Thursday, 6 September 2018

Term 3 Week 5 2018

It was delightful to see the very generous spirit of the St Mary’s Community come alive last Friday in our Fiver for a Farmer event. It raised a total of $2,340.00. Congratulations to all!  The raised funds will go to the communities in Outback NSW through a donation to the Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes.  Once again, a big thank you to the Year 2 classes and the SRC for their initiative.

Our Year 3 students recently wrote to some of our NSW farmers and this week we received a very welcoming letter in response. (below).

Dear St Mary's North Sydney School,

Today we received two beautiful letters from kids at your school and some groceries in regards to the drought we are currently experiencing.

A big shout out to Issy and Bradley your letters certainly made our day. They were very well written and very heartfelt.  On behalf of my family, we would like to thank you and your families and school for your thoughtfulness, and generosity.

We love living and working in the country. We own a farm in Niangala which is near Tamworth. We farm cows, sheep and wool. We currently are feeding our animals and caring for them around the clock. They are also having lambs and calves, which according to our two little girls 5 & 3 are sooooo cute. Having such beautiful people thinking about us means the world to us.

Thank you for your prayers of rain. Let's hope it is not too far away.

Again from my family to yours, thank you very much for your support.

From your farm friends,
Scott, Karen, Katie and Lucy Rizzi
Niangala NSW

Next Friday August 31, we celebrate the very important Father’s Day breakfast, liturgy and stall so we look forward to seeing as many of our Dads as possible join in the special events.

The Book Week activities were very successful in motivating our students to love reading and writing their own stories. A special thanks is given to Orlando from our Year 6 class for his creative storytelling activities that provided that extra stimulation. Well done Orlando!  Please see our blog for photos from  this and other recent events:

Our Year 3 Parents are working very hard through their BNO preparations to support our new Library so we hope that all families will attend this social event on Saturday September 22.

This is a reminder to all parents who will be enrolling their sons and daughters into Marist Catholic College in Year 7 2021, that enrolments will NOW take place during Term 4 of 2018. Please note this change of date. 

An update of the plans for the K-12 precinct will be provided at next week’s Parents and Friends meeting on Wednesday August 29 at 7.00 pm. We hope that you are able to attend.  For all Precinct updates, please visit:

I wish you a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.
Beverly Coffey

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Term 3 Week 3 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

It is with great delight that I congratulate our two students Shamiso, (Year 6) and Allegra, (Year 3) for their outstanding performance in last Friday’s final of the Public Speaking Competition held at Parliament House. Both girls were poised and articulate and confidently presented their speeches with great passion and conviction and were awarded certificates of merit, which is a wonderful achievement. A very shiny trophy was also awarded to Shamiso for being the runners up in the senior division. The girls have made us very proud and we encourage them to continue with their participation in such important learning opportunities where they can be successful and happy with their pursuits.

I often hear parents call for their children to be happy, healthy and successful and so was interested in the recently published research of Dr Michele Borba who has identified a 40% drop in empathy over the last 30 years and a growing trend of anxiety and depression, especially in high achieving students from affluent backgrounds. Dr Borba argues convincingly that by focusing on growing our children’s moral compass, we not only enable them to be more empathic, kind and socially connected, but also able to achieve enhanced academic outcomes. Her research sees empathy as the bedrock to building skills in collaboration, negotiation, problem solving and critical and creative thinking. Borba brings a growth mindset to this concept of empathy building and demonstrates repeatedly how empathy is a skill that can be grown.

Through our Religious Education Program To Know Worship and Love, and our Bounceback Program for building these social skills there is much that we are doing here at St Mary’s School to grow empathy through our reflections of our Liturgies and prayers and through service learning projects. Next Friday, August 17, our SRC, under the initiative of our Year 2 classes will be demonstrating their empathy for the drought victims through a fundraiser called A Fiver for a Farmer. You will see the details in our newsletter so we encourage you to support our children for their social awareness and generosity. Well done SRC and Year 2!

For those parents who are interested in reading the research of Dr Borba please find the following details.
Unselfie..Why Empathetic Kids Succeed In Our All-About-Me World. Michelle Borba, Ed.D.

I wish you all a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.
Beverly Coffey

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Term 3 Week 1 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

A warm welcome to Term Three! I trust that you all enjoyed a happy and restful holiday with your families, and are now ready and fresh for the busy term ahead. It has been encouraging to see the children returning to school with a healthy enthusiasm and willingness to enjoy their learning. Let’s keep that spirit alive!

The end of semester parent/teacher interviews provided an excellent opportunity for feedback on the students’ progress throughout this semester. Success is not determined only by the results that the children achieve but also by the effort they afford to their work.

We are all born with an array of talents, capabilities and potential and it is how we work towards realising these that is most important. One of the most aspects of education is relationship. Pope Francis highlighted this in a recent address to the Italian Union of Catholic School Teachers.

“In a society that struggles to find points of reference, young people need a positive reference point in their school. The school can be this or become this only if it has teachers capable of giving meaning to the school, to studies and to culture, without reducing everything to the mere transmission of technical knowledge. Instead they must aim to build an educational relationship with each student, who must feel accepted and loved for who he or she is, with all of his or her limitations and potential.”

Throughout this term St Mary’s will undertake the Sydney Catholic Schools Inquiry and Review Process for School Improvement. This process is an inclusive four-year process that supports the principles of continuous improvement. Each year includes the reflection, review and evaluation of the Annual Improvement Plan, the Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) School Improvement Tool and Reporting to the community. These actions take place with considerable community consultation using strategies for reviewing and evaluating the evidence that impacts positively on the Catholic life of the school, student wellbeing and learning, and supports a culture of continuous growth.

At the completion of the process a new Strategic Improvement Plan will be designed and will include the new direction of the K-12 Marist College. Further details will be provided as we progress.

I wish you all a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.
Beverly Coffey

Term 2 Week 10 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

This week brings Term 2 to a close.  It has been a busy and exciting term for us all at St Mary’s as we continue to shape our school community and share in the many momentous experiences that bring us together.

The students and staff have been involved in many activities: the Mother’s Day Liturgy; Family Masses; the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist; Athletics Carnival; special assemblies; sporting challenges and triumphs; individual and group achievements; public speaking and debating; choir and band performances and superb examples of students adopting a growth mindset- just to name a few! I see vibrancy, enthusiasm, empathy and hope for the future everywhere.

I have found it rewarding to read and observe the students’ progress in the rich and varied domains in their recent school reports and reflect on the work of Carol Dweck and the focus on building a growth mindset. Dwek’s research states that a focus on effort and not intelligence is the key to success in school and in life. In the spirit of this research, parents are encouraged to examine the school report not always in terms of grades but to also look at the effort grades. Focus on intelligence is fixed, whereas focus on effort leads to growth and can be changed and controlled by the student. Praising student effort and hard work that leads to working towards areas of personal best makes more impact.

We have appreciated the opportunity to talk with parents this week at the parent/teacher meetings where through trusting conversations we have successfully built on the understanding of the specific needs of each child. Your support in this process has been well received by the teachers.

Musica Viva performed recently for all students in a wonderful concert. The performance was engaging and interactive from the very beginning, with the musicians involving the children in conducting, composing and playing as well as active listening. This performance certainly stimulated the children’s creativity and curiosity.

I hope that you all enjoy a wonderful holiday and I am looking forward to another exciting and vibrant semester as our students and staff continue on their learning journey together. There are more exciting things to come in Term 3.

Happy Holidays,
God bless


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Term 2 Week 6 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

Throughout this term it has been an absolute pleasure to interview the new families enrolling their children into St Mary’s School. I always ask parents the question of why they want to enrol their children into a Catholic school and in particular St Mary’s School. Answers vary of course, but a common theme is present in all their responses which is usually around the importance of teaching the Catholic values and celebrating the Liturgy as a community. For our leaders and teachers in the school it is about proclaiming the story and passing on the story to our children. We are the storytellers.

Historically St Mary’s School has experienced the four charisms of the Marists, the Josephites, the Mercy Sisters and the Jesuits and our students learn about the unique qualities of these religious orders. Have you noticed the beautiful artwork at the front entrance to the school? This new work of the Madonna and Child looks very much at home in the entrance area. It bridges the design elements and materials of the new buildings with its laser cut and computer engraved stainless steel elements, while also being sensitive to the history of the old buildings represented by the traditional cast bronze. Please stop and look when you are passing through.

Congratulations to Tayissa O in Year 6 and Bianca R in Year 4 who have made it through to Mackillop level in Cross Country.  This is the third representative level and a very big achievement. 

 Today I met with principals and their parent representatives from Trent Zimmerman’s electorate for a briefing with the Minister, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham on education issues resulting from the Gonski review. The opportunity also allowed for Sydney Catholic School principals to raise our concerns over the school funding debate and the current SES model which disadvantages so many of our Catholic schools in the Sydney Archdiocese because of their capital city location. Our brief to the Minister was to keep the high quality low fee system of Sydney Catholic Schools and remind him of the great work we do in all 152 schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney. I sincerely thank our St Mary’s School parent representative, Mr Sam Duggan for his expertise and generous support in this process.

 The staff are very busy at present preparing the Semester 1 reports for the children. We aim to provide detailed information to parents so that a very clear picture of each student’s achievements is accurately recorded. At this reporting period we are also concerned with giving directions for areas of improvement and growth in the second semester. Following the dissemination of the reports, parent/ teacher interviews have been arranged for the last week of the term to discuss the areas of improvement and growth. Please view the meetings as an important part of the communication in the learning process.

 It is with great delight that I congratulate the Year 6 class parents, and in particular Lisa Porter and Katie Delaney for their outstanding efforts in the recent Lapathon raising $26,000 for our new library. Well done to all!

Best wishes,
Beverly Coffey

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Term 2, Week 2 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

A very warm welcome to Term 2!

I trust that the holiday break was a time of fun, relaxation and family time for all and that you have a renewed energy and motivation for the busy weeks ahead. The St Mary’s Staff look forward to working closely with you in the education of your child.

It certainly was wonderful to see our students return to school with huge smiles on their faces, ready to embark on another exciting term of curiosity, creativity, challenge, critical thinking and deep learning. I wish our students a very successful and fulfilling time ahead.

This term promises to be an action packed 10 weeks. Here are just a few of the events timetabled.
  •         Mothers Day Liturgy and Morning Tea
  •          Lapathon
  •         NAPLAN Testing
  •          Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion
  •         Athletics Carnival
  •          Parent/Teacher Interviews and school reports

Gonski 2.0 Report

During the break, I participated in a study tour of the Singapore Education System and its schools. As a constant high performing system of schools according to the International PISA results, it was interesting to note they are also rebalancing their system towards a more holistic education, beyond narrowly defined academic success. Their focus, like in Australian education following the recent Gonski 2.0 report, will be to develop 21st Century competencies to achieve greater diversity and flexibility in the education landscape. Teachers will be at the core of the Education System and there will be a strong emphasis on developing solid foundations for the early years of education. It was encouraging to note how similar the two systems were in their strategic planning and thinking around providing support to bring out the best in every child whatever the starting point and improving lifelong learning through appropriate skill development. The plan to cater for different aptitudes and strengths is already in place at St Mary’s as we continue our strong focus on the differentiated curriculum to meet individual student needs.

For your interest I have included a link to the Media Release from the National Catholic Education Commission about the recommendations from the Gonski 2.0 report:

NAPLAN testing

The students in Years 3 and 5 will undertake the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy to assess the literacy and numeracy learning of students in all Australian schools. The results of the tests will provide information to the School about what each student can do, and will be used to support teaching and learning programs. Parents will receive a report indicating their child’s level of achievement at the end of Term 3. Each student’s level of achievement will be reported against the national minimum standard.

The tests will be conducted on the following days:
  •         Tuesday 15 May: Language conventions (including spelling, grammar and punctuation) and writing tests.
  •         Wednesday 16 May: Reading test
  •          Thursday 17 May: Numeracy test (including number, algebra, function and pattern, measurement, chance and data and space)

Time has been given in Year 3, and 5 classes to ensure that the students are well prepared for the style and content of these tests. Therefore it is our recommendation that the best preparation for the students is a good night’s sleep and a healthy and sustaining breakfast on the mornings of the tests.

Year 6 Leadership

I was very proud of the following Year 6 leaders who very responsibly directed the many visiting parents around the school at the Open Day last Wednesday. Parents commented on their articulate, knowledgeable and hospitable manner. Congratulations to the following students. Hamish, Abigail, Sienna, Harriet, Macey, Zoe and Georgie.

Best wishes and God bless,
Beverly Coffey

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Term 1 Week 11 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

This very busy, full and successful term concludes today and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support you have brought to St Mary’s School. Staff and parents, together, have ensured that the students have been well engaged with the learning process and that the outcomes achieved have been most positive.

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the students better this term through the many events and activities that have occurred and by experiencing the classes in action in our wonderful new learning spaces. I have come to admire the students’ delight in engagement, determination to learn and positive disposition.

We are grateful for the tremendous support we have enjoyed this term from the school community of parents. There are so many invaluable ways in which parents have stepped up to assist from the organisation of the Meet and Greet, providing hospitality on Grandparents Day, assisting with the Cross Country and the Opening School Masses. We look forward to working with you next term.

Staffing Update
I would like to announce to the parents and students that Mrs Julie Hunt will be taking Study and Long Service Leave for the entirety of Term 2. This opportunity will allow Julie time for professional reading and reflection and time to travel as a family. It is with great confidence and knowledge of capacity that I announce that Mr Sean White will take on Julie’s role as Assistant Principal during her absence and Mrs Jilly Vandeventer to teach her Year 3 class on Thursdays and Fridays. We wish Julie every success for a wonderful term ahead.

Letter from the Executive Director
Dr Dan White has an update for the community on the proposed North Sydney Pre K - 12 co-educational Precinct.  Please find this information in the newsletter.

NAPLAN testing
The students in Years 3 and 5 will undertake the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy to assess the literacy and numeracy learning of students in all Australian schools. The results of the tests will provide information to the School about what each student can do, and will be used to support teaching and learning programs. Parents will receive a report indicating their child’s level of achievement at the end of Term 3. Each student’s level of achievement will be reported against the national minimum standard.

The tests will be conducted on the following days:
Tuesday 15 May: Language conventions (including spelling, grammar and punctuation) and writing tests.
Wednesday 16 May: Reading test
Thursday 17 May: Numeracy test (including number, algebra, function and pattern, measurement, chance and data and space)

Time has been given in Year 3, and 5 classes to ensure that the students are well prepared for the style and content of these tests. Therefore it is our recommendation that the best preparation for the students is a good night’s sleep and a healthy and sustaining breakfast on the mornings of the tests.

May I wish all families a happy and safe holiday with quality time for rest and relaxation.

Best wishes and God bless,

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Week 7 Term 1 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

Throughout the Season of Lent we ask all families to show their children the special importance of prayer in their daily lives. Prayer is a core value of religion. Particularly when things are difficult we call upon God for help. But, what is prayer? What do I hope to achieve when I pray?

Prayer has been described as “Keeping company with our God.” Through prayer, we acknowledge, contemplate, listen to, thank and communicate with God. Prayer, whether done in adoration, as an appeal to God for mercy, or for a change in circumstance, fosters internal formation. Prayer for mercy forms mercy within us; prayer for strength forms strength within us. When we call these virtues to mind and make them a central focus of our being, we begin to live that virtue. It is born within us and is God’s internal work.

As parents there are many ways that you can help to deepen this relationship with God through prayer for your children. I will share some of these suggestions with you:

Remember the power of example: Children’s first lessons in formal prayer occur when they see their parents pray.

In simple ways, and from the earliest age, draw the children’s attention to the presence of God in the lives of all of us.

In the beauty of nature, in the closeness we feel for each other, and in the many acts of kindness we see and experience, we see God.

Share a prayer at the family mealtime.

Introduce the children to scripture. Take turns in reading a parable or some event in the life of Jesus from the Bible.

The great prayer of course is the Mass. Do everything you can to help the children see themselves as part of a family and a community which gather together to listen to God’s word.

“In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could lead to a hardness of heart, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, in order to experience his tenderness.” 
Pope Francis

It has been a very exciting week for all staff and students as we finally moved into our wonderful new learning spaces. I hope that you have all had the chance to tour through the beautiful classrooms. We are very thankful to have this opportunity to teach in such contemporary spaces and offer our students a learning culture that is collaborative and creative. There will be an opportunity to celebrate the completion of our building project later in the year with a Blessing and Opening Ceremony. In the meantime, if you have not walked through the spaces we will offer some opportunities for parents to visit next week.
Wednesday March 21 at 8.15am.
Friday March 23 at 8.15am.

Please look on the school blogsite to see the fly through of the school classrooms as photographed by Markus Powling.  Direct link:

Best wishes for a happy St Patrick’s Day.
God bless

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Week 4 Term 1 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

It has been encouraging to see our new Kindergarten children settling into their school routines so happily over the past two weeks. Congratulations to all parents for your wonderful support in this task. We also thank our students for making our new Kindergarten children feel so welcome at St Mary’s School.

Our new playground facilities have certainly been a delightful addition to the school and our students are enjoying the space and freedom which has been created. The transition to the new learning spaces is currently in place with all classes hopefully in their new rooms by the end of next week. The builders are finalising some minor defects on the first and second floors of the building before we are issued with the occupation certificate. There will be much to celebrate when we finally have all students working in their new learning spaces.

Our academic year has started smoothly with initial assessments and ongoing testing providing additional valuable information to ensure that strong and appropriate learning programs are in place. Our focus is equally directed to ensuring a schooling environment that supports social and emotional wellbeing. For us as adults, both as educators and parents, we want our students to be strong, courageous individuals with the capacity to stand true to their beliefs, to stand up against victimisation and to stand tall with integrity and honesty. Such courage is not innate, but comes with practice and when opportunities present for such actions to be taken.

The ability to persevere, delay gratification and find an inner strength to show grit when experiencing challenges and adversity is essential to our students’ wellbeing. We seek parent support in modelling a positive mindset and an enabling view so that this is the reality for each and every student at St Mary’s.

This year we will have the support of a School Counsellor, Mrs Tamara Murrell as part of the staffing allocation from Sydney Catholic Schools. Tamara will work closely with teachers and parents in the support of students with their wellbeing who need professional help to enrich their learning opportunities while at school. Tamara will work at St Mary’s on Wednesdays and Thursdays and referrals are to be made through my principal’s office. Our focus on student wellbeing links closely with the Sydney Catholic Schools theme for 2018 which is taken from Luke’s Gospel (1:30) “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God”
This message is taken from The Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus. The action statement we are working with at St Mary’s as our school theme is: Do not be afraid – Be courageous – Be adventurous – God loves you!

St Mary’s is a wonderful Faith community and I look forward to our first class Mass for Kindergarten and Year 6 students and their families this Sunday in St Mary’s Church at 9.00 am.

Next Friday March 2 at 6.30pm we welcome all families to the annual Meet and Greet celebration that will be a wonderful way to catch up with friends and welcome new members to the school community. A special thanks goes to our Parents and Friends Committee, particularly Susan Vaz for organising this lovely celebration.  I would also like to thank our Year 5 parents for the delicious morning tea they generously arranged after the Opening Mass held earlier this month.

May the week ahead be a peaceful one for all families.

Beverly Coffey