When Madeleine Sophie Barat founded the Society, she said “I would have founded the Society for the sake of one child.” And that child, that staff member, that parent, or should I say the thousands of staff, students and parents, who have entered our open gates for over 140 years, can still hear that call of welcome, of belonging, of being seen in the likeness and image of God.
Madeleine Sophie Barat sought to create schools where our young people would be known, understood and treated with much love. For there is no greater gift to any young person than to provide a safe space for them to grow and learn and become the very best version of themselves.
As we reflect on our 140 year history on this site, I wonder how effectively we provide a contemporary Sacred Heart Education? How well have we have taken the messages of our Wisdom Women and adapted these to reflect our times? How has our educational offering changed to meet the needs of an ever-changing world?
When we explore Janet Erskine Stuart’s call to action in the 1800s, she said; “Education must be concerned not only with studies, but also with whatever may be required for the right ordering of life and requirements of cultivated society.” I believe Kincoppal-Rose Bay has done much to make it proud.
When we consider what might constitute the right ordering of life in 2022, the care of the planet and the environment comes to mind, as well as the sustainability of the earth and our global resources. Our building programs and design of the Junior School Masterplan redevelopment all capture environmentally friendly features. Education for students interested in this design, building and architecture is being provided through our building company, Buildcorp. Our youngest learners in the Early Learning Centre are taught about issues facing the environment and they are great advocates for caring for our land, particularly the area surrounding the harbour where they spend time during their “Wild Time.”
Following the call to action stirred by Chanel Contos in 2021, students, parents and staff have worked hard to build forums to discuss consent education and develop a path forward to build positive relationships with our young people.
I commend the work of our Year 12 student leaders who actioned a forum with 13 different schools to share stories and learn from each other to help build a better world.
The other focus in 2022 is to cultivate great global connections across our International Sacred Heart family and I am delighted to see the Virtual Collaboration Programs, the student exchanges and the opportunities for other collaborative learning being developed into the future.
This work will enable our young people to navigate more ably the cultural diversity within our world. They will graduate with a greater appreciation of other cultures and an ability to shape their global world.
Finally, when I reflect on the final Janet Erskine Stuart quote, “A bird does not sing because it has a voice, it sings because it has a song”, I am thrilled to reflect upon the growth of student voice, agency and leadership.
Sophie sought our young people to have great courage and confidence and to speak with great conviction. She had hoped a Sacred Heart education would provide the platform from which people could shape their world.
When we met with our Sister Schools at the Sacred Heart Conference in August, we were delighted to welcome student voice to the conference. Their voice, intellect, curiosity and their confidence will remain with me as a moment where I felt so proud to be leading a Sacred Heart School.
So, as I reflect on our 140th year within our rich history, I am more convinced than ever that we are providing our young people with a contemporary Sacred Heart education. Our Cor Unum values will never change but their expression, lived out through our five Sacred Heart goals, will ensure that our education is one that challenges the mind and infuses the heart of all who enter our Open Gates.
Our ambassadors, our Children of the Sacred Heart, will continue to charge themselves with the responsibility to contribute to the world and live the best version of their lives. For this we must be proud.
And as I write my final edition of this Open Gate, I take this opportunity to thank a number of people.
I thank the alumnae who have warmly welcomed me and shared their rich story telling with me. Their collective story telling and connection to our School makes our story so much richer.
I thank the parents, past and present, who entrust their children to our care. I have welcomed the opportunity to forge a genuine partnership with you and I thank you for your support. To the boarding families who really struggled through the drought, but still had faith in us and our support, I thank you. To all parents, I thank you for your unwavering support as we navigated through the global pandemic. These were not easy times, but together, we rode the wave.
I thank the staff with whom I have had the pleasure of working. I have always truly valued the teaching profession which really is a vocation. I remember the feeling of being drawn to it and that call to serve others has never left me. I saw in you something else, something quite special that often moved me when we were teaching and leading together through Covid. Thank you for your unconditional commitment to your students and your commitment to Kincoppal-Rose Bay.
To the Leadership Team, I owe my heartfelt thanks. We could never have predicted the range of issues that we would need to navigate and lead through over the five years, but we certainly learnt a great deal from each other. I cannot thank you enough for your commitment to providing the safest workplace available during Covid, your concern for staff and student wellbeing, your desire to provide the best opportunities possible to fulfill our Strategic goals and your support of me.
To the students, I commend you on your incredible resilience. You have endured so much change over the past three years and you simply kept going. You have always been at the centre of our decision making and your pride in being a student at KRB keeps us focussed on making the community the best it can be. I wish you all the best for the future and hope you will become proud members of the Sacré Coeur Association.
To the Board, under the outstanding leadership of Dr Mark Sinclair, I owe my great thanks. Mark has been an exemplary custodian of Kincoppal-Rose Bay during his term of leadership. He has cared for and responded to parents’ suffering through the drought; he helped keep the community safe through Covid and he has worked with his fellow Directors to help author the next exciting chapter of KRB’s story.
As a Board, all Directors can look back with great pride as they consider the range of issues and decisions made, that enabled us to lead though the pandemic in the way in which we did. It took countless hours of your collective time, your wisdom, your foresight, your optimism and your resilience. Your leadership will always be remembered so fondly by me and the community at large. Thank you for your unwavering faith in me to lead the School.
I owe my great respect and gratitude to all Directors of Sophia Education Ministries. It was a special time to walk beside you as you commenced your very significant journey. We are all grateful for your tireless commitment to seeing each of our schools thrive for the benefit of each child in our care.
Finally, I owe my greatest thanks to the rscj with whom I have had the incredible pleasure of working beside. It has been a privilege to lead two Sacred Heart Schools in this Province and to work side by side with you in this incredible ministry. Sacred Heart Education has changed my life and me as a person and leader and I know it will be the same for each person who has the privilege of walking through our open gates.
In Corde Jesu,