On Thursday 31st of January, we welcomed our Year 1 – Year 12 students to their first day of school but for many of us, the planning started 2 weeks before as preparations were made for the year ahead.

  • Some of our youngest Yavnehrians had been participating in the holiday program at our ELC
  • Cleaners and builders were busy preparing the physical site at Elsternwick
  • Teachers and administrators began planning for the teaching and learning ahead
  • Staff members were involved in a professional learning program, reflecting on best practices in teaching and learning, and the strategies we are re-engaging with at Yavneh to get the very best from each one of our students.
  • The Jewish Studies Support Team held an induction day for students new to our school
  • The students in the musical had two intensive days of rehearsals
  • Our Year 12 students undertook a retreat at Monash University where they focused on preparing themselves for the year ahead.
  • Working with the new Heads of Seniors Years, the Careers Practitioner and our psychology team, the Year 12s immersed themselves in a range of wellbeing elements designed to support their motivation and encourage a strong focus on learning and preparation for the final examinations.

As busy and as productive as this period was, it was the first day of the academic year, when our students appeared at Elsternwick, that I felt the energy and excitement that makes working at Yavneh so special.

The first day at Yavneh was truly unique

This is the beginning of my third year as principal of Leibler Yavneh College and none of my previous schools opened the new year the way in which Yavneh students do.

Standing at the front gate on the first day is an absolute buzz. The Year 12 students smile and laugh, dance and sing to Israeli music and form a welcoming arch for our students to walk through. Our students, a little less extravert in their behaviour, are no less pleased to be part of the celebration of a new school year. Every student embraced the spirit of the occasion, no matter how young or shy, and the 28 new students who have joined our school this year, were captivated by the enthusiasm of the welcoming party. I also spoke to many smiling parents; smiling
because their children were walking through the school gates ready to return to school and smiling because the summer holidays had come to an end. This is a uniquely Yavnehrian experience as our students are genuinely happy about returning to school.

They feel a close connection to the College and after a long summer break, they want to be a part of the Yavneh family again. Our students are most fortunate as they are connected in many facets of their lives.

Our students have families to connect with, shuls to connect with and a school too. These connections reinforce our children’s sense of belonging, supporting the development of a healthy self-esteem. This strong sense of belonging is also particularly important when our children are navigating the adolescent years and are likely to have more questions than answers.
On Friday morning our Prep students began their school year. They seemed to take no time at all to settle into their new learning environment. I joined the students in Morah Sue’s class doing exercises under the big tree in front of the main school building and these students were also smiling
and laughing as they were taking deep breaths in their attempt to ‘blow’ Morah Sue over! This class certainly didn’t reflect the common depiction of
‘Preppies’ crying as they cling to their parent’s leg not wanting to let go.

On Friday after school I received the following email from the parents of a
new student:

“We would like to thank you for accepting our son to Leibler Yavneh College and for welcoming him so warmly this week. He has come home from school so happy each day. There is a very tangible atmosphere of inclusiveness, respect and warmth that pervades every aspect of the school. We look forward to working with you and to seeing our son flourish in this wonderful environment.”

At Yavneh, we provide a nurturing environment within our strong religious
framework, where students are prepared to make mistakes while stretching themselves in their learning. They are supported in facing the challenges involved in evolving friendships and moving social dynamics, and in developing the resilience needed to become happy and well adjusted adults.

Thank you to our staff, our parents and our students for making Yavneh such a special place to learn and to grow.

Cherylyn Skewes
Principal

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