My name is Andy Rankin. I was born just a couple of years ago in the not-so-sunny northwest of England, the son of an Australian father and an English mother. By the time I was 5, Mum had re-married and we'd flown half way around the world to live in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). So began a life of world travel and adventure that hasn't really stopped since. I attended seven different primary schools – two in the New Hebrides, one in the Cayman Islands (have a look on Google Earth), and four in the UK. Changing schools so often certainly makes you an expert at making new friends quickly, but I'm not quite so sure that it was good for my education!
In addition to travel, I love the adventure of climbing and mountaineering – it's quite possible I might have seen you if you have ever ventured around the southeast side of Barrenjoey Headland, where there is some excellent rock climbing. However, I don't recommend you repeat my three close encounters with brown snakes whilst climbing (but that's another story!).
Before committing to my vocation as a teacher in Australia at the age of 29, I was a full time musician for several years in the UK. Some may say that drummers are not musicians, but try telling that to somebody like Rob Hirst (Midnight Oil), or the drummers in the Avalon Public School bands and the drum corps! But it is indeed education where much of my real passion lies – nothing beats the magic of seeing a child grasp a new idea, the happiness of helping a struggling student finally ‘get' the joy of reading, or those warm fuzzy moments as the whole school cheers the exhausted swimmer to the finish line at the swimming carnival. They can be defining moments in a child's life and, as teachers, we have a tremendous responsibility and great privilege to be working with your children at Avalon Public School.
So that is just a little of my story, one to set the scene for the beginning of our story at Avalon Public School, one that we can create together. A story in which we can challenge minds and build character.
Whilst literacy and numeracy is key, I believe that a school community should be a tapestry of music, art, sport, student leadership, conversation and academic endeavour. A school steeped in tradition like Avalon is fertile ground for such rich educational experiences.
I believe that a school community should pursue all those endeavours in an environment based on respect, where each and every individual is able to contribute to that community, as we take care of ourselves and take care of each other. We should have fun, and truly find ‘Happiness through Helping'.
I believe that now, more than ever more, we are preparing students for a world that is in constant flux and is rapidly changing. The jobs that currently exist may not exist when our 2016 Kindergarten students graduate high school in twelve years' time. We want students to leave Avalon Public School as critical thinkers, collaborative and creative problem solvers and effective communicators, ready to face that changing world.
So what will I do for Avalon Public School in order to challenge minds and build character? I have, at my core, a desire for all students to excel and achieve their ‘Personal Best'. I will work with you and our staff to support students to reach high levels of engagement, so that they may enhance their academic attainment. That means meeting each student at their current level of ability and working alongside them to build toward the next achievable level. It might mean moving from Band 5 to Band 6 in NAPLAN. It might mean ‘bumping up' from one cluster to the next in reading comprehension on the literacy continuum. It might mean exploring a focus on inquiry-based learning in some grades, or providing students with enhanced technology options in their learning in others. It might mean expanding the range of extra-curricular activities, be it sport, foreign language, drama, music or indeed student leadership skills. But what I want to emphasize is that I place a high value on, and have high aspirations for, learning at Avalon Public School.
For this to occur, I have a responsibility to continue to provide an environment that affords opportunities for all staff to learn, reflect and improve collaboratively for the benefit of our students. I will facilitate an environment where professional learning is expected and sought after. I will work with our Executive and staff to be focused on improvement for the benefit of all students.
This cannot happen in a vacuum. I see myself as the lead learner at Avalon Public School and that is achieved by establishing, building and maintaining positive and effective relationships with the entire school community. The relationships that I build will be based upon integrity, trust, adaptability and hard work and it is what I will expect from all those who will enter into a relationship with me. Self-reflection and an invitation to provide me with feedback are essential to assess whether or not we are achieving our vision.
I will honour, value and work hard to maintain and enhance the rich culture of Avalon - including the sports programs; special programs such as debating, public speaking and chess; the creative and performing arts; the bands and the drum corps…hmm, I can't wait to join in there!
The positive profile of Avalon Public School in our local community will also continue to be a focus. I want to work alongside you to continue and enhance the great relationships with the Avalon community of families and businesses, and further afield with our partner Peninsula Community of Schools' colleagues.
Our story, I'm sure, will be a great one. One with the students, staff, and community at its heart, challenging minds and building character. I am honoured and delighted to be here to write this story with you and I look forward to seeing you around the school soon.