Friday 20 November 2015

The Riverview Pulse

The Riverview pulse continues to beat strongly in spite of the fact that we are confronting the final days of the academic year. While the teaching staff are finalising assessments and entering into the report writing stages, much other activity is occurring at all levels across the College. Over the last fortnight Riverview has hosted two major forums to promote the cause of collaboration between Jesuit schools across the world. The first is a delegation from Boston College and Fordham Preparatory School, both very established and highly respected Jesuit schools in Boston and New York, respectively. For some time, staff at Riverview have been developing links with both schools in an effort to promote stronger connectivity with the aim of developing student and staff exchange programs, as has been the case with Clongowes in Ireland for many years. Outcomes from this visit have been immediate and significant, leading to the first student exchange program in 2016, that will see a delegation of Year 10 students from the United States hosted in Australia with a reciprocal visit to the US. It is also envisaged that a staff exchange program will be developed from 2017, along with curriculum initiatives between the United States and Australia involving Project Based Learning activities via virtual and digital platforms. And, it is also hoped that boys from respective schools will be able to participate in service activities in their respective countries in order to deepen their awareness of, and response to, this key element of Ignatian spirituality. In essence, Jesuit schools from across the world aim to deepen collaboration through tailored curriculum experiences and through staff and student exchange programs. These are exciting futures that speak to the internationalisation of education and stronger links between Jesuit schools on a global scale.

In addition to the visit from the United States, Riverview is host to the Asian Ignatian Teaching Program, which has seen 24 delegates from key Asian countries, including Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macau spend the week at College. The forum focusses on information technology and how that is being developed in Jesuit schools across Asia to improve student learning outcomes. Delegates of the conference have not only shared best practice but have visited classrooms to see the innovations that are being implemented at Riverview and assess what that may mean for their own schools and jurisdictions. As part of the experience, the delegates also joined ‘Instructional Rounds’, which involves staff from the schools observing classroom practice and providing feedback to teachers in designated areas of practice. Research into classroom observation and teacher feedback has shown an inextricable link with educational efficacy and improved learning outcomes so it is important that the College embrace these practices, particularly with the network of Jesuit schools across the Asia Pacific Region.

Students in Year 10 have completed their Project Based Learning (PBL) activities and these were presented to a series of guests who were invited to the College last Friday. PBL is a collaborative process of learning that fuses research, analysis, synthesis and presentation skills on a transdisciplinary topic associated with, in this instance Catholic Social Teaching on social policy, which encourages lateral thinking and collaboration. Among the visitors were Mr Barry Unsworth – former Premier of New South Wales, Mr Anthony Roberts – Resources and Energy Minister, Mr Jonathon O’Dea – Member for Davidson, Mr Daniel Mookhey – Member of the Legislative Council, Mr Andrew O’Sullivan – Chief of Staff to Matthew Mason-Cox (MLC) and Mr Patrick Rodgers – Social Policy Researcher at Sydney University. By any standards, it was a discerning panel and one that tested the boys on the quality of their research and standards of presentation. I am happy to report that the comments from the judging panel were all very favourable with many resounding affirmations the boys’ response to the task with insight, integrity, creativity and commitment.

Posters, masks, cut-out boards, sculptures, Heroic Story short films and a wide variety of artworks were on display as part of the Regis Art Exhibition last Friday evening. Testament to the creativity and vitality of the works, the Exhibition embraced vivid hues, phantasmagorical designs, the use of symmetry and asymmetry, and not unimportantly, humour and irony. As much as the works had their own inherent attraction, the transformation of the hall to the status of a ‘Riverview Gallery’, was instructive to see, particularly the genres of art that were grouped into their own mini-exhibitions. Representing a culmination of a semester’s work, the boys can be very proud of the final product, one that drew acclaim from the many parents who were able to attend. Special thanks are extended to Mr Eli Faen, who coordinated all elements of the Exhibition and who has guided the boys in their endeavours throughout the year.

Over 450 staff, parents and students – past and current, gathered in the Ramsay Hall on Friday evening to formally farewell one of Riverview’s finest – Ms Erica Reading. After 45 years in Jesuit schools (16 at St Aloysius and 29 at St Ignatius’ Riverview), Erica has decided to step back from the daily demands of the classroom and take life a little more slowly. It would not be difficult to fill a book with testimonials of students and parents who have been the beneficiaries of Erica’s love for the boys and the enduring and profound impact she has had on them. I believe the following lines capture the essence of Erica’s work over a protracted period of time:

I, along with so many other students, was blessed to have been guided by Miss Reading. She will best be remembered for the small moments; the conversations at lunch or in the corridors; the consistent concern and interest in every student. However, we shouldn’t be greedy. We were exceptionally lucky to have her as long as we did.

Rhys Pogonoski (OR 07)

A number of other staff have recently been appointed to promotion positions in other schools and we will have opportunity to farewell them and thank them for their contribution to the culture of the College in place and time.

Meanwhile, the timetable for 2016 is under construction, staffing for the coming academic year is being put into place, the Year 9 Challenge is entering the latter stages, recent examinations and assessments are being marked and graded, reports are being written and final course objectives are being attended to. The Riverview pulse is beating strongly, and it will continue to do so until the final minute of the final lesson.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine