I was accosted at the school gate the other morning by a Primary School student keen to thrash out why we are having such a big focus on our Carmel School values. He knew what our five values were (connectedness, curiosity, courage, excellence and integrity) but he let me know in no uncertain terms that he didn’t see why discussing them was necessary. Was it perhaps because I was concerned about our enrolments?

I thought his question was great – it showed courage (accosting the Principal in public before 8 am), curiosity (not just accepting something, but wanting to ask questions and genuinely understand it) as well as integrity in the way he was respectfully investigating what he wanted to know. I was able to commend him on his questioning, assure him that enrolments were indeed heading in the right direction and reassure him that all schools and indeed most organisations have values, for very good reasons. We had a lengthy discussion about the need for everybody to be aligned to what they see as important, and therefore the importance of values in keeping us all focused and working in the same direction. I was so grateful to his teachers for creating this interest and for supporting our quest to ensure that our school values are widely discussed and understood. It was a fabulous start to the day.

Another highlight of my week 3 was facilitating the first session of our Teacher Leadership Program on Thursday night after school. Although I had to apologise for not having been sufficiently imaginative to come up with a better title (creating trendy names for such things is not my forte) it was brilliant to work with 17 teachers who had signed up for this optional professional learning opportunity - a great reflection of Carmel teachers’ levels of expertise and interest in leadership. Also pleasing was the range of teachers involved – from across the learning areas, from Primary School to High School, from relatively new colleagues to experienced practitioners. Our first session focused on leading teaching and learning and enthusiastic and energetic discussions were evident throughout. I thank the staff members who participated and look forward to our next session, which will focus on leading wellbeing and pastoral care.

This weekend brings a large number of visitors and speakers to our campus, for the important annual Religious Zionist Organisation conference. We are looking forward to providing the usual Carmel welcome and to learning with and from them. Thank you to the large number of people involved in planning and facilitating this conference.

Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris