Altruism in practice

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At Abbotsleigh, we have a culture of giving, of being outwardly focused, and a desire to help our girls understand the opportunities that abound and responsibilities that are inherent when contributing to a fully functioning community. This is especially so when we consider just how fortunate our girls and our families are in the main. 

The Infants girls have been learning about the physical environment and how they can play their small part in looking after the playground. To build a sense of connection, ownership and responsibility within the girls towards their environment, we recently profiled our wonderful Groundsman, Mr Howard Field, in Infants and Primary assemblies. Girls learnt some interesting facts about Mr Field – though they were mostly fascinated by the fact that his surname is so fitting for his 'field' of work! We hope that raising awareness of Mr Field and his work, and highlighting the important role that he plays in maintaining the Junior School grounds, will encourage the girls to show greater care and respect for their physical environment.

Year 4 girls lead the charge this week in raising funds for St Lucy’s through our ‘Week Without Words’ Campaign. The girls sold bouncy balls, pens, mouse pads and communication cards across the Junior School. We prayed using the silent prayer in Chapel. Today, we felt the real implications of having to communicate without the use of our words throughout morning tea. Sign and body language, the use of whiteboards and kind actions were used to communicate our intent. 

Our girls took service out into the community by participating in the annual Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal. We are grateful to The Rotary Club of Wahroonga that also demonstrated community service by providing refreshments to our girls when they returned to school. We are  pleased to report that, together with the collection from the Senior School, we raised $11,000 for this worthy charity.

At the end of the year, the girls will have the opportunity to participate in the end of year 'a-thon'. This year we are exploring the possibility of having a 'vocab-a-thon' to broaden and enhance the girls' vocabulary, while also raising important funds for St Jude's in Tanzania. Last year we raised a staggering $19,000 from the Fact-a-thon as we honed our mathematical skills. 

Yet even when we consider how we can contribute to schools in developing countries, it does not always have to be through financial donations. At the end of 2017, a number of Junior School teachers willingly had their teaching practice filmed for the purpose of providing training aids for teachers in Uganda through the School for Life Foundation. We know that the quality of teachers is fundamental to children's learning journeys. Allowing video cameras into our classrooms was a small way for us, as staff, to share our practice with teachers in Uganda who do not have access to the professional development opportunities that we have in Australia. We also recently hosted School for Life's Director of Schools, Janepher Nansubuga, who was visiting from Uganda. Janepher visited classrooms to see learning in action and to take ideas back to her staff in Uganda.

Our Year 5 students have developed connections and meaningful relationships with members of our aged community, and will visit their 'adopted grandparents' for a second time later this term. 
Across the Junior School, we are currently driving Anglicare's Winter Appeal. There is a 'truckload' of warm clothing mounting in Reception ready to be donated to people in need.

If we count the ways in which we give and keep score to ensure that each offering is repaid in full, it is very easy to develop a negative mindset and a sense of entitlement. Learning altruism, demonstrating genuine acts of kindness and showing care and compassion are crucial in building emotional wellbeing.  

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