Knowing Our Why - Welcome to Woodleigh 2023

Welcome back! What a holiday we've had.

It has been great to welcome our community back to school, and in particular, to welcome new students and parents at the start of the year. It has been an incredibly positive start to the school year, and I am grateful to the efforts of our staff, our students, and our families for working tirelessly to bring together a great beginning.

As is always the case at the start of a new school year, I am often asked, 'how was your holiday?' In previous years, I might have given the obligatory 'OK' answer. However, this year has been different. I have quite unapologetically answered, "the best holiday ever."

Why was my holiday so great? Well, I had an amazing holiday, which began on our last working day of 2022, catching the evening ferry to have Christmas in Tasmania with family, surfing every day, and enjoying everything the great island state has to offer. After New Year's, I travelled to Japan with my daughters to enjoy two weeks of powder skiing in Hokkaido; a difficult place to get to, but well worth it.

While both of these on their own are trips of a lifetime - full of adventure and in some cases, risk - it was the journey with my daughters that was the highlight for me. For three weeks, we surfed, skied on beautiful snow, enjoying amazing Japanese cuisine; yet for me it was the time we spent together that was most valuable. To be honest, we could have been camping down at Wilson's Prom and my holidays would have still been amazing. Precious time with my adult daughters and my wife was regenerative for me personally, giving me the mental break I needed to come back to school refreshed and excited about the year ahead.

It wouldn't be a trip to a far-off place without running into several Woodleigh students and their families, enjoying the snow of Japan or the clean waves of Tasmania. True to our culture, they are always happy to see me and show interest in why I am where I am and what I am doing.

This is my fourth year at Woodleigh, yet the first start I have had where our planning and communications haven't been dominated by COVID rules and instructions. Instead, we have been able to meet as a leadership group and with staff to clarify our purpose and our direction for this year. What is it we hope to achieve and how will we lead the change that we aspire for?

We have some incredibly exciting projects beginning this year, and we can't wait to share with families what's in store for their young people. But before we talk about these projects, we need to come back to the why.

"What is it we are hoping to achieve? And why?"

To understand this, I have been reflecting on my purpose in this world. I try my best to respect the environment and to act sustainably in the way I live my life. However, the impact of my individual actions will be nothing compared to the opportunity I have to lead this school, and the impact that will have on each of our students. Our impact in developing a better future will have much greater efficacy if we work together to achieve things collectively.

"​A Woodleigh education is not only about what we learn academically, but how we develop and grow as human beings during the learning process."

As teachers we have an amazing opportunity to work with parents to purposefully help our students to develop character, compassion, resilience, creativity, and skillfulness, to enable them to thrive in a complex and ever-changing world. At school, we are preparing our students for life beyond school. This must be at the heart of everything we do. This is our purpose.

For me, this comes back to our responsibility to prepare our students for their futures, creating in them the skills to become the leaders of the future who will help to guide our country and the world to a better place; a place where the environment is worshipped, and we do everything we can to act not only sustainably, but regeneratively. That is how we can add value to the environment and society in general.

We also have the desire to create a world that is equitable and respectful, and values each person for who they are. We want to encourage them to develop their own voice to have a say, not only in their own futures but all of our futures.

These are ambitious goals, which will require a lot of work and a great amount of commitment and dedication. After a great summer, it is now time to roll up our sleeves, get on with the work at hand and strive to do our best in everything we do. I will be doing that with the leadership team, our teachers, and all Woodleigh staff.

I wish every member of the Woodleigh community a wonderful and successful 2023, a year of great optimism and hope.