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12 Months On…

The September holidays mark the end of my first 12 months at Woodleigh. It's been quite the ride. I remember being asked at interview what I would like to achieve in my first year at the School... while I have met some of those goals, COVID has definitely limited those ambitions. Four school terms have been marked by four different lockdowns, four different remote learning periods and the constant challenge of manoeuvring a busy, jam-packed School calendar to provide the best program we can in the given circumstances. And even though I have yet to witness some of the 'rites of passage' which exist here at Woodleigh, I can honestly say that I have been very proud of what we have achieved as a community.

In the last year, I have been privileged to lead a School that continually thinks outside the square and engages students with hands-on, real-life learning opportunities. I have witnessed and been involved in Valedictory celebrations and a range of sporting events – our Swimming Carnival, Cross Country, and I even coached a junior netball team. During Homestead Camp week, I visited students in far-flung destinations, from the High Plains to Angelsea.

I was in the audience for the one and only production of Guinness World Records, where our Year 12 Drama students performed to a packed house, eager to return to the theatre. I have been part of transition events welcoming new students to Senior Campus and travelled to the CBD to see our Year 9s in action at Citybound. I have also joined our students to make sandwiches for Eat Up and seen our Year 8 students work with a multitude of external partners in our local community. These are just some of the opportunities Woodleigh provides for students – even as lockdowns seem to have dominated our lives during the last 18 months.

Alongside the service and co-curricular aspects of the School, I have been lucky enough to visit a number of virtual classrooms throughout the recent lockdown period.

Year 9 French students have been learning about movement verbs and using interactive tools to consolidate their knowledge of their language studies. They gave me a glimpse of the importance of remaining internationally-minded at a time when international travel is so limited. I was even encouraged to delve into a little French-speaking myself afterwards, drawing on what I learnt back at school. I also visited a Year 12 Physics class – inquiry plus! The 12s were embarking on scientific explorations around the concepts of gravity and inertia, discovering how force impacts the outcomes of these experiments. They were so open-minded and happy to have a rigorous conversation about their work.

I took a risk and joined a Year 7 Physical Education class working hard on small group dance routines. The passion and enthusiasm they brought to their learning and the level of collaboration was awesome! Particularly on a Zoom! I participated in the warm-up with the group, and I'm sure anyone passing by my office (which is right next to reception) would have been wondering, "Why is Nat doing the grapevine?" Or, "What's with the side-steps?"

The VCE Data Analytics class I joined intrigued me. This small group of students were dedicatedly preparing for an upcoming assessment. In the process of preparing for the SAC, their teacher had written a song to assist them with their recall of information. He'd written accompanying music and played it to the class during the session I visited. The dedication from our teachers, staff and students throughout this hugely challenging time has been so impressive. I am in awe of their ability to be innovative and so resilient – they are creative, take on challenges and present a fantastic example for our students.

The attributes I've seen in and out of classrooms are the qualities that will help our students become responsible members of our local, national and global communities. They are also a large part of why we decided to become an International Baccalaureate World School.

Today, I would like to share with you some of the outstanding work that is going on in the remote learning space. I hope you have a wonderful term break; stay safe and find time to be kind to you.

Take care,

NAT McLENNAN
Deputy Principal – Head of Senior Campus