4 Seasons in 3 Days

Many of you might be wondering what is happening with our climate. We have experienced some bizarre events this year already with devastating bushfires and record high temperatures as far back as November last year and recently a 43 degree day on Thursday with zero humidity to the next day with mid-30 degree temperatures and extreme high humidity, to torrential downpours with flooding and today temperatures around 20 degrees and the need to wear a jumper. At the same time news across the world about the spread of the Coronavirus is deeply worrying. Our authorities have had to implement very strict rules in order to contain the spread of this virus and the potential of further infections and deaths. The impact on people’s lives is significant and ranges from those who have travelled in China or who have visited Wuhan to those who rely on overseas visitors for tourism and business. 2020 has certainly presented some significant challenges for our world leaders and indeed ourselves as we face these and our own daily challenges.

Our theme for 2020 at Cardijn is “One wild and precious life”. How important is it for us to unpack this theme given the events of the last few months? The theme comes from the poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver. In the poem we are presented with an image of walking in a field and seeing the beauty of nature through the eyes of a grasshopper, and whilst being outdoors and walking in wonderment we ponder over our life, its fragility, its excitements, its beauty and grace and importantly our own gratitude for the day and ultimately a challenge of what we would do with our one wild and precious life?

The word precious is one I focussed on at our open liturgies last week. I spoke to our students about the word precious. Everyone at Cardijn is precious, born into a loving world full of potential and opportunity. Everyone is deeply important and matters absolutely. This means we want everyone to thrive and be inspired to be at their best each day. We commit to everyone feeling safe, to belong and to be challenged, to take responsibility for ensuring that Cardijn is a place that makes a difference to every person with local touch and global reach.

Over the weekend the student leaders attended Nunyara Camp for their leadership formation. I had the opportunity to share a few stories. The major point I made to our student leaders included that ultimately a leader’s credibility must be underpinned by what they stand for and believe in. In my case I believe that every child has the opportunity to flourish and thrive, to have the opportunity to dream big and reach for the stars, to be supported and nurtured, to be inspired to be at their best. My role is to harness everything possible from people, resources and infrastructure to make this possible. Leadership is much more powerful if our focus is on how we as leaders have an impact on others. It is not measured by merely what we achieve but rather on how people remember the leader for how they made them feel in the process of their work and leadership.

Leadership is not a position or a title, it is an action and example.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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