Letter Home – Week 8

Dear Parents, I write this Letter Home extremely mindful of the present situation with the COVID-19 virus that is affecting us all at home and across the world. These are extraordinary times with the situation evolving and changing daily. By the time you receive this Letter Home, circumstances will have changed again. I do trust the information you have received from the school throughout this period has kept you up to date and informed. Importantly, we are following expert advice while prioritising the health and safety of our school community.

Cultural Diversity Week – Curiosity, Conversation, Community!

As you are aware, plans for the concluding weeks of the term have changed dramatically. We were expecting to involve the Wugularr children this week in celebration of Cultural Diversity Week. Understandably, the trip was cancelled. News from the community is that they are all well. They are enjoying the addition of some new teachers who have joined their team this year.

Prior to the impact of the COVID-19, Andy Khoza worked at Wugularr School, Beswick, to prepare the Wugubank program with staff and work with the students for various activities that were to take place. The children were delighted to learn African drumming from Valanga and incorporate this focus into their Investigations and classwork.

Although there was much disappointment to hear that the Wugubank trip had been postponed, we have assured the children there will be a time later in the year when we can come together at Penbank. It is the highlight of their year. 

‘Curiosity, Conversation, Community,’ is the theme for this year’s Cultural Diversity Week. Perhaps you can be thinking about the conversations you can have as a family about how we live as a multi-cultural society? What is it that sparks your curiosity about culture and each other? Why is cultural diversity a positive thing? Who makes up our community? All most interesting concepts to explore.  

There are many websites with valuable information and ideas for celebrating Cultural Diversity. An excellent place to start is the Victorian Multicultural Commission (

Harmony Day, 21 March in Australia, is a feature of Cultural Diversity Week. We celebrate Harmony Day to promote diversity and acceptance of other cultures. Harmony Day aims to start conversations about heritage, culture and community. The event coincides with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Generally, the focus throughout the week promotes inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. We will look forward to sharing cultural stories and times with our special Wugularr friends later in the year. Our thoughts are with communities across the world – it is a time to pull together.

Work Experience for Woodleigh School Senior Campus Students

It was our pleasure to welcome four students from the Senior Campus to work with our students. Work Experience is about familiarising students with a possible profession or career and experience what it may feel like to be in a related workplace. Skills such as working in a team, communicating, and learning workplace skills and responsibilities are just a few of the competencies that were expected of these students. 

All four students spoke at School Meeting about their aspirations and why they had chosen to work at Penbank. It was most interesting to hear about their goals for the future.

We thank EmilyMilaniTessa and Lulu for working with us and wish them the very best of luck as they strive to complete their schooling and work towards a future career. 

Ciao Brenda!

On Saturday evening a gathering of former parents, staff, colleagues and friends celebrated with Brenda Karnowski on a magnificent 35 years of service to Penbank. Deciding last year to retire at the conclusion of her 35th year, everyone present enjoyed the opportunity to share special moments and reflect on the school’s accomplishments. Considering Penbank is now 46 years old, a 35 year contribution is seriously significant. When Brenda spoke with her guests, she reminded us of our motto that is embedded in our work. It is also a ceramic feature in the pavement of our front garden. 

This Penbank motto, With Care and Commitment, We Grow, has been foundational in Brenda’s approach to teaching and learning. Beginning at Penbank in 1984, Brenda has been committed to an integrated approach to teaching and learning, with excellent practices in literacy and numeracy enabling children at Penbank to thrive. Initiating curriculum change in many areas, Brenda skillfully worked with the Penbank team to ensure continuity and consistency of practice across all year levels. 

Recognising Brenda for her educational leadership, she moved into the Deputy Principal role at Penbank in 2011. A mentor and contributor to learning and wellbeing, Brenda continued to support the overall development and aspirations for Penbank, the school community and students. Achieving admirable success as a school, Brenda’s participation at a management and board level was also highly valued. Resounding decisions were made throughout this time – school name change, building developments, the purchase of land, and always at the forefront, the development of a comprehensive, progressive delivery of experiential education.

We thank Brenda sincerely for her extensive contribution to Penbank in which her expertise, especially in curriculum development, was greatly realised throughout her 35 years at Penbank.

And as she would say….. With Care and Commitment, We Grow

We heartfelt gratitude, we thank you, Brenda.

Looking Ahead

As we move towards the conclusion of Term 1 we are very mindful of these significant times of change and uncertainty. We are extremely committed to supporting all students in their education; our priorities are for the health and safety of our community, as well as the continuity of learning for our students.

My sincere thank you to all staff and parents for all your efforts, support and assistance in responding while also keeping learning in the school continuing as normally as possible.

On behalf of the Penbank team, I wish you a relaxing break throughout this challenging time and hope that you and your extended family and friends stay safe and well.

My warmest regards,

Deputy Principal – Head of Penbank Campus