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What do you do when it all gets too hard? Do you start yelling at mum or dad? Do you fight with your brother or sister? Maybe you start to hit stuff or maybe you go quietly to your room and sit there, a little tear falling from the corner of your eye as you wait for it to be over? Maybe you end up playing peek-a-boo with your problem? You know, you cover your eyes, and pretend it doesn’t exist, only to open them to see it is still there?

The Bible has so much to say about what to do in hard times, and funnily enough – it doesn’t involve peek-a-boo, it doesn’t involve hitting stuff, or hiding away. The Bible says that when things are difficult you must stay focused on WHY, the reason you are doing what you are doing. In Corinthians it says to run the race as if to you want to win the prize. In Hebrews it says to throw off all the stuff that tangles us up and stops us and keep on running for the finish line. In Galatians it says to never stop doing good so we can get where God wants us to be and in Timothy it celebrates persisting. Paul says I have fought the good fight, finished the race and guarded my faith and now I will get the rewards in heaven! This sounds exhausting.

I think we know how Dory felt when she said, ‘just keep on swimming’! Especially when you just want to crawl up in bed, turn the light off, pull up the covers and just sleep it off!

When I was just married to Mrs Simmons we decided to go on a trip to Tasmania and Mrs Simmons really wanted to climb Cradle Mountain, the biggest mountain in Tasmania. Sounds great, right? The only problem was, I am reasonably afraid of really big heights, not so much the heights, but more falling off of them!

Anyway, we woke up early and began the climb. The first part was lovely, a beautiful lake, a slight climb, lovely views. It had snowed the night before, I knew the views from the top would be spectacular. So, I kept on climbing until we came to this one part. There was a very steep rock on front of us, on one side it was sheer cliff and going over this rock was the only way up. So, I did what any self-respecting man would do and let the ladies go first! Without flinching she just climbed up the rock! What! Now I had to. I was freaking out, what if I slipped! I didn’t want to be the one who stopped Mrs Simmons from getting to the top. Now, it just so happened that a very experienced climber, came past right at this moment and helped me up, yes it was a little embarrassing, but it meant I got to the top.

It was spectacular. There was snow and views all over Tasmania. I was ready to turn around because of one obstacle, or it was hard, or I was scared! I would have missed how good it was at the top. It was a great moment, and as a result it set me up for future victorious climbs. I still don’t like heights, but am I equipped with skills and experiences that will help me finish the climbs to get where I want to go.

I see the past couple of years a bit like climbing Cradle Mountain. It has been relentless, full of ups and downs, good times and bad times but in all these we have had to stay focused on reaching the summit, maintaining our focus and achieving our purpose. We cannot let the big rocks, like COVID or other hard times, stop us from achieving our dreams.

Like what happened to me on the hike, RCC students are privileged to be able to succeed and achieve because of the wonderful people around us who help us through the difficult by believing in us, running with us, fighting for us and protecting us.

Therefore, thank you to your parents who are always helping, always patient and always encouraging, and this year again, sometimes always teaching! Thank you parents!

Thank you also to our Board members: Mrs Strahan, Mr Hannaford, Mr Nunez, Mrs McErlane, Mr Edwards and Mrs McCarthy. These wonderful people invest so much time just to make sure we always keep the main thing, the main thing, so we can continue to grow into the school God wants us to be.

I also think your teachers and our admin staff are very special people! They continually seek to give their best so that you can have the best. Thank you so much for all that you have done this year to make sure that our students and their families always have access to excellent teaching and learning, here and at home. 

Whilst I am on this topic, I want to celebrate some of our teachers who are leaving us next year.

Mr Brown, I have never met someone more passionate about Science and spreadsheets. One of the first times I chatted with Mr Brown he was showing me how he had discovered an algorithm that could be used to create a picture of a face on Microsoft Excel. It is this passion for the subject, the passion to make an impact on your student’s lives and to instil in them a love of learning and life that we will miss. Thank you, Mr Brown. We pray God’s very best for you next year and are thankful you will be around still.

Mrs Cobb. Mrs Cobb is a very special human, she is so talented, committed and capable that it is easy to forget she is just one person. Mrs Cobb’s input in many areas of College life has always meant that we have become better. Mrs Cobb, your passion for excellence and ensuring your students always get the best will be missed. You are a blessing to us and I know you will be a blessing to Moree Christian School. We pray that as you go, God lights your path and continues to be your source and your hope so that you can share his life and love with your next class.

When I first met Mr Cobb, I was inspired and a little intimidated all at once. He is a man who is very wise and very passionate for God, the people and teaching. Whilst I am sad that our time of working with Mr Cobb is coming to an end, I am very excited for Moree Christian School’s gain. Mr Cobb, your love of God is infectious and true, your passion for the students to know God and His truth has and will lead them in paths of righteousness, and your wisdom and knowledge will set them up for success not just in what you teach but in the life you enable them to live. I pray, Mr Cobb, that you will know God’s goodness in the land of the living and that God will open the doors for His life and truth to be shared that you would be able to go and make disciples.

Last, but certainly not least, Mrs Miller. I have been reading a book about our need to always be faithfully present and be like Jesus to the people around us, we must care for them like Jesus does, listen to them like Jesus does, guide them like Jesus does and always stay true to what we believe, and the person Jesus has made us to be. Mrs Miller, this is why we thank you so much for your time at RCC. Whether you are relating to the students, the parents, the extra helpers who come in or the staff of RCC, you have shone the light of Christ consistently and uncompromisingly rather than running away when it is too hard. We thank you so much for leaving this legacy of excellence, persistence and passion that encourages us to continue to grow fearlessly into who God has made us to be.

I would also like to give a very special welcome to our staff who are beginning with us.

Primary School

We are very excited to welcome Ms Emma Noakes and Mrs Kimberly Schouten to our primary team for 2022. Ms Noakes is an experienced teacher from Maclean. She is passionate about Christian education and ensuring that every child is valued for who they are and understood so that they can learn well.

Mrs Schouten has worked in various schools in our local district and is very excited to join the RCC team. She brings with her a passion for helping every child to have fun and reach their God-given potential.

Mr Dawson will start in as the Kindy student learning support officer in 2022. We are excited to have Mrs Dawson bring even more care and opportunity into the Kindy classroom.

We also excitedly welcome Mrs Frost to the team as Head of Primary. Rebecca is a passionate, experienced educator who believes that Christian schools should seek to create a loving and nurturing Christian community characterised by grace and unity in Jesus Christ by holding high expectations of every student and their ability to grow and learn for life.

We are also very excited to welcome Mr McDonald and Mr Jelliffe to the high school.

Mr McDonald has already joined the high school with and is teaching a range of subjects including Geography and Stage 6 Business Studies, we are excited to see him work out of his passion to teach students truth and wisdom that leads to foundations of success.

Mr Jelliffe is our new Tech, IT, Science (and more) teacher. He values ensuring that each student is given the opportunity to learn well, be excellent and grow in maturity and wisdom.

Finally, today, I just want to share a little bit of RCC’s future with you, the view from the top of the RCC mountain. I would like to share with you some intentional design changes for 2022 that we believe will enable our students, families and staff to continue to grow to be our best for each other. In this way, we continue to maintain our focus on providing excellent education for our students.

I would like to start by sharing with you the new RCC school logo.

This new logo intentionally represents who we are and our passion for Christian education in Ballina. In this logo you will see the Cross that represents Christ’s sacrificial love for us, something we desire to share with our families and hope our students will live out for their community. You see the rivers of living water flowing through the shield that represents the abundant life we desire for our community. All this is surrounded by a shield of faith, something we believe that will protect and preserve our students in their world.

The motto: Identity. Purpose. Hope. Represents our passion for ensuring that our students have access to these foundational and formational truths of God in a world that sometimes seems to be doing its best to take these from our kids. An RCC education is committed to assisting students to gain a love of learning based on God’s Truth that will lead them to developing solid foundations of identity and purpose that lead to an enduring hope that enables them to positively impact the world around them.

The reason for the change was to celebrate and share with our community who we are and how we are growing with them; to represent our passion and desire for our student’s success.

The four lines the flow through this badge intentionally represent the foundations of an education at RCC that remains faithful to a biblically based, Christ centred, rigorous and relevant education:

  1. At RCC all students are valuable and deserve to be taught. They are created in God’s image and are capable of learning well. Therefore, every child deserves the grace and opportunity to be faithfully taught to learn well.
  2. At RCC all students possess unique experiences, abilities and motivations that influence how they learn well. Therefore, every student deserves to be understood, catered for and celebrated.
  3. At RCC all students learn well when they are safe, connected, and belong so they can have the courage to make the mistakes that lead to true learning. Therefore, every student deserves the opportunity to listen, to be heard, to be challenged, to fail and to succeed.
  4. At RCC we believe that excellent education is the innovative kindling of a flame (Socrates, c. 469-399 BCE), lighting of a fire (Yeats, 1865-1939) and teaching of one how to fish (Tzu, c. ~600 BCE) so that all students are students for a lifetime. Therefore, every student deserves the opportunity to contribute.

Through such foundations we believe we will enable every RCC graduate to successfully navigate their formational years so that they can emerge with solid foundations upon which they can successfully build a life that will positively impact their local, national and global communities.

Furthermore, this year we have all also been involved in the journey of intentionally positioning the school for accommodating the growth we are seeing so that we can achieve these goals for all the families who desire to be a part of and contribute to RCC culture.

Our 10 Year master plan that everyone contributed to allows for school growth but never at the cost of our culture. The plan includes a two-story building along the highway that has an indoor sports/arts stadium, new arts, science, and tech facilities, a new community hub and another outdoor/indoor basketball court.

There is space for a full-size soccer and touch fields and a new library or e-learning centre, it has a new Early Childhood Learning Centre, a dream for partially inclusive special education facilities all so we can truly provide for our community.

Whilst it won’t happen overnight, it will happen! We are hoping that stage one will begin in 2023, though there are plans (council pending) for works to being on a new and improved car park!

This is not about growth for growth’s sake. It is not about being bigger and better. It is not about the money. Over the past few years, we have grown 50% and there is more to come. These strategic and master plans for growth are based on recognising that this school is a wonderful place to be and a place where students and families can come and safely learn and grow. It is about maximising this opportunity for as many people as want to be a part of our community. Whilst this is our passion, we maintain that we will never grow at the cost of our culture. The safe community that you all contribute to, the place where you can be you and can express that through academia, sport, art or music, we will never compromise for growth. It is about providing for our students and our community; of this I can assure you. 

It is very easy to lose direction in a time of enduring crisis. Fear, panic, fatigue are all valid responses when difficulty and uncertainty won’t go away. Just like climbing a mountain that is too high!  However, by keeping our eyes fixed on God, by running the race and fighting the fight, by never giving up on doing good and getting rid of the stuff that slows us down, like fear, I believe that as a community of faith we will be able to provide the helping hand our students need to keep taking their next steps so they can reach their summit and enjoy the view!

Good tidings…

Jonno

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