Dear St Mary’s DSG Community
The word “community” carries with it meaning which requires reminder and interrogation from time to time. As we move towards Advent and Christmas, reflect on the year passed and look to the year ahead, this is particularly pertinent.
This letter is addressed to all the learners, educators, parents, alumnae and friends of the school. Are they the St Mary’s DSG Community?
Community is much more than those who are associated with a geographic location or an institution. At its core a Community exists when people have relationships between each other based on the shared beliefs, values, purpose and customs of an institution. Without these elements which bind a community together we may speak rather of pseudo-community.
One does not become a member of true Community by teaching at the school, or by enrolling a child and thus joining the parent body. Rather, one becomes a member of the Community when one subscribes to the underlying core tenets, which one hopes are at least part of the reason why the School was chosen. At any one time it must be true that St Mary’s DSG is for some a Community and for others a pseudo community.
At the beginning of this year, after a year of dialogue, a new Vision and Mission was adopted by the School. Let me remind you:
Built on the Christian (Anglican) faith, shared values, holistic excellence and deep tradition, St Mary’s DSG aims to empower confident yet humble young women of integrity and character to serve our nation and the world.
- To be a Community where care, compassion and service abound, internally and externally.
- To search for academic excellence through hard work, critical thinking, creativity and innovation.
- To offer a wide variety of opportunities in sport and culture, deliberately exposing learners to life and leadership.
- To use Information Technology effectively to enhance learning and prepare learners for an unknown future.
- To provide a home of beauty, safety and vibrancy for all.
- To exercise exemplary environmental responsibility.
- To be known for the expertise and confidence of our alumnae.
If these things resonate with you, then we are “in Community.” If they do not, then we are not yet in true Community.
So to whom then is this letter addressed?
It is addressed to those who are already “in Community”, and to those who we wish to call into community with us. The St Mary’s DSG Community is therefore aspirant and exists at the same time.
Once “ in Community” it becomes incumbent on members to work for the best of the Community both by strengthening it to adhere more closely to the basics, but importantly by also shaping it to become more than it is today. Communities that remain static simply die. Communities must develop and change as the environment changes, but remain a home where known comforts abound.
We have spent this year continually ensuring that the direction of the school is underpinned by the Vision and Mission and we will continue to do so in 2018.
In particular we wish to ensure that the School is a place of belonging where to the best of our ability all families feel welcome and at home, safe and acknowledged. A colleague pointed out to me the other day, that in a world of collapsing community, as we close in on ourselves out of anxiety and fear, and literally and figuratively build walls between ourselves and our neighbours, Schools remain a place of potential true Community, where the triple human necessities of belonging, purpose and hope can be found.
My theme for 2018 will therefore be:
Discovering each other in true Community and experiencing St Mary’s DSG as a place of belonging.
I look forward to walking the year ahead with you all.
I wish the entire Community a wonderful holiday, with safe travels.
May the Child of Bethlehem bless you hearts and homes with Love, Joy and Peace.