Saturday 19th September 2020

Remembering Sydney 2000. 37/51. #LifeThisWeek. 74/2020.

Remembering Sydney 2000. 37/51. #LifeThisWeek. 74/2020.

  • I admit right up….I was a Sydney Olympics tragic.
  • I was ecstatic when we found out that “Sydernee” was announced as the host city for 2000 Olympics. This was in 1993 as I saw on the weekend news, after hearing of the (then) NSW Premier John Fahey ‘s death.
  • Did we think Sydney could do this?
  • I guess I was part of the group “yes we can”.

The selection of the grounds where the stadia would be built and surrounding ground, waterways, wetlands…of a former brickworks and other industries at Homebush was somewhat controversial. And had plenty of challenges to get completed. But it was and I can say without any qualms I was one very proud supporter! The Olympic torch relay around Australia was amazing. The day it came closer to home for us, I drove to watch it being passed on at Rooty Hill. Quite an emotional time.

At school we were lucky to have a torch bearer visit and “I” got to hold it.

 

By the time 2000 arrived, I had already become a school principal and schools got to get involved in many ways, including attendance at practice events and to have special days of celebrations. Free tickets to practice events meant I went to the gymnastics with my daughter and her eldest. She figures in photos below!

 

The end of term 3 school holidays were extended by a week so all the busses could come to Sydney and help transport people along with added trains and train lines. No private travel to the area was to happen. All tickets sold had a transport payment factored in.

 

I got the badge collection fever early, even linking up for new releases for ages. Over time, the badges were added to a framed memory board. And, I then donated it to a school library. I also had a fantastic framed photo of the Opening Night and donated that to a school down the track too. Many bits and pieces of memorabilia and my writing went into 2 huge scrapbooks…and do i have them now? No, again, donated I think along with above to the school where my daughter was teacher-librarian. I admit, to have these now would have been nice but they were cumbersome and I would hope be of greater value as a historical resource.

Onward:

Memories here: with photos I could actually find!

Dear granddaughter, who came with me to this ‘practice’ of looking at the grounds once they were built and developed and we could drive there. August 2000.

Outside the main stadium. 2000.

Noting the street names after Olympians.

Number Plates: still going strong. For our respective 50th Birthdays in 1999.

I still love these and they were special gifts to us from our family for our 50th birthdays!

And, always a very patriotic Grandma ensuring Miss 4 got the whole Olympic experience! 

Miss J, always happy to share her Grandma’s enthusiasm was delighted to be dressed up. Her younger sister and parents joined us at our place to watch the Opening Ceremony on our TV. What an experience, just from the telly. I will never forget the horses’ entry to the Man from Snowy River theme.

The three mascots are a duck-billed platypus (Syd), a kookaburra (Olly) and an echidna or spiny anteater (Millie). They symbolise the water, air and earth respectively. Their colours correspond to those of the Games emblem, and all three are typical examples of Australian fauna. source: wikipedia

We WENT to the Olympics!

After a lot of discussion and then knowing we had to get in quickly as tickets were balloted we secured ones to a morning of track and field. It was amazing to be up close..even though we had to wear our ponchos for a while. Some events were slowed down because of rain on the track, you can see it here in 2nd shot.

My husband & I went to the Athletics on a wet day. No worries

 

Our seats were amazing. Almost on the track!

 

The wonder of how Sydney was then! Amazing co-operation and fun all round. 

Lots of smiling and chatting people on the busses to and from the Olympics. We parked our car on a field (now covered in buildings) at Bella Vista, just over the road from Glenwood and busses took us straight to the gate.

We got to see international athletes in OUR time zone. However, I do believe some events were staged at particular times to allow for northern hemisphere news.

I got to attend practice events: free. We attended one big day and tickets were reasonable cost and we had to apply by ballot. I also got tickets to the Paralympics and my then son-in-law came with me along with granddaughter as above.

One big standout memory for me, was standing up with my family to sing Advance Australia Fair as an Aussie won her event at the Paralympics.

My mother was a hockey representative in her youth and a very keen follower of most sports. My brother got tickets for him and Mum to see, I think a women’s hockey semi or final. Mum was blown away!

Great signage and organisation. A lot of walking but it was all OK.

So much detail here: blurry. However, some areas like these had TV people telecasting. Solar panels on top of the pylons.

AND, “where were you when Cathy Freeman won gold?”.

I saw the event on a TV at the local doctors’ surgery! I don’t remember why I was there but I do remember the elation and event.

This post goes live AFTER the first airing of this below. However, I will watch on iView and hope you may as well. It’s a special event AND memory of the Sydney Olympics.

https://help.abc.net.au/hc/en-us/articles/360001745615-ABC-is-proud-to-present-the-world-premiere-of-FREEMAN-in-September-Relive-the-magic-of-the-Olympic-Gold-medal-win-that-united-the-nation-

Source: pinterest 66c6cb3bd663ac5e77c9388d0b6b990b.jpg

What memories do you have of the Sydney Olympics?

Did you attend?

How old were you at the time of the Sydney Olympics? I was 50.

If you viewed from another state or country, what are your memories?

Were you part of any of the ceremonies?

Tell us more!

Denyse.

Link Up #206

Life This Week. Link Up #206

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6/51 #LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Chapter Thirteen. 1999-2000.11/2020.

6/51 #LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Chapter Thirteen. 1999-2000.11/2020.

The story behind Telling My Story is this: I began in May 2017 and then was diagnosed with cancer. I had a lengthy break and returned to the plan to keep on documenting my life, one blog post at a time. Here is the link to the page where they all are now. It’s been a while since my last one. This one, I admit, is not a brand new one. In fact I wrote back in 2018 over 4 weeks about the challenges and more of being a principal from 1998 – 2003. This post has much of the first two years in it, and the next one, which I will post for Life This Week 8/51 will conclude that part of my professional education leadership life. 

1998.

I really enjoyed being a K-6 School Principal. I had waited till my late 40s to decide to ‘take the plunge’ and actively seek a principal’s role in a K-6 school in Sydney’s west. Having been a relieving Principal in a school where I had been a Deputy Principal I knew that I did not want to apply for that role as I had been at that school for almost 10 years. This was a much longer period than I usually stayed in one school and family reasons were part of this but I knew that to lead that school was fraught with trying to placate factions and being in conflict ethically with the old-fashioned and out-moded forms of discipline.

My Primary School. Attended 1960-61 is where I decided I wanted to be a teacher.

In the lead up to the end of the 1990s I was asked to relieve as a Principal is a larger school within the Western Sydney environment I knew well. This school already had a leadership team including Deputy Principals but it was the wish of the out-going (Long Service Leave first!) Principal that someone from out of the school be appointed. That was me.

What a baptism of fire this was!

Whilst I knew the general area, I was not knowledgable at all about the make-up of the student population – which was well into the 600s. I was to lead that school for Terms 3 and 4 when a principal would be appointed. There were special needs classes, there were children of high needs (intellectual and behavioural) in mainstream classes. Fortunately, it came with a non-teaching Deputy, who helped bring me up to speed with every new challenge including:

  • chasing a boy who was ready to jump the low fence and run onto the road. He stopped. In the playground.
  • finding another boy climbing to the roof of a building to escape the problem he had being in class.
  • having a mother of a girl scream at me over the desk “what are YOU going to DO ABOUT this, YOU”RE the PRINCIPAL”

“I really do not want to be a Principal” I said after a very hectic Term 3 leading into Term 4…but then again..

” the old death bed regret” popped into my mind.

“Did I want to think I should have given the principalship a go but I did not?”

Answer: NO.and this…

As the last Term of 1998 progressed, unless I did decide to start applying for Principal’s roles, I had this ultimatum delivered.

As a Deputy Principal who had needed to leave her original school (the 10 year one) because the school student population  was slowing and there was no longer a DP position, I had to accept any position as a DP and guess where I was appointed: to the school where I was currently Relieving Principal. 

Oh. No, I thought that was untenable and also once I knew who the new boss would be in the following year my hand was forced – in a way. So it was out with the application templates and late nights writing and honing these to match K-6 School Principals roles that I might fit.

It All Takes Time.

Back then, applications for Principal  were sent into the District Office for the Superintendent to look over with his/her panel of selectors. These were a parent from the school which was seeking a new principal, a staff member from that school, a principal of similar status as the role on offer and the Superintendent. If the application met with the panel’s approval, professional referees (nominated on the application) were called, and then if the panel thought they wanted to know more, then the applicant was invited to a formal interview.

I went through this process over some weeks for a total of four times and got to interview but not the role. I was also still leading a school! I did get positive and helpful feedback particularly by one District Superintendent By the second last week of Term 4 I thought I was not going to get a Principal’s job but that was not true and within 2 days of school ending for Term 4, I was offered and I accepted the role of K-6 Principal in my own right.

Appointed As Principal.

The District Superintendent rang me to offer the position and of course I accepted it. Being so close to the end of the year, I could not visit the school until close to the end of the January holidays.

The words that rang in my ear, and were written to me by the District Superintendent echoed…and not nearly as much as in future years.

“Denyse, you have to bring this school into the next century and I know you are the one to do it. It won’t be easy and it will have challenges but you are the right fit for this”.

And of course, Life Goes On, in the family! We were looking forward to the birth of Grandchild #2 in the May of 1999 and by this appointment, I remember telling my daughter “I don’t think I will be able to have part-weeks off to care for him/her”. My daughter understood, and already had an amazing family day care arrangement. I admit my “Grandma” hat was firmly back on my head – with the blessing of my boss, the one who had appointed me and my staff when she, new GD was literally on the way, I was able to have the week off school to help out and BE Grandma. That time meant a great deal.

With my GD some years later!

1999 First Year as a Principal.

The first months.

Hot, No Plan, Making Plans, Learning About the School.

I was busy learning about the school and the fact that the person I replaced had actually died the previous term without anyone at the school having access to school keys, passwords and the like made it more difficult. The school was a medium sized (around 450 kids from K-6) one with added Unit for Students with Special Learning Needs and an Autism Satellite class. Within the stream of classes there were two “OC” groups: Year 5 of 30 students and Year 6. These students gained their place at the school via competitive examinations the year before.

The school culture was, as my boss told me, one I would need to lead into the 21st century and I knew that but I also knew to hasten slowly on some changes whilst making some practical ones quickly. The previous principal, sadly departed, had been there for quite some time, shared very little in terms of financial goals for the school but, as a local which I was not, whatever he had done was acceptable. One big ticket item that happened under his leadership was a sports area which catered for a number of court-based sports.

One of my first spends was blinds. In a school with a second storey and in a very hot/cold place in outer Sydney, some respite from the sun and to make activities such as work via a whiteboard or screen effective this was vital. Once done it gave the school, from the inside and out, a better appearance for the community.

The school was fully staffed with each role filled: 2 Assistant Principals (teaching) 2 Executive Teachers (teaching). There was a group of speciality teachers: for Gifted and Talented students, Special Needs – Intellectual, English as a Second Language, Computer and Technology, Special Learning in Mainstream. I had been familiar with leading each of those roles in my previous schools with three  ‘new’ to me

  • having the O.C. classes
  • overseeing the use of the school’s facilities with an outside the NSW Dept of Ed jurisdiction
  • supervising a Special Needs Unit of 3 staff within the school

I like to think, looking back from now, that I did all I could to both understand, accept and get up-skilled quickly to enable me, the educational leader of the school, to best meet the needs of those students, also considering the skills of their teachers and to see that the parents of the students knew the children’s needs were paramount.

That of course, was also integral to my oversight and management of the remainder of the school in the mainstream classes.

There were computers for my work and communication via emails did not arrive for a few years. It was a telephone, fax and mail school and being on the outskirts of Sydney the communication and responses were not as frequent as the suburbs of Sydney.

The year went well with ME being the major learner of course. I was the ONLY new staff member but I also had to ensure that MY leadership goals were part of the new school’s as well. There was a lot of policy discussion which was mostly related to why there were none where I was used to having these done. Like I have said before, I was there to make change but I also needed to handle matters carefully.

This year I turned 50 and on the staff was another person my age and I recall a joint celebration with two cakes. We did socialise somewhat during the school term with a restaurant meal or something similar with staff. We had regular morning teas and I promoted collegiality and support for all staff.

My executive staff were good but two of them sought promotion – one to a country school, the other to a city school and of course I was pleased for them professionally when their  work was rewarded with what they sought. I recall an incident which was a critical one as it demonstrated a lack of foresight, organisation and care from one of the senior staff. This related to a student being announced at the final year assembly as Vice-Captain, when in fact, she was to be a prefect, and another student was the Vice-Captain. In an embarrassing time for the student, her family and the senior staff I had to interrupt the announcement with the correct person’s name. From that time, I was aware of more loopholes within the school’s management. Policies for example. In a first for this executive staff, there needed to be a written policy on the how, what and why of student leadership nominations, voting and results. From my side, it looked quite poorly scrutinised and certainly that family of the student who was incorrectly announced as vice-captain continued to let me know of their upset long after that incident. No apology in the world was good enough.

Onward into 2000 & beyond.

There were some staff changes into this year of the Sydney Olympics and I had to call panels of parent representative, school representative and one other teacher to enable me to interview, by merit selection, 2 people to replace those who had been promoted. More on this in the third post next week.

The education communities in and near Sydney loved the fact that this was the year of the Sydney Olympics and we even had an extra week off school in September 2000 for all of the available transport (buses mostly) to be geared to getting people to and from Olympic venues. A person who had carried a torch in part of the area near the school brought it to us and we all got to hold it. We had special days and the vibe was good. We even made our Staff Photo that year based on Sports and the Olympics.

I had some lovely people working at the school in administration and I know my mantra (from my boss) of keeping on heading into this famous 21st century was embraced but it remained a load on me as the school leader both administratively and educationally. There were courses in finance and human resources to attend and of course ones to train us further in Child Protection.

This became even more important as time went on, and I recall sitting at yet another training course thinking “I am responsible for all of this yet I have no control over it”. It was quite a  watershed moment for me.

I loved the role even so. I felt I brought action and innovation to the school and lifted its place in educational areas. I may not have been a local in a very conservative area but I did my best to keep open and good relationships with the local community, my Parent groups and the community of schools nearby.

At home, I know I really never switched off. The laptop came home with me. Newsletters written by me on the weekend. There was no email or other communications like that until 2002 so everything was done and then printed off for the families each fortnight. I improved more of the external appearance with signage and keeping areas safer by removal of damaged play equipment. I had a General Assistant 3 days a week and because of the size of the school grounds, he spent most of his time on a mower.

I had to organise school repairs and more via private contractors and be savvy enough to know how to ask for quotes and then to see how the school might benefit and when to get those happening in a child-free time. I would be phoned at home in school holidays about staffing and maintenance and there was/is not a time-off for school principals.

In re-reading this I recall much of it. It has stayed as a very strong memory, being principal of R.P.S. I did have some amazing opportunities and one was being a community member for the local (new then) gaol in the area and contributing to ideas and supporting the warden in his role. I was the district principal  representative for Stewart House, the N.S.W. Public Schools charity supporting needy children to have a break from home by the sea. I do know I missed a lot of ‘family time’ because of the nature of the role and my school was about 40 minutes from home but I was (still am) a passionate educator!

Stewart House: South Curl Curl.

Next time: 2001 and 2002. The Way My Career as a N.S.W. School Principal Ended.

I know there is a lot that’s been said (and I hope read) but it’s such a pivotal part of my life (then) and even now. I needed to share it as I have.

Thank you.

Denyse.

Link Up #175

 

Link Up #175. Life This Week.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week!

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice.

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Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 7/51 Self-Care Stories 17.2.2020

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