From within a care-mongering community

Coeducation is education for life. Naturally

Esther Hill: Director of Djoowak: The Beyond Boundaries Institute; Dean of Teaching and Learning at All Saints’ College.

“And he knew, also, what the old man was thinking as his tears flowed, and he, Rieux, thought it too: that a loveless world is a dead world, and always there comes an hour when one is weary of prisons, of one’s work, and of devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart.”

― Albert Camus

To say that this has been a strange week in the life of a school is an understatement. In my more than 20 years of teaching and leading in schools, this past week has been the most stressful, unpredictable and yet, at every turn, heart-warming , inspiring and affirming.

Our Year 12 students led the way- with the pinnacle of their social calendar, the School Ball, cancelled; the College Production that had been in rehearsal for months, set already built, costumes made, cancelled; final Swimming Carnival, for which 6am training had been attended since the start of the year, cancelled.. without complaint or fuss, accepted these blows and finished the week building a gratitude wall in their Common Room, celebrating and giving thanks for all of those things for which they are most grateful. And later in the week, the gratitude wall appears in other places in the school- the library and the Junior School- gratitude is everywhere.

Mid-week, a Zoom meeting with 25 school leaders from across the country, sharing resources, discussing the platforms for home-learning, sharing the grief and worry for the most vulnerable of our students for whom school is a sanctuary. Amidst the worry and uncertainty, collegiality, support and looking for opportunities dominated the discussion- focussed on the wellbeing of both staff and students- making the best of a dire situation and looking for the opportunity to transform learning and empower students.

A meeting with a group of students who have set up their own website, committed to supporting each other through their studies, offering support to the teachers and leaders in the school by developing their own resources to assist students and teachers, setting up shared learning spaces and an online tutoring service for younger students who might need support working from home.

Teachers, worried for their own families and their own wellbeing in these troubled times are checking in on each other, sending care packages to their colleagues who are self-isolating and bringing forward Easter buns so that, if our community can’t be together on that day, we have an opportunity to share that special moment.

And at the end of the week, music rang out across the campus, through the loud-speaker system- usually reserved for emergency messages…

In a care-mongering community we work together to find the best possible ways forward.. we share the worry and the hurt. We choose joy and a good laugh where we can and we see the opportunities that are created for greater connection, greater joy, greater community……