Edmund Rice Education Australia Touchstone
As a Catholic School in the Edmund Rice tradition, all members are challenged to prophetic leadership within the school community and beyond.
The staff at St Edward’s take our role seriously in fostering the leadership potential of students at the College. We participate in and implement a range of initiatives that are designed to provide students with a voice and develop and grow their own leadership potential in a safe and supportive way. We do this because we have great faith in our young people. We firmly believe that if we challenge, nurture and inspire their thinking about social and global issues and support them in having an informed voice and the courage to articulate their thinking, even if it is countercultural, that we are preparing them to be good solid contributors to a society which is better than the one they are inheriting.
We are always so pleased in how the students of St Edward’s respond to this challenge. Their reflective thinking, compassion and ability to articulate their ideas in a coherent and concise way never ceases to amaze us. As we approach the end of the year, I would like to share with you two recent examples of how members of our newly elected prefect group have risen to the challenge of leadership in sharing their voice.
Year 11 leaders have been invited to spend an afternoon with Bishop Anthony Randazzo, the Bishop of Broken Bay to discuss the theme ‘Rebuilding Relationships and Reconnecting Post Lockdown’. One of the topics for conversation was Who Inspires Me as a Leader? Students were asked to write and share a reflection as part of this gathering. Below is the reflection provided by Owen Bradstreet, one of our College Vice Captains. This personal piece of writing provides great insights into the deep thought that our young people are capable of and reminds us of our role in fostering this development of the spirit. I thank Owen for allowing me to share this with you.
Who inspires me as a leader?
We live in a time of uncertainty; we have just returned off the back of this nation’s second wave of COVID-19, a pandemic spanning almost two years, one that has taken the lives of millions across the world and sent even more into emotional and economic hardship. We continue to experience the catastrophic effects of global warming, as we helplessly lay witness to islands sinking, land clearing, corals dying, water polluting and fires raging. As new information technology and communication platforms increasingly dominate our lives, we succumb to the stark and unconscious polarisation and self-absorption that comes with it. In a world where it is often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and maintain perspective, it is important to remember that despite all that may appear negative, there is still good in this world. Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have been lifted from extreme poverty, thousands of scientists and conservationists are working around the clock to save what is left of the natural world, creating animal arks and establishing conservation areas, the Uluru Statement of the Heart continues to grow and build momentum in fighting for justice in Australia, cultural revolution continues to spread across the world as we confront our national and individual identities. So, to answer the question of who inspires me as a leader? It is humanity’s tomorrow, our future generations to come. It is crunch time in so many aspects of today’s current affairs, so it is pivotal that when we think about our actions, we keep our children of tomorrow at heart.
Another excellent example of how thoughtful our young people are on topical issues was evidenced in the Prefect initiative around White Ribbon Day. We have a great opportunity as a predominantly all-boys school to make very positive and strong statements about respectful relationships. Relationships which preserve the dignity and worth of all individuals. White Ribbon Day was commemorated on Friday November 19. The theme for this year’s White Ribbon Day was ‘How Can Men Make Change?’ Learn, Give, Take Action against gender inequality and violence. Our prefect group prepared a presentation which was shared online with our whole community. I have provided a link to this presentation and encourage parents and carers to take time to listen to the important messages which underpin student thinking on the topic.
I am sure you will agree that the two examples of student leadership, reflection and action provide us with great reassurance that the world of the future is in good hands. If St Edward’s can play a part in developing the thoughts and actions of our future leaders and members of society, then we are fulfilling one of our greatest responsibilities.