From the Principal: 24 February 2020

From the Principal: 24 February 2020

A very warm welcome to the 2020 academic year! The Year of the Metal Rat brings strength, imagination and loyalty. Our first few weeks have been happy and busy ones, and at our first assemblies at Morris Hall and Merton Hall we welcomed our new students and celebrated being together. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting many new and current families and students at the gate in the mornings and afternoons. Schools are positive places and it has been a lively and joyous start.

On our first day with all staff, we focused on our new Strategic Plan and our personal and collective strengths to drive this visioning. Our Strategic Plan is designed with the 2040 graduate in mind. With the student at the centre, the four elements – culture, learning, environment and community – provide the necessary ecosystem to nurture and support. When we overlay our MGGS values of compassion, courage, self-discipline and integrity on these elements, we have a very simple yet fulsome road map. While acknowledging the importance of the wellbeing of the learner, it is our global and future focused perspective that creates the environment for innovation. Collectively, the elements provide the strategic direction for Melbourne Girls Grammar for 2020-2025. Click here to read the Melbourne Girls Grammar Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

Our year has started with some devastating events. First and foremost, the bushfires throughout Australia followed closely by the global health emergency of the novel coronavirus. We love our country, and as a community we have been saddened at the recent destruction and loss of life caused by the bushfires throughout Australia. Our beautiful land has suffered terribly, and the effect has been widespread. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those touched by the fires. This has been a huge impact on us as a nation and for all those who have lost family, friends and homes we are thinking of you. Our firefighters and front-line services have shown true courage in their defense of our environment. Our wildlife, grasslands and forests have all taken a severe toll. MGGS is highly connected throughout many of the areas impacted and we respectfully stand with all communities to support the healing after such horrendous trauma. I have received many well wishes from our extended national and international network.

At Morris Hall, we have been working on appropriate ways that our girls can take action and give them a sense of purpose in response to the recent bushfires. I encourage you to support the ELC – Year 4 Art Auction on the afternoon of 18 March 2020 to raise funds to donate to Zoos Victoria to support their work on the frontline rescuing and rehabilitating animals impacted by the fires. The Student Executive Council are also in discussion on how we can best support Save the Children’s Bushfire Emergency Appeal, starting with the selling of pancakes tomorrow. We know that empowering our Grammarians to take action is one of the best ways we can support them to understand their world. 

Our year started well before the academic year with the co-curricular season starting strong with the two significant camps. Although Gippsland was out because of the bushfires, the Rowing Camp went ahead in South Yarra with the support of the MHRC under the leadership of our Head of Rowing, Mr Angus Seller.

On Monday 13 January I had the great honour of christening our new boat for the 1st VIII, ‘The Merton’. Our old ‘Merton’ was christened the ‘Annabelle Eaton’ and Annabelle was present to perform the honour of christening also. Although, Annabelle’s swing of the champagne was far more elegant than mine! Annabelle has had a long association with Merton Hall and was integral in setting a standard that brought two Heads of School Girls and three National Championships to MGGS. In many ways, Annabelle laid the foundation for our current program and current competitive position. We are grateful for Annabelle’s fine contribution and legacy and we wish the crew who row in the ‘Annabelle Eaton’ an excellent season. I believe the highlight of the rowing camp was the food, lovingly prepared by the parents, with exceptional catering led by Jane Rose. Thank you to all who supported the success of this camp!

51 students, from Year 7 to 12 attended the Swimming, Athletics and Water Polo Camp at The Sports Hub, Kawana Waters on the Sunshine Coast in January. In the words of our Director of Artemis, Ms Sally Bailey, who attended it was:

Train, eat, sleep, team bonding, repeat. All elements well balanced and managed by a coaching team who worked together with unconditional care and enthusiasm to ensure every student gained positive experiences in their development, skills, physical capacities and mindset. Over the course of the week, we all witnessed numerous uplifting and heart-warming developments in the girls, and we hope to see these gains carry into their school year.’

Thank you to the staff who give so generously of their time, to enable co-curricular events to happen. And not to be forgotten, our rehearsals for our 2020 musical ChicagoHigh School Edition have begun with earnest and I am sure this production will be a highlight of the year.

Our Year 12 Conference at the NAB building on Friday 31 January was a day of energy, setting the focus and intentions for the year and reconnecting with peers. The final year of school is the culmination of 13 years of formal education for our Year 12 Grammarians. On this day I spoke to our Year 12s about ‘walking tall’ and developing a presence. If they are to leave MGGS being ethical women of action and to be influencers in their chosen careers, then they need to be comfortable in their own skin and to be someone that others want to listen to.

With the promotion of Ms Nikki Kirkup to Deputy Principal of The Knox School in Wantirna, we advertised for and interviewed possible candidates for our Director of Senior School. I was very impressed with the high level and quality of the candidates who applied for this position. Our Senior Years Program is unique and attracted highly experienced and innovative educators. We have now completed a rigorous merit-based selection process and I am delighted to announce that our new Director of Senior School is Mr Luke Francis. Ms Katherine Barton will continue in the role of Acting Director of Senior School until Mr Francis commences at the start of Term 2, so that our senior students have full and seamless support. Luke’s bio can be found here.

Research tells us that the most important factor in the learning process is what the learner brings, teamed with the quality of the teacher. We are fortunate to have the very best teachers and our brilliant 2019 VCE results are testimony to that teamwork. Our teachers are here because of and for the students.

At our Merton Hall assembly, I spoke to our Grammarians about the importance of the honesty of being a learner and working with their teachers. I know that the teachers have been working hard to plan an exciting year of learning for our students.

I am pleased to welcome the following new staff to MGGS in 2020:

  • Mr Anthony Bruhn, Head of Sport and Coaching
  • Mr Robin Dunn, Head of Mathematics
  • Ms Tara Quenault, Head of Science
  • Ms Tara Ambrosio, Teacher of English & English Language
  • Ms Julia Collins, Teacher of English & English Language
  • Ms Julie Howard, Teacher of English & EAL
  • Mr Tom Hull, Teacher of Philosophy
  • Dr Alessandro Micciche, Teacher of Latin
  • Ms Olivia Wilson, Teacher of Drama
  • Ms Kate O’Keeffe, Teacher of Drama and Dance
  • Ms Bei Jiang, Teacher of Mathematics
  • Ms Mengliu Ding, Teacher of General Science
  • Ms Tejaswini Dhavale, Teacher of Science
  • Ms Jasmine Shih, Teacher of Physics
  • Ms Noémie Langlois, Teacher of French
  • Ms Rachael Hooper, Art Technician
  • Ms Dimity Harris, Acting Assistant Director of Boarding
  • Ms Lauren Amalfi, Wellbeing Coach
  • Ms Samantha McCook, Teacher of Junior Years
  • Ms Amy Bickford, Teacher of Junior Years
  • Ms Jenny Quiroga, Learning Assistant – Prep
  • Miss Ellie Arthurson, Integration Aide – JY

Our Morris Hall Welcome Breakfast on Tuesday 4 February was well attended and humming with parents and students catching up. I was delighted to observe the students welcoming new Grammarians and seeing their teachers for the first time this year. The enthusiasm and optimism of the Morris Hall students is wonderful. My visit to the Year 4 class on 13 February with a focus on leadership was a high point of the week – leadership certainly starts early at MGGS!

The Boarders’ Welcome Barbeque was a happy and relaxed evening on Friday 31 January. This event allowed opportunities for our Boarding families to get to know each other. One of the great benefits of Boarding at Melbourne Girls Grammar is the special bond that the girls develop and the quality of the relationships between the students, their families and the School. Thank you to our Director of Boarding, Ms Amanda Haggie and her team for a fantastic event!

Bravo to Hensley House for winning triumphantly at the 2020 Swimming Sports! Congratulations to each of the House Captains who were impressive in the leadership of their Houses and led the chants brilliantly. The 2020 House Captains include Bridget, Katherine (Batman), Charlotte, Serena (Clarke), Olivia, Beatrix (Hensley), Rosie, Charli (Mungo), Grace and Emily (Taylor). Thank you to the parents and guardians who came along to support and to our amazing Artemis Team for leading this annual highlight of the calendar.

Our Whole School Cocktail Party in the summer garden was a great success. It was a record number of attendees on a beautiful Melbourne evening with happy conversations, welcoming new parents and reconnecting current parents, School Councillors and staff after the summer break. We purposefully placed the event in the garden to give focus on our school being at the centre of Melbourne – we are indeed fortunate to have as our neighbours the Royal Botanic Gardens and such a culturally rich footprint that holds stories from our indigenous peoples, promotes the arts, honours the legacy of our soldiers and provides activities for our students along the banks of the Yarra. The garden also highlighted the importance of sustainable practices – and the legacy that this provides for our future generations, while recognising the fragility of our landscape – the recent bush fires giving us pause to reflect on how as humans we interact with our environment and how we need to treat it with respect.

Thank you to the parents and guardians who have volunteered as Parent Representatives, Auxiliary Committee members, Parents Association members or who are supporting the School in diverse and varied ways for 2020. These volunteering roles are vital in the running of a high performing school and are often the glue that brings our community together.

Many of our students use public transport to get to and from school each day and travel on a concession card. Please remind your daughters that as part of this concession, they respectfully stand for the elderly, disabled and pregnant passengers. Additionally, it is important to discuss safety travelling to and from school and the importance of being alert and how to seek assistance if a situation arises. Pedestrian safety is also paramount, so please remind your daughter to be alert on her walk to and from school. This is a good discussion to have at home around the dinner table!

In the spirit of safety, can I also remind parents to take extra care and adhere to the parking and road rules around Merton and Morris Hall. Our children are precious and at times can be invisible to cars and also lack the visual-spatial judgement when stepping from the kerb.

Until next Messenger, enjoy the last few weeks of summer and take time to appreciate the beautiful city in which we live.

Author

Dr Toni E. Meath, Principal