Last night Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW) celebrated their annual Welcome Dinner for new staff, across two inspiring simultaneous COVID safe events, located in Wollongong and Campbelltown. Over 185 guests were in attendance as new staff were warmly welcomed into our remarkable system of schools.
At the Wollongong event, Team Leader of CEDoW’s Leadership and Professional Growth Team, Neil McCann, welcomed staff, including Director of Schools, Peter Hill; CEDoW Heads of Service; teachers; school support officers; aboriginal education assistants; religious education coordinators; principals and Catholic Education Office personnel. While in Campbelltown, Carolyn Hadley, Head of Human Resource Services, welcomed Bishop Brian Mascord and other guests from the Macarthur area.
“It’s wonderful to sense the energy in the room tonight for yet another Welcome Dinner. As you may know, it was a late decision to be able to hold this dinner as we anxiously awaited COVID restrictions updates,” Mr McCann told guests. “As we consider it very important to formally welcome those new to our diocese, we have the pandemic-generated circumstances of having two events occurring across the two sites.”
Mr McCann said the large number of new staff to the diocese is a great sign of CEDoW’s growth as a system of schools. “The significant number of guests this year is triple the 59 attendees we had some 11 years ago. It’s our privilege to hold this function and it’s our aim to give you a chance to relax and to enjoy a meal together, meet a few other people and just debrief on the first few weeks in your roles.”
Our Lady Help of Christians Rosemeadow teacher, Hayley Gabrio, said of the occasion, “What a great way to make new people feel welcomed. I really appreciate the generosity and inclusion coming into my first professional role in education. As an early career teacher, I found last night’s event very beneficial to be able to network with experienced and other early career teachers alike."
Reflecting on his years as a young beginning teacher at the Campbelltown event, Director of Schools, Mr Hill, spoke of the overwhelming feeling of responsibility and inadequacy.
“Holding back change is like trying to hold back the seasons, but one thing that remains unchanged in the classroom is the relationship between learner and teacher and fortunately we are now more receptive to the voices of the young people in our schools than ever before.”
During his address, Mr Hill acknowledged the important job of guiding students in the diocese. “I’m greatly encouraged by the people serving our students. I don't think we can go too wrong if we respond to the signs of the times in Catholic education by asking questions and listening well, staying open to all, moving with humility, sharing our own vulnerability and remembering at all times that love never fails and God’s love excludes nobody,” he said.
Mr Hill wished staff every success for this school year. “I hope that you will be inspired to nurture your own commitment to Catholic education, to trust in the wisdom of our Catholic worldview, and to keep asking the hard questions about how we can improve—because the quality of our efforts will reflect the quality of the questions we ask.”