The importance of teaching the student, not the class.

Year 3 student Tom Symons shows Principal Regina Goodridge his work on his personal chromebook. Also pictured are Riley Pizzi, Grace Bradshaw and Sophia Goodridge.
Year 3 student Tom Symons shows Principal Regina Goodridge his work on his personal chromebook. Also pictured are Riley Pizzi, Grace Bradshaw and Sophia Goodridge.

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When it comes to educating our children, there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. Each child is different. As such, they need a learning program that is tailored to them. Not the other way around.

Few people know this better than St Joseph’s Parish School principal Regina Goodridge. As an educator of more than 20 years she’s seen many innovations in the way we teach and believes it is essential to stay up to date with the latest research.  

That’s why her and her staff have worked hand in glove with educational experts both domestically and overseas to develop and implement strategies that help each student achieve to their highest potential. 

“It’s about catering for the individual needs of our students,” Mrs Goodridge explained.

“We have individual learning plans for each child regardless of which end of the (educational) spectrum they’re at. So, we have some students with learning disabilities that require a little bit more attention but we also have other students that require extension. We cater for all of them.” 

St Joseph’s is not your average primary school. It only has 29 pupils, which gives the school the opportunity to focus more intensively on the individual. They also use every resource at their disposal to engage the children on their level. 

Kindergarten student Nellie Goodridge participating in her first school Athletics Carnival.

Kindergarten student Nellie Goodridge participating in her first school Athletics Carnival.

The contemporary classrooms are fitted with flexible learning furniture; they use open ended inquiry based lesson plans; and employ greater integration of technology, including using smart boards and providing each child with a chrome book.

They also focus heavily on the cognitive innovation subjects of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and their staff are constantly undergoing professional development to help them more effectively communicate with the kids. 

Perhaps most importantly though, the school uses evidence based data to continuously assess and monitor the progress of each individual child. This allows the teachers to be see exactly where their students are at compared to where they need to be. It also helps staff to more accurately assess progress on a one on one basis. In other words, they’re focusing on the real-world development of the child instead of looking at statistics and group averages from periodic standardised testing.

A good example of how this is put into practice, Mrs Goodridge says, is the school’s math program, where they divide the children up into skill groups instead of age brackets. So, if you’ve got a student in Year 3 that is struggling with the basics, it allows them extra time to really get the fundamentals down pat rather than being pushed forward into more complex work they don’t fully understand, causing them to fall behind.

Conversely, she explained, if you have a gifted child or one that is mathematically minded and finds the work for their age group too easy, you can advance them so as not to slow their progress, which can happen when children become bored or inattentive.

2018 Kindergarten students Lillyanah Pearce, Nellie Goodridge, Sabrina-Pearl Ferguson and Ginger Gleeson on their first day of school.

2018 Kindergarten students Lillyanah Pearce, Nellie Goodridge, Sabrina-Pearl Ferguson and Ginger Gleeson on their first day of school.

“(As a school) we're constantly changing because education is changing. We can’t just keep doing what we did yesterday. We need to think about the future for our 21st century learners,” she said. 

“We have students that are going to be working in jobs that probably haven’t even been invented yet. So, we need to teach our students how to communicate and be critical thinkers. They need to know how to not only collaborate but also work independently and be self-driven. We need to empower our students with a growth mindset.”

At the end of the day however, one of the most important factors in a child’s education is always going to be their parents. That’s why the Peak Hill school works hard to develop relationships with every parent and forge strong partnerships. 

Being a Catholic School their ethos is highly family orientated, Mrs Goodridge says, and they pride themselves on their diversity and inclusiveness. 

“One of the main Catholic principles we teach our children is to treat others the way they would like to be treated,” Mrs Goodridge said. 

St Joseph’s is currently accepting new enrollments for 2019. The school will be holding an information session at 10am next Monday, July 30. They will also be starting their “Jump into Joeys” transition for 2019 Kindy Kids on Wednesday, August 29.

Enrollments close Friday, August 10. For more information call 6869 1452.

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