From The Principal

Last week was a fantastic week at the College as there were many events held, which recognised and celebrated our senior students who have begun their NCEA examinations this week. 

We began the week with our academic prize giving on Tuesday evening, where senior students were recognised and celebrated for their academic success in 2022, followed by our final school assembly on Wednesday, Thanksgiving mass on Thursday, and then on Friday the focus moved to welcoming our new Carmel students and their whanau who will join our College community in 2023.

I wish to acknowledge and thank the huge team at the College who worked to ensure that all four of these events were successful in not only celebrating and recognising our students, but in that they allowed us to bring together and acknowledge our wider community of parents, families and friends who have supported our young woman.  So, to the team at the College, who there really are too many to name individually, thank you for all of your time and support; it was noticed and appreciated.

With our senior students on study leave and now only coming into the College to sit exams or attend tutorials, the school may feel quieter, but there is a lot left in the year for our students in Years 7-10.  This week alone has seen our Year 7 students participate in surfing lessons at Orewa, which they assure me were ‘awesome’ and lots of fun, and that the water wasn’t that cold. 

To finish this ‘From the Principal’ message, below is the speech I gave at the senior academic prize giving.  I would like to take this opportunity to again acknowledge the support from our community, the foundations that were laid by our former Principal, Ms Chris Allen, and again wish to congratulate our senior students.  To  those leaving the College, I am confident that during your time at the College you have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to ensure that you are empowered to pursue your own personal excellence, and are prepared to challenge and shape your future.  You are a young woman of Mercy who acts justly, loves tenderly and walks humbly with our God, and we all wish you the very best for your future.

Senior Academic Prize Giving Speech:

Thank you.  It is a privilege to address you this evening as Principal and an honour to acknowledge and celebrate the academic achievements of our young woman across the 2022 academic year.

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to reconnect with Carmel, the College and our wider community, and this has involved understanding how the school runs and also how we engage with our community.  It is evident that our College’s core business is learning and teaching, whilst ensuring that the faith and wellbeing of those in our College and our community is at the forefront of all decisions made and at the heart of everything we do.

It is important to acknowledge that this year has not been any smoother than previous years and we have continued to experience disruptions due to Covid.  Although we may not have had lockdowns, arguably, managing ‘living with COVID’ and the challenges this has brought with isolations and the impact of having COVID that many of us have experienced, has had flow on effects which have increased workloads and naturally in line with this, created tension, disruption and stress. 

During challenges and disruptions, reflections and adjustments can be made, and arguably our young women over the last 3 years of COVID have developed far greater skills than what some of us may have developed at their age.  They have been able to adjust and adapt to ensure that their academic goals remain a priority, and tonight is the time to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate with them.   

When celebrating success, it is also important to acknowledge those who have played their part in making this happen.

Firstly, thank you to you, our parents and whanau.  You have entrusted your daughter’s education to Carmel College, whilst supporting her through the challenges and opportunities that young women encounter as they navigate their secondary school years.  I know that parents always have a desire for their children to have more opportunities and success than they have had, and this evening you can all be very proud of what your daughter has achieved this academic year.

To our Board of Trustees, thank you for your time and your commitment in the governance role you have at the College.  The skills that you all bring to the Board are valuable, and it is going to be exciting to work with you all as we begin to look at the future for our College and continue to build on our foundations to ensure that our young woman leave Carmel College as empowered woman of Mercy who will challenge and shape their futures.

At this point I would like to acknowledge the leadership and role that Ms Chris Allen had during her service at Carmel College.  I have shared with our head girls that for me personally, Ms Allen was not only my English and form teacher in Year 12, but she was also the person who proofread and edited my speeches when I was a student leader.  Sorry- she hasn’t proofread this one, but I know she would have reminded me not to ‘waffle on’.

Chris has been the Principal and the leader of the Carmel College community for the previous 7 ½ years, and served this community for 25 years over a 50 year period.  As Principal, Chris has had a pivotal and positive impact on our students and their education, one which sees them here this evening being celebrated for their academic success. 

I would also like to thank the senior leadership team, who over the last few months have had a significant substitution made to the team part way through the season.  To Mrs Karen Mitchell, Ms Rosanna Fouhy, Mr Graham Atkinson, Mrs Anna O’Farrell and Mrs Liz Walker, along with Ms Deb Goudie and Mrs Claudia Officer- thank you for being so patient, supportive, understanding and just all round amazing to work with as I find my feet at Carmel. The transition from my perspective hasn’t been daunting and I thank each of you for the part you have played to ensure that things keep running smoothly across the school.

To the teaching and support staff at the College, thank you.  To our support staff you keep the school humming.  Behind the scenes we have a wonderful team assisting with things from finance to admin, from property and assisting students with learning needs to supporting our international students, and those students who require emotional, wellbeing and mental support.  Thank you for your time and commitment supporting our teachers and students so they can focus on their core roles of learning and teaching.

And to our teachers.  It is you who are there working directly with our students, helping them to not only learn content and be prepared for assessments, but it is you, walking alongside them, helping them to navigate their day to day lives. 

Whilst our day to day focus is on the learning and teaching, it is highly likely many of our students won’t remember what was specifically taught to them during Period 3 on Tuesday of this week, but they will remember that it was you who taught them and you who worked with them, supported and guided them to ensure that they achieved their academic best.  Thank you for all your efforts this year.

This evening, I would like to acknowledge some of our departing staff members.  Mrs Denise Camilleri and Ms Kirsty Ussher who have been on leave this year are not returning for 2023, and earlier in Term 3 we farewelled Mrs Chris Taylor, our long standing librarian of 25 years.

We will be farewelling Mrs Brydie Stephens on Friday 11 November.  During Brydie’s service to the College she has been Dean of McAuley and recently the Head of our PE and Health Department.  Brydie, thank you for your commitment to the College over the last 3 years and all the best for your future endeavours, just outside of education. 

At the end of the month Mrs Shelley Roschmann, our Director of International Students is leaving.  Shelley, you have done an outstanding job at supporting our international students, overseeing their academic and pastoral needs, and so much more.  Thank you for your time and care over the last 12 years, and all the very best in your next position.

At the end of the year we will also farewell Mrs Shelley Ward, our Science technician who has been at the College for close to 7 years.  Shelley, thank you for your support and commitment to the Science department and the wider support staff team.  We wish you all the very best for your upcoming travel and time with your family.  

We also wish Mrs Rebekah McLeod, our school chaplain, the very best as she leaves the College at the end of the year following 6 years’ service.

Now, to our students.  Although unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to meet or get to know some of you, I know that you are young woman of Mercy and as Carmel students you are empowered to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God as you pursue your personal excellence with the confidence to shape your future. 

Tonight we acknowledge and celebrate you.  Congratulations for making the most of your 2022 academic year.  Thank you for striving for your own personal excellence, and in the words of Catherine McAuley, well done on doing the ordinary thing, which in our context is learning, extraordinarily well.