There was mingling, laughter and unexpected gifts, as over 190 guests gathered on 28 February at Villa D’oro Function Centre for a dinner to welcome new staff into Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW).
Each year, newly appointed staff attend the dinner together with their principals, including leadership team members, early career and experienced teachers, support staff and CEO officers.
CEDoW’s Head of Human Resource Services Carolyn Hadley emceed the event and commenced the evening by welcoming new staff. “We’re so pleased to have you here, our VIP special guests,” she said. “This dinner is very important and dear to our hearts. It’s wonderful to see the energy in the room tonight.
“The significant number of new staff in attendance is a great sign of our growth as a system of schools. It’s our privilege to hold this dinner and our aim is to give you a chance to relax, enjoy a meal together and debrief about the first few weeks in your new roles.”
Attending the celebration were distinguished guests that included the Bishop of Wollongong, Most Rev Brian Mascord; members of the CEDoW Leadership Team; Valerie Jones from the Independent Education Union and Jay McCann, Director of EduCom IT.
The dinner began with an Acknowledgement of Country given by early career teacher and proud Aboriginal woman, Danielle Grados, and an opening prayer led by Ken Bryant, CEDoW’s Head of Service, Catholic Life, Education and Mission.
In his address, Bishop Brian offered words of encouragement and reminded our educators of the shared motivation that led them to teaching in Catholic education.
“We work for the Catholic Church in the ministry of education,” he said. “We’re called to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If we don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, then living, working and ministering in the Catholic Church is going to be really hard.”
Bishop Brian spoke about the importance of authenticity, especially in forming relationships with young people. “They know when we’re authentic and when we’re not,” he said. “We’ve got to see the young people entrusted into our care not as something of the future but rather of the now. For those of you who’ve joined the Diocese, congratulations and welcome. It’s great to have you on board.”
During the event, CEDoW Director of Schools, Peter Turner, acknowledged the “big job” of guiding over 20,000 students in the Diocese. As he explained, “There is no more profoundly important or noble calling than this.”
He also spoke of the most significant factor in any school - the commitment to quality relationships. “For me, the fundamental importance of respectful and life-giving teacher-student learning relationships is essential and undeniable,” he said.
“Like never before, our young people need teachers and advocates who are women and men of hope, enthusiasm and life. That is the underlying call for the schools of our Diocese.” – Peter Turner, Director of Schools
Mr Turner's advice to new teachers: commit to a learning culture of high expectation, motivation and challenge through their daily focus. Also, to centre their work rely on the principles of integrity, compassion, justice and hope. And, as educators, to always remember the ‘why’ at the heart of their work.
St Justin's, Oran Park teacher, Chloe-Jane Tweedie, said of the occasion, “What a great way to make new people feel welcomed and a part of the CEDoW family. As an early career teacher, I can already feel the support from such beautiful people at the Catholic Education Office. I’m very excited to begin my career as a primary teacher in such a welcoming, caring and encouraging Diocese."
Concluding the evening, a ‘golden ticket’ saw two new staff – Kelsie Hawkesby from Corpus Christi, Oak Flats and Jade Weaver from St Francis, Edmondson Park – as fortunate recipients of new Apple iPads generously donated by EduCom IT.
While not all guests walked away with an Apple iPad, they each received a gift of an apple shaped cookie to remind them how valued they are in all they do for our young people – leading the way with hope, enthusiasm and life.
CEDoW wishes each new staff member every success for the school year and looks forward to supporting and encouraging them in their ministry.