A Letter to Parents – January 8, 2021

Mark Turner

Dear Parents and Guardians,

By the time that you read this we will have completed week one, the first step on our journey toward the Family Day long weekend. After a good holiday, staff and students have returned in a business-like manner to routine as usual.

This week, one of the highlights for me was our Senior Leadership Team meeting on Tuesday. At our meeting we reviewed the attendance statistics of day one, which were good, and conducted a review of last term based on the statistical analysis of the parent questionnaire sent out in December. There was some confidence boosting affirmation here and a more detailed analysis will be circulated next week. Although we try to sample opinions regularly, we welcome growth-minded feedback as we move into the future. As Marie Curie succinctly put it, “Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.”

We also identified some new key themes that will dictate our agenda over the next 12 months. The unanimous adoption of the Campus Master Plan by the Board of Governors at their December meeting will provide a whole raft of projects to research and prioritize. We are also making good progress with plans for the refurbishment of the Junior School. We will be aiming to accelerate this momentum as this year moves along. There will be the creation of a Board of Governors’ Sustainability Committee. Having chosen to base our Floreat strategic plan on four strategic priorities, one of which is sustainability, this new committee will be tasked with embedding the principles of sustainability in all areas of the school’s operations. We will also be challenging ourselves in how we can best educate our students to engage in nurturing, rather than exploiting our planet in the future.

We reviewed the work of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group (EDI), which has been energetic in its research. I am pleased to announce that next Friday’s SMUS Weekly will be focused on a statement from the Working Group, who will share observations and set out, in more detail, the roadmap for our journey through 2021.

Last week, I said that I would share some reflections on my Christmas reading list. I found that given the absence of parties and a significant reduction in socializing, I was able to spend more time than usual with my nose in a book. In support of a desire to better understand the DEI agenda, on recommendation I read Claude M. Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi, an interesting treatise on how stereotypes affect us and what we can do. On the recommendation of a faculty colleague, who is clearly passionate about the green agenda, I read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, which has generated interest in so many circles. Finally, in total contrast, I read a Christmas present, Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho! This novel, written in high Victorian style, with sentences as long as paragraphs, is based on our hometown of Bideford in the UK. It weaves themes based on the exploits of 16th-century sailors and their adventures on the high seas. Given this, it would probably be a candidate for cancellation from the reading lists of some modern schools! Nevertheless, it provides a fascinating historical insight and a perspective on the zeitgeist of the Victorian age.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to chuckle at some of the late Erma Bombeck’s most famous bon mots. One particularly seemed relevant in our current circumstance: “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

With best wishes,
Mark Turner

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