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Gems From The College Archives

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Gems From The College Archives
by Jill Fitzsimons - Tuesday, 8 September 2020, 9:44 AM

This week I would like to reflect on two gems from the College archives. The first, a letter to staff from Principal Brother Sebastian in 1971. In his letter, Br Sebastian advises staff on return to work arrangements for Monday 1st February, including the news that staff will be returning to work at the Camberwell campus at 9am on a public holiday. Even though he stresses that this was unforeseen, his tone suggests this is non-negotiable because ‘our plans were made last year before this fact was known’. Clearly terms like ‘agile’ and ‘pivot’ were not in vogue in 1971 and the Independent Education Union did not have the influence it has today.

The day’s agenda is very pragmatic. The purpose of the day is to welcome new staff and students, discuss College ‘policy and organisation’ and share lunch. Interestingly, staff are invited to put ‘their classes in order before the 1st February’. There is certainly no industrial agreement for mandated ‘Professional Practice Time’, designated time to meet with colleagues and plan classes, nor is there scheduled time to attend department meetings, engage in professional learning or training. Unlike today, where new staff are inducted over two full days, there is certainly no formal induction process for new staff before classes resume.

Reading this letter filled me a heartfelt admiration for the commitment of these teachers to the College and the boys and no-fuss attitude to just getting on with things and getting the work done. It also reminded me how lucky today’s teachers are to have access to a wealth of professional learning and training. Today’s staff are provided with time to develop the necessary knowledge and skill to deal with a range of complex issues and professional requirements. For example: how to support a child having an anaphylactic reaction; how to identify and support students who are at risk; how to support students with specific learning needs; how to use ICT to facilitate learning or strategies to support student and staff wellbeing. On the other hand, community expectations of today’s teachers are certainly much greater, as are registration requirements, and despite the provision of more preparation time at the start of the year, I have no doubt that the sound of having a ‘buffet lunch’ (without having to complete any compliance modules or attend a series of briefings before the first bell rings) might sound very appealing to current staff.

Br Sebastian’s listing of the three terms and the public holidays are also a stark reminder of the toughness of Marcellin College’s early teachers and students. They taught and learned for long stretches of time and did not have a Grand Final Eve holiday, even though this day now falls in school holidays and is still a contentious notion for many businesses. And, ‘quelle horreur’, there is no mid-term break before Cup Day to get on top of marking or mowing the lawn.

Fast forward to 1992 and note this other gem from College archives – a photo of College staff waiting at the Bullen campus bus stop on their way to a ‘Staff Seminar’. Resplendent in jumpers that would not look out of place at Bridget Jones’ turkey curry buffet family Christmas party, this happy bunch of staff are heading off Palloti College in Millgrove. There are clearly more lay staff than in 1971 and it is good to see that staff enjoyed wearing the Marcellin sports jacket as much as they do now.

Br Sebastian’s 1971 letter to staff and this photo from 1992, serve as simple reminders of the College’s enormous growth and development over its 70 year history as a Catholic Marist school. Sincere thanks to the myriad of religious and lay staff who have worked so very hard to grow and develop themselves in their roles - College leaders, teachers, Learning Support Officers, Education Support employees and School Services Officers.  In partnership with families, the College community has worked together in service of student learning, while providing opportunities for the personal and spiritual development of the many boys educated at the Camberwell and/or Bulleen campus.

Enroute to a Staff Seminar at Milgrove