A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 6 - 2022

At the moment, it would seem everywhere we turn we are confronted by images and adverts of politicians seeking election or re-election in the looming federal election. Vast sums of money are being poured into efforts to influence voter opinion and promises are being made that seem to us to have little chance of being fulfilled. Our streets are lined with the placards of those who seek to represent us. We all hope that their motivation to be elected is based on the altruistic desire to serve their constituents, rather than their chosen party manifesto.

However, when it comes to elections and the media surrounding them, we do wonder how aware politicians and their advisors are of the effect they are having on those they are striving to influence? So many seem blithely unaware of their capacity to effect change, and even less aware of how to lead their constituents in effecting change.

As educators, we must all be aware of our impact. We must constantly pay heed to the effect we have on the students we teach and with whom we grow too. The effect of a great teacher can be incredible and a significantly positive influence to shape the lives of the students in their care. A teacher who doesn’t see the gravitas in their role, grow and learn can be the complete opposite. They can have a lasting negative impact. Obviously, at Westminster, we strive for this impact to be positive and help all the students at our School achieve more than they thought possible. Our teachers are all strongly encouraged to know their impact and effect.

All of us have the capacity to effect change. Our ability to effect lasting change rests in successfully recognising where to start and creating congruence around the effect we want to have. If our students, for example, want to effect change about global warming they can all easily cut down on food waste. One-third of all food produced is wasted and the production of this food is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and therefore global warming. Likewise, they can stop consuming overpackaged food. If they want to help with reducing environmental pollution, they can stop creating it by perhaps catching the train or riding a bike to School or not placing readily recyclable rubbish in general waste.

As their effect is reinforced, they may become braver and influence others to change, building critical mass. All of this is effective action caused by them knowing their impact. Their efforts are directed and purposeful, and they will achieve change. Perhaps from little things, big things will grow (thank you Paul Kelly).

As a community, we have the responsibility to try and improve the society we live in. We have to be brave to do this and we must be aware of our influence and the change we can effect. As our Council and staff make decisions around improving our School, we are well aware of the effect we can have. The two new buildings we opened last week, namely the Forder Centre and Year 12 Centre, have through observation and feedback already had a marked effect on our community in a hugely positive manner. As we did for the Inquiry and Innovation Hub, we are preparing to offer parent and caregiver tours of our new facilities. In the weeks ahead when you come to tour, I hope that you can also feel the effect of our campus improvements in the same way our students have.

Simon Shepherd