Definition: beyond what is usual, ordinary or regular, exceptional in character, amount, extent, and degree; noteworthy; remarkable.
We desire to see students who have no desire to settle for normal but are spurred on by an intrinsic motivation to push the limits, remove boundaries and reach for the stars. We aim to establish learning experiences that draw on the unlimited potential in every student to do extraordinary things. As a team of educators we build this culture by following three key practices:
- Inspiring Stories: lots can be communicated through story. One of the key methods to establish an extraordinary culture is consistently telling stories of people/situations that have defied the normal status and overcome the label of mediocrity. Our staff constantly draw of their own stories, examples from the Bible, biographies and more.
- Crash the Box: in order for students to venture towards being extraordinary, as educators we have to see them according to the potential and not their personal history. This means learning to truly see them (qualities, unique character, victories etc.) and not jump to a pre-conceived identity statement based on their previous bad behavior. This is probably the hardest as without this, they get stuck in the box of yesterday’s mistakes and fail to venture out of our walled opinion of them.
- Solution Builders: encouraging the use of imagination to discover and test out new solutions to problems they face. Helping them develop the muscle of resilience in every setback they face, as this is the key to journeying towards their extraordinary.
Definition: believing, possessing unreasonable hope in the goodness of God and His ability to accomplish what He promised
As a Christian school we seek to help each student to develop their own personal relationship with God and build their own understanding of who God is, who they are and their role here on this earth. We aim to answer some of the big questions of life from a Biblical worldview, ensuring our approach is relevant, fun and respectful. To create this culture, we focus on the following two key practices:
- Daily Discipleship Programme: these times are aimed at teaching kids about God’s ways and leading them into a practical application of what they have learnt.
- Weekly Faith-based Messages in assemblies: awakening curiosity and leading students on a discovery of the principles of God is a key priority in our weekly assemblies. Here staff and guest speakers use a variety of creative modes to communicate with students hearts and encourage them to see from a healthy perspective. These times are revelational and inspirational!
Definition: a relational unit consisting of healthy authority, boundaries and honour that allow every person to belong, feel accepted and discover their identity and purpose.
We all know that the healthiest organization that ever existed is the family (when working well!). We aim to replicate this nurturing, relational framework in the way we organize our classrooms and timetables. Time is given for students to interact across the ages, with coaching provided when students encounter relational issues. To sustain this culture, we focus on the following key practices:
- Leadership Programme: here our senior students are allocated a group of younger students to mentor and meet with periodically. They are also involved in daily leadership responsibilities and portfolios to grow their leadership ability and encourage contribution. Leadership skills are taught and reported on during the various life skills programmes run throughout the year with a leadership day being the high point of this programme each year. During this day students get the opportunity to interview and learn from a key leader (business, government, medical etc.) in our community. They are also coached by leadership experts and involved in various workshops to hone lifelong leadership skills.
- Family fun days/events: each quarter there are various events designed to encourage participation from parents/families, where students get to engage with their families on a deeper level. These events are designed to build key connections within families and foster open communication. We believe that parents are the most significant contributors to child development and so we do a lot to equip, engage and envision our parents. After all, when they thrive, we thrive!
Definition: having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable
One doesn’t have to look too far to realize the uniqueness of every individual. Unique appearances, character traits, likes and dislikes, talents and aspirations all work together to make our world the colourful place it is. It is often these attributes that get hidden in the classroom as we try to deal with group dynamics. To ensure that this value remains a key part of our culture, we do the following:
- Limit class sizes: our classes are smaller than the average school to allow space for individual teaching and one-on-one attention. We are also able to take in one special-needs student per class as part of our inclusion policy, and we have seen the most amazing results as students learn various skills to help students with barriers.
- Learning styles integration in classroom: partnering with an organization that specializes in carrying out learning style assessments, workshops and parent evenings to empower students to learn in their optimal learning style. One of the benefits of this is that parents, teachers and students receive comprehensive strategies for each child. This enables the learners to know and operate in their optimal learning style; it assists the teacher with how to best approach introducing concepts and it enables the parent assist with homework/studying in a way that ensures learning is taking place. Students love the freedom of knowing how they learn and are encouraged to use the skills and strategies they are taught.
- Hobbies: weekly participation is a wide array of hobbies aimed at helping students discover and nurture their talents. These include chess, environmental club, innovation club, design, drama, home economics, board games, co-ordination development, volleyball and more!
Definition: selfless, unconditional brotherly affection that considers others better than oneself
When looking at the behavior of children, most destructive behaviour can be traced back to their basic need for connection not being met in a healthy manner. With the increase of single parent households, demanding schedules, and breakdown of family values, we are witnessing an increased number of students arrive each day at school with their emotional tanks empty. This contributes to a lack of motivation, demanding behavior, poor self-esteem and the list goes on. The only way we can rectify this trend is to create an environment that promotes connection and communicates love. We do this by:
- Speaking life: you will hear this phrase echo down the school corridors as our teachers lead the charge every day to encourage students publically, remind them of how valuable they are through notes, honour slips, merits and rewards, practice calling out the gold in each child throughout the day and using day-to-day moments to communicate ‘I see you, and you are good enough’. Of course this sometimes ends in a hug and that is OK.
- Encouragement sessions: here we pair up kids and get them to think of one thing they absolutely love about the other person. This may be verbal, in picture or using another creative means to communicate love and care. Students’ response during this time is always positive, especially when done consistently.
Definition: readiness or liberality in giving, readily available to receive and release God’s abundance, freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character, largeness or fullness.
In a very self-centred culture, we are constantly bombarded with the message that life is all about me. Our language, actions and attitudes all point towards self-indulgence and so there is very little space left in our lives for placing others needs above our own. We have an obligation to offer our children a different message, by sharing in experiences with them that communicate the need to value others. This goes beyond placing our last few twenty cent pieces in the collection tins strategically located at the local supermarket. It takes an intentional effort and a system that rewards acts of service/contribution:
- Community Outreach: each class is involved in a termly outreach project where students are involved in planning how they are going to reach those in our community that are less-privileged, vulnerable and/or lonely. These outreaches are so important in teaching students the importance of looking beyond their own needs, and to shift the focus from me to others. We have seen the importance of students actively participating in these trips rather than merely sending a donation or taking up a collection as the personal experience lives on in their hearts long after.
- Dream Builders: each year we run our ‘Dream Builders Campaign’, to give students the opportunity to experience the joy of making someone else’s dream come true. They get to pick a person in their sphere of influence that is going through challenging circumstances, and with the help of adults get to decide on ways to make their dreams come true. Students are involved in setting up sponsorships, planning what to do and how to do it and responsible for surprising their ‘dream target’ with a day they will never forget. This day usually involves a lot of tears as students engage with the raw emotion of reaching out to others.
- Rewards system: to communicate the value of generosity a large part of our school reward system is focused on rewarding good character and citizenship as a greater priority than just talent or achievement. What you honour you get, and so in this way we get a whole lot of our students setting goals to enhance their lives and reach out to others rather than competing for position and prestige.
Definition: possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good.
- Staff Appraisal twice per year: Excellence is not taught but rather caught. Our staff are the key champions of this culture and so we spend a lot of time empowering them in various staff development seminars and our monthly ‘think tank’ meetings. The entire staff (from Interns and Support Staff through to Senior Management) are involved in an appraisal process aimed at both self and peer evaluation to ensure excellence is enhanced.
- Student Development Reports: these semester reports are designed to give students feedback in all five developmental areas, and suggest strategies for growth.