Hero photograph
Headmaster Mr Grant Lander
Photo by Mark Hamilton

Headmaster's Pen

Grant Lander —

As we moved yesterday to Alert Level 2 and a shift to face-to-face teaching and learning on Monday, May 18 this is the final digital Informer, in what has been a very unique time in all of our lives.

Dear Parents and Caregivers

As we moved yesterday to Alert Level 2 and a shift to face-to-face teaching and learning on Monday, May 18 this is the final of our weekly Informer, in what has been a very unique time in all of our lives.

The past couple of months have been an anxious time for us as a country and individuals, as we have wondered whether our experience of this pandemic was going to be similar to that experienced by the likes of Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. We have had to endure time away from friends and family members, work from home and alter many of the normal patterns that had become integral parts of our lives. Many in our communities have suffered very significant economic consequences and continue to experience real financial hardship as a result of the lockdown. Some have seen the viability of businesses that they have proudly built up over many years and decades disappearing before their eyes, helpless to do anything about it, as their future has been determined by things outside of their control. Our thoughts and prayers go out to these individuals and their families.

But it hasn’t been all bad. Coronavirus or COVID-19 as we have come to know it, has given us time out of our incredibly busy lives to reflect. Time to spend quality moments with our families and loved ones . A time, once again, when we became the primary educators of our children. Many of us have reflected during this time about our priorities. For some the workplace will never be the same and working from home has suddenly become a viable option. For others lockdown has enabled them to become fitter or to fulfill an outstanding personal goal. We have had to do things differently; not use our car as much, use bikes and walk a lot more, shop differently, catch up on a lot of those jobs around the house, play games and involve ourselves in activities that we have not done for a long time.

Schools and teachers have also learned a lot. Teachers have had to go through a fast tracked programme of professional development on the use of digital techniques for the delivery of learning. Schools have had reinforced to them the importance of one-on-one contact when it comes to student engagement. Those young people who are self-motivated and well-organised have thrived using DLD, but for so many others; those with learning challenges; those who thrive on the benefits of the collaborative experience of the classroom, they have gradually felt less connected the longer distance learning has gone on.

Universally, most would agree that it’s time to get back to a ‘new normal’. The future will hold a significant amount of uncertainty. Will the virus return with any sort of vengeance? How long will it be until New Zealand’s borders are able to be open and we will once again regain the freedom to travel and for those from overseas to gain the benefit of seeing our beautiful country or even the opportunity of an international education in schools such as St Paul’s Collegiate? What will such international travel even look like and cost? How long will it take before our economy returns to some sort of normality and so many that have been made unemployed can get back into the job market?

As a school community it is important for us to realise that on May 18, we will not return to a school that operates the same way as it did just a little while back in February. The circumstances that led to a national lockdown mean that we have had to adjust our practices and procedures. This will probably lead to some initial frustration from students, staff and parents. Patience and understanding are going to become important in the months ahead. There will be a natural impatience to make things as they were before. But there needs to be the recognition that the events of recent times have changed things in many respects forever and in many cases probably for the better.

From a personal perspective, I hope that the impact of COVID-19 on you and your family is not too long lasting. I am very much looking forward to working with your son and daughter in a face- to-face context. I’ve learnt from this experience that the key reason I went into this incredibly rewarding profession is ‘the young people’ and the energising impact they have on me and the organisations that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.

May Our Lord provide you with the benefit of his wisdom, guidance and protection as we emerge from our homes to confront the challenges before us in 2020 and beyond.

With the kindest regards

Grant Lander