story would have been more appropriate.

Our discussion enabled me to refute the allegations made to you by parents (although you did not disclose them all to me e.g. banning some playground games and families not receiving an end-of-year student report – absolutely wrong!) and stress to you the positive shift in the school climate from what it was in the latter part of 2015 so I was incredibly dis- appointed in your story for not including the above. The real story to me is how a school community has now been able to come together after “some turmoil”, including dealing with a core group of disaffected parents no longer at the school but intent on causing damage to the school’s standing and reputation through the spreading of misinformation (including to you and to the consultants), and our ability and prepared- ness to overcome this to now all work together collaboratively and cohesively to move forward and address the areas requiring our attention, while ensuring the wellbeing of our students and the school community remains paramount.

It was also incredibly disappointing to me personally and professionally that you incorrectly wrote that the Board appointed me last year. When asked, I mentioned to you quite clearly that I began in my role at the beginning of the school year this year. As you may understand, this inaccuracy in your reporting places me at the school in 2015 during the time these issues arose when in fact I was not. The likely interpretation by others now may be that these issues occurred during my tenure and associated with my appointment. I respectfully ask you to amend this.

I have the best interests of our school community at heart when I respectfully ask you to please do us the courtesy of amending the inaccuracies you have printed. I look forward to speaking with you in the future when perhaps you will be keen to write a good news story about our school’s progress and its bright future.
With kind regards,
Steve Charisis

A couple of our key Board members are also preparing responses to her article and will send these to her and to the Editor.

Thank you to everyone who has since spoken to me about this matter. The rehashing of old news holds no place for us in the bright future we are planning for our school. Your support for the school and the people within is very much appreciated.

School Uniform
We are currently in the transition period between Summer and Winter Uniforms. That is, students are able to wear either uniform.

From Monday 2nd May, all students are expected to be in full Winter Uniform. Please see Suzi at the General Office if you require items of Winter Uniform.

Our Winter School Uniform consists of:

Checked navy, white and green pinafore or skirt White long-sleeve polo top with school logo Long navy blue socks or navy blue tights
Navy blue Maharishi School jumper, and/or Navy blue Maharishi School jacket
Black shoes

Green trousers
White long-sleeve polo top with school logo Navy blue socks ·
Navy blue Maharishi School jumper, and/or Navy blue Maharishi School jacket
Black shoes

Hair should be neat and well-groomed in a natural, dignified style, without extremes of colour or cut. For girls, plain bottle-green ribbons or ties, or ‘scrunchies’ made out of school uniform material, are all acceptable. Long hair should be neatly styled or tied back.

Parents & Friends Association (PFA)

(a) Community Spirit

2016 is a year of reflection for the Maharishi School where we can join together as a community to celebrate our accomplishments, with a special ceremony of healing and celebration.

The PFA are arranging an opportunity for the school to come together to reflect on and celebrate our accomplishments as individuals, families and as a school community.

Where: Maharishi School
When: Sunday 17th April (10.30am – 12.30pm)
What to bring: For our group activity you should bring fresh or dried flowers/herbs, legumes, leaves, seeds, small fruit (grapes, sultanas) Vegetarian food to share.

The event will commence with a group meditation followed by a community activity, tree planting and a shared meal.

We would enjoy seeing all families attending this event. Please RSVP to our General Office by this Thursday 14th April at 11am

(b) Fundraising

Maharishi School – Spare Change Fundraiser – A PFA Fund- raiser for our school.

The aim is to raise money to purchase books for the school library. Each class will be given a container to collect spare change. The fundraiser will run for 2 weeks – from the 18th till the 29th of April. The fundraiser will conclude at 3pm on the 29th April. A prize will be awarded to the class that raises the most money

The car
Your room
Your bag
The lounge
The washing machine
Ask family & friends to help!!

Did we mention a prize?
The class that collects the most money will be awarded a pizza lunch.

ABC Splash and Paper Planes
Last term we enjoyed a visit from Dylan Parker, of Paper Planes fame, and Beth Shepherd from the ABC Splash pro- gram.

Beth has thanked us for allowing her to come and do some recording of the paper plane sessions at our school. She had a great time and recorded lots of good footage for ABC Splash.

Beth also wanted to let us know that the ABC has started publishing the paper plane clips!

A Message from Mrs Clarke
“I am currently at Maharishi University of Manage- ment in Fairfield Iowa spending time with the head of the Education Department and with the school lead- ers and students at Maharishi School. I will be return- ing to Australia on the 20th April and looking forward to continuing my new role as Director of Conscious- ness-Based Education.”

Term 1 Art
Throughout term 1, all classes were involved in learning about “colour theory” in art. Colour theory includes the knowledge of primary, secondary and tertiary colours and how to add black and white when tinting and shad- ing. If you haven’t had the chance to check out the Emeralds’ impressive abstract paintings in the multi- purpose room, we welcome you to come in. The Pearls used their understanding of colour to create beautiful watercolour flowers that are also on display.

I am certainly gaining so much enjoyment and satisfaction from teaching art to your children this year. I hope each student is enjoying the classes as much as me.
Leisa James

Diamonds Term 1

For the SCI Principle The Nature of Life is to Grow, each student was asked to create a person to show what they want to be when they grow up. We had a great variety of future careers, including a dance teacher, soccer player, inventor and author!

At the end of Term 1, the Diamonds went on an excursion to the Royal Botanic Gardens where they learnt about local Indigenous Australian culture and traditions.

Year 7 Transition

If any families are interested in finding out more about Melbourne Girl’s College for their child in 2017, please see the office to collect an Open Day flyer.