Around this time of year, our American friends hold one of their biggest events of the year: Thanksgiving. It is a national holiday in the USA and has some strange traditions, like the President pardoning a turkey, turkey bowling (frozen ones), turducken (turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken), turkey eating competitions, turkey tossing (not live ones) and a whole lot of overeating.
There is one Thanksgiving tradition that would be good to see more of in Australia and that is the actual giving of thanks i.e. thanksgiving. As I look back on the year that was, I want to share with you six reasons I’m a thankful Principal.
1. Facilities. This may be a slightly strange first reason, but as a Principal during 2020, I’m thankful for our facilities. In particular, our undercover Sports Centre meant that even though events were being cancelled all over the world, we could still hold our musical, special assemblies and graduations. It was wonderful to mark these important milestones in our students’ lives. Facilities may be an unusual first reason to be thankful but it was the buildings that allowed us to celebrate our amazing students in a way they deserved.
2. Family. Of course, I’m thankful for my own family but in 2020, I’m especially grateful to our GCC family. Many schools endured unhappy parents which ended up in ‘us and them’ situations. However, at GCC we felt wonderfully supported by our GCC family. It truly showed how the educational journey of our students is a valued partnership with parents and caregivers working together with teachers and staff. During the most difficult part of the year we received so many encouraging emails and messages that it prompted the staff to create a thank you video in response.
3. Staff. This has been a demanding year for our staff but I have never been more proud or thankful for the people who work with me at GCC. It would have been tempting to put COVID-19 teaching demands in the too-hard basket or to slacken off due to the huge increase in workload. However, GCC staff rolled their sleeves up, learned Zoom overnight, jumped into a steep learning curve with Gateway and away they went! Teaching is challenging at any time but teaching via computer to students at home AND to students in the classroom at the same time is a herculean task. Our staff not only did this well but they went out of their way to make it fun for the students. I still remember the goggles and glasses day, dress ups in Secondary and a whole lot of home-made videos to make the learning process as engaging and creative as possible.
4. Students. As much as it has been challenging for our staff, we can’t overlook how difficult the year has been for our students. Many of them were scared of the unknown and worried about what they would miss out on. However, I’m thankful that our students (with the incredible help of families and staff) have built their resilience, confidence and a can-do attitude. The year of doing things differently has shown our students that there are many solutions to a problem and the ability to think outside the box is vital for lifelong learning.
5. Australia. You may not be expecting this and Aussies have a long tradition of knocking our politicians but I’ve never been more thankful to live in Australia. Our leaders have had to make some tough and unpopular decisions and, even if we don’t agree with them all, Australia must be the best place in the world to live in at the moment. I’m also thankful for our health workers, our first responders and the millions of people in Australia who have set aside their own personal desires to put the health of others first by doing the right thing. I’m thankful for clean water to wash in, accessible medical help and even the trolley wipes at the front of each supermarket!
6. Jesus Christ. This is last on my list of six reasons why I’m a thankful Principal but it is the most important and undergirds everything else I’m grateful for. The gift of good facilities, encouraging GCC families, wonderful staff, amazing students and a great country pales beside the gift Jesus gave all of us. Jesus gives us life everlasting and peace with God. He was born and died just for us; so that we could be forgiven for our rebellion against God and live in peace with Him. Because of Jesus’ gift, we can come to our heavenly Father anytime knowing He loves us and hears our prayers. Jesus’ gift to us and my reason to be thankful is summed up in Romans 5, verses 6 to 11:
“For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much he loves us — it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! By his blood we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God’s anger! We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God’s friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ’s life! But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God’s friends.”
Mike Curtis, Principal