Care and collaboration in a pandemic

Pivot, reimagine, unprecedented and exhausted … all well used words to describe 2020. But, what about “congratulations”, “we did it”, “we are safe”?

Arden Anglican School in Beecroft and Epping celebrated the end of the school year last week through a series of four live streamed events from their newly opened creative arts centre. Parents were able to access the live stream through the School’s intranet, from their homes, offices or even the local café.

The principal, Graham Anderson explained in his address to the school community, that 2020 was
relabelled The year of care and that this became the theme for all aspects of school life. He went on to encourage the audience for a job well done. He explained that parents, students and staff had
rediscovered care: care for each other through connection, responsibility, appreciation and most
importantly, care by working together to learn new things.

In March, when Arden moved to remote learning along with many other schools, their ICT team, under the leadership of Craig Murray, rapidly accelerated their work using Microsoft Teams and Microsoft OneNote to allow for face-to-face interactions. Most aspects of the school day were changed to an online format in order to maintain routine for students. The school has been astounded by some of the statistics that the year revealed: 110,761 Microsoft Teams messages sent, 24,588 meets, 17,209 calls.

They recorded 1.3TB of classes and had over 340,000 logins to their school portal.

“Whilst we continued to provide excellence in learning, we also took advantage of the opportunities presented. Our staff engaged in a rapid learning program, covering what would normally be provided throughout a year in just a few weeks. It was so exciting to see our teachers and support staff embrace the changes in technology and develop creative ideas with their colleagues,” director of teaching and learning Joshua Harnwell explained.

Examples of some of the creativity included bringing a pet to class and going into the backyard to
investigate different leaves. The staff designed physical education lessons that could be carried out in a confined space, which was especially challenging with some students living in apartments, but all the effort was richly rewarded, and some parents even joined their children’s lessons.

“2020, more than ever, was a time where the students needed to embrace the school values of
courage, compassion, hope, respect, service and love,” Anderson said.

“We are grateful to our whole School Community for helping to keep us safe, for being strong, for stretching, for standing firm and for showing care for themselves, for others. We are also grateful to our Heavenly Father, who answered our 2020 prayers.”

Arden will commence campus tours again in 2021. Registration online is essential. www.arden.nsw.edu.au.

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