Principal's Blog - 22 June 2017

18 Jun 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

I write this article as I have done many times before, from the office I have occupied for over 8 years. I love my office. Not because of the things in it but because of its location in our College. As I sit at my desk I can look out the window and witness the exuberant energy of youth as they run, interact with each other and their teachers and play endless games of down ball. I hear their laughter, their banter, the occasional lighthearted argument about whether the ball was in or out or even the infrequent bang as a wayward ball strikes my window.  At other times it is a quieter outlook as boys gather in the morning or as they make their way purposefully from one class to the next.

You can understand then why I am sad to say I will be leaving this space in the coming weeks to take up residence in the new Marist House Administration centre. This decision was not an easy one for me and for the other members of the Leadership Team who will be joining me in this new space. It is a decision, like all decisions we make here at Marcellin, which I have made with the best interests of our students at its heart. As part of the redevelopment of the Hermitage building the original Main Reception and offices will soon become part of an expanded Student Services area which will house a new Student Reception area along with Careers and Counseling services as well as the offices of the Heads of Junior and Senior School and associated administration staff. I am very excited by the prospect of the development of this space in this location as it will provide ready access to students with regard to these broad and critical services in a one-stop-shop.

As I move into my new location, a little further away from the action of the day to day I need to reflect on how I ensure that I and the other members of the Leadership Team maintain a strong, visible and tangible presence in our College Community.

This idea of presence is not just some fluffy, sentimental notion. It goes to the very heart of who we are as Marists. The Spiritual and Educational philosophy passed onto us from Saint Marcellin Champagnat is very clear in what it demands of all those who support young people in a Marist context. There is a reason why Presence is listed as the first of the five Marist characteristics. It is because without it the other four would have no foundation, no vehicle for their action.

This first Characteristic, Presence, reminds us of the centrality of relationships. Marcellin Champagnat spoke about loving each of the young people we teach, and loving them equally. Presence is obviously a first step in getting to know our students and their families. It involves developing relationships with these people and gaining an understanding of their joys and hopes as well as their struggles and pain. As far as the day to day of school life is concerned, we educate above all through being present to young people in ways that show that we care for them personally. We make time for them beyond merely professional contact, getting to know each one individually. We support the young men in our care through pre-emptive presence and advice, using prudent care. In a respectful and caring way, we try to be firm and demanding with them whilst remaining optimistic and focussed on their personal growth.

I have challenged myself and the others who will join me in this new space to continue to live up to the lofty ideals presented above by our founder. There is no doubt that I will miss the close encounters with school life which I have enjoyed in the past, including the tennis balls hitting my window! But I now have an exciting opportunity to discover new ways of maintaining my presence in our College Community. I am relying on the boys themselves to let me know if I don’t live up to high standards set by my saintly friend. If you’re ever wandering down the path from Sandra Street make sure you wave as you pass my window, although hopefully you will not always see me there, I’ll be out in the yard ducking tennis balls!

Mark Murphy