Leading Care and Wellbeing in a GSE School

Jun 14, 2016

Reflection by Marlo VanderZalm

Over the course of my teaching career, I have had the opportunity to attend numerous professional learning days on such topics as leadership, wellbeing and pastoral care. The concepts and learning have been quite general so they can be applied to any teacher in any school. During the day at the Mount St Benedict Centre, we considered how we as Middle School Leaders apply our leadership skills, and wellbeing principles within the context of working in Good Samaritan Education schools.

Maria Pearson, the Principal of Mount St Benedict College and keynote speaker, asked us “Why do we care for our students?” We were reminded of the fundamental belief operating in Good Samaritan Education schools, that every person is made in the image of God. To care for all of our students equally, can be challenging at times for teachers. Maria emphasised that the care of our students needs to be consistent and fair and that when we deviate from this path, it can be the cause for concern from our students and families. Maria was able to share many valuable stories, insights and anecdotes about how we might tackle the obstacles that come with our roles. As teachers, the connection that we have with our students is of the utmost importance, “Teachers need to touch hearts” (John Baptist de La Salle).

The day provided Middle Leaders with the opportunity to discuss pastoral care structures within our individual schools and to develop strategies for building upon our wellbeing programs without detracting from the academic programs that our schools offer. We revisited the Good Samaritan Schools Teaching & Learning Framework and looked at how the Rule of St Benedict is reflected in our own learning communities.

Having participated in the day, Middle Leaders left with a clearer understanding of the philosophy of Good Samaritan Education and the commitment to the Benedictine Values that are central to developing right relationships with all stakeholders in the community. Pastoral care is integral to the development of the whole person and importantly underpins the work of Good Samaritan Education schools.

Marlo VanderZalm
Head of Middle School
Mater Christi College