By Jo Frost, Vice Principal (Wellbeing)/Head of Senior School
Every day we strive to develop strong, confident Mentone Girls. As Vice Principal (Wellbeing), I have been working extensively with our staff since 2015 to ensure that we continue to provide a safe, nurturing and supportive environment for all students. I am proud to say that our School has never been ‘just about the results’, but dedicated to supporting the social and emotional development of young girls. We have so much more to offer to students through our commitment to our WAVES priorities and our personalised approach to learning.
What is Wellbeing and how does it help our students?
According to Better Health, wellbeing is a “complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors, strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction.” At an educational level, wellbeing is integral to learning. At Mentone Girls' Grammar, we want every student to lead a happy, active and fulfilling life and recognise the importance of wellbeing for overall health, as well as achievement. Our students are encouraged to be creative, to value learning, to develop resilience and build respectful relationships so that they can develop their own personal growth and bring about positive change in the world.
What are our Wellbeing services and priorities in 2017?
At the day to day level, we have a dedicated team of Home Group Teachers and VCE Tutors who are always the first point of contact for our students and their parents. Together they work closely with the School Leadership team to support students’ academic and personal wellbeing needs.
We are very excited by our vision to create a Wellbeing Precinct that will transform one-third of our physical campus.
The first stage of our Wellbeing Precinct began in 2014 with the completion of our Wellbeing Centre which offered students a dedicated space to practise mindfulness, keep active and access our School Nurse and School Psychologist, linking these important services. This Centre has enabled the opportunity for expert staff across the School to collaborate and experiment with traditional and non-traditional ways of supporting the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our students, taking advantage of a new Mind Body Studio and fitness gym. Students in Senior School are allowed lunch-time access to the gym every day of the week.
In 2017 and 2018 our Precinct plans will develop further with the proposal for a cutting-edge aquatic facility, followed by the creation of extensive outdoor multipurpose playing fields and courts for hockey, tennis, soccer, netball and basketball. This will significantly enhance our sporting, teaching and learning capabilities leading to enhanced health and educational outcomes.
Our Student Services team includes Learning Support specialists and experts in Curriculum and Careers Counselling services. This year, we are thrilled to host our Education Support Groups in a new building located next to Cobbalanna, opposite the Willow Courtyard. Our Education Support Groups assist students with very particular needs and work in partnership with parents to assist the student and provide a personalised program of support.
Our qualified registered Nurse, Mrs Fiona Luscombe, has extensive experience working in schools and is available to attend to student illness, accidents and emergencies from 8.15am – 4.15am during term-time. We have two highly experienced School Psychologists, Mrs Lara Silkoff for Senior School and Mrs Kirsty Alnwick for Junior School, who both provide individual counselling support to assist with issues such as anxiety, stress, motivation, self-esteem, social issues, family difficulties, mental health issues, learning problems and grief. Students also have the support of our caring and understanding School Chaplain, Rev Philippa Lohmeyer-Collins, who provides informal discussion groups and class lessons through our Religion and Values Education (RAVE) program.
Our extensive Wellbeing program includes a whole school approach to mindfulness and encourages positive education, leadership and service. All students practise mindfulness 2 - 3 times per week at the start of the day, as well as anytime needed in class. As part of our WAVES curriculum, students in Years 7 - 12, engage in other relaxation activities, including beach walks, breathing exercises and meditation, as well as fun activities such as inter-class games and competitions. Our older students can practise yoga to improve their respiration, energy and vitality, whilst our younger students enjoy aerobic routines every Monday and Friday morning. In addition, students are presented with various options that enable them to ‘disconnect’ from technology from time to time, such as knitting workshops. Interestingly, these help them to focus on a particular task and participate in face-to-face conversations with their classmates. Students also recognise each other’s birthdays with special, unique celebrations.
Support for Parents
Our School’s support staff can also offer guidance to parents regarding parenting or school issues, and recommend external professionals if ongoing support is required. In addition, we offer parents access to our highly regarded All About Girls Parenting Series which is a program of practical seminars led by child psychologists, education specialists and other experts, addressing contemporary issues affecting girls today.
In Term 2, we are delighted to be welcoming back one of Australia’s leading Clinical Psychologists, Dr Judith Locke, from Monday 1 May – Wednesday 3 May 2017 to present her latest strategies and insights into modern parenting.
For more information on our Wellbeing & Support Services, please visit our website.
- Better Health Channel – http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au. Accessed Tuesday 14 February 2017.