It has been a privilege to stand at the gate and welcome our children back to school. The Mazkirut (senior student leadership team) and I were delighted to high-five everyone as they returned with smiling faces, suntans and sparkling clean uniforms.
The College is radiant with the optimism of the new year. The creche building is taking shape, the ELC has a range of new toilets, the Year 10/Art and Technology Building has been beautifully recarpeted and the VCE centre has been redesigned to facilitate smart working in public spaces. The Jewish New Year for Trees, Tu B’Shvat, just over two weeks ago, was a great way to welcome our new groundsman Peter to his first Jewish festival, as he goes about beautifying our campus.
With parent information evenings, student leadership induction, our Kabbalat Shabbat for new families, the ELC new families morning and the rehearsals for our musical, Seussical, it has been a predictably fulfilling first week back at Bialik.
This year we prepare for our biennial Cultures of Thinking Conference, when hundreds of educators from around the world come to experience a little bit of Bialik magic and develop their teaching in innovative ways. The Cultures of Thinking research, led by University of Harvard investigators and with Bialik as its research base, is now in hundreds of schools worldwide, and we are grateful to the Dorevitch family for supporting this ‘open source’ development of the global educational landscape. At this year’s conference we welcome three exciting keynotes: Dr Edward Clapp from the University of Harvard, Tiziana Filippini from Reggio Emilia in Italy, and Professor Elanor Huntington from the Australian Catholic University.
As we continue our ongoing work with Edward Clapp, our teachers are developing their deep understanding of Edward’s research focuses, participatory creativity and maker-centred learning. It is a wonderful opportunity for our students to benefit from the very latest in educational research being put into place here at Bialik College, in their classrooms.
In the spirit of inclusion I like to take the opportunity at the beginning of the year to remind families that when parties and bnei mitzvah are planned – just as we are inclusive with children who have allergies – it is also menschlich (decent and courteous) to be mindful of children who are kosher. Many Bialik families eat meat only from kosher animals (such as chicken or beef) whilst many require the meat itself to be certified as kosher (such meat will have been ritually slaughtered and prepared). As a school we have an ethos in which our families make different but informed choices about their practice, and we respect all of these choices – and it is always appreciated when consideration is given to children of varying dietary needs in whatever form they take.
In the meantime, it has been a delight to welcome 98 new children to the Bialik family this year. I know that all of our community will embrace our new members with menschlichkeit and inclusion. If you see someone in the playground or at the gate looking a bit lost, then a friendly ‘Shalom’ or ‘g’day’, and offer of help, warms the heart.
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