Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School

Mr Jeff Symms

TSS Foundation Business Breakfast

On Thursday  morning this week I was honoured to join our Preparatory School Physical Education Department staff at the final Foundation Business Breakfast for 2019.   These are always terrific events with the funds raised being used to support the school’s indigenous education program, helping indigenous boys access an education at TSS which for many has been life-changing.  The guest speakers at each event are always interesting and often inspiring, which was the case for the breakfast this week.

Guest speaker Curtis McGrath, OAM told the story of the life-changing day, when on deployment in Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device taking off both his legs from the knee.  Whilst his story of the incident itself was quite harrowing, yet incredible with regard to the actions taken by all of the soldiers involved, it was his story of optimism and hope that was really inspiring.   His simple message was ask ‘What Now? not ‘What If?’.    ‘What if?’ focusses on the past and keeps us connected to negative feelings of what we might have been able to change, while ‘What Next?’ helps us accept the reality of the situation we are in, good or bad, and lets us set some goals for moving forward.

When the bomb first exploded, the aftermath was one of action – as the designated first aid officer, Curtis found himself in the dreadful position of having to talk his mates through his required medical treatment in order to save his own life.  In the chaos and emotion of this moment, it is hard to imagine how he, and his mates, kept their nerve and did what had to be done.   But during this time, his mind was full and busy and the sense of moving forward through action was positive in its own way.  While waiting for the helicopter that would take him to the base hospital, he had nothing to do buy lie and wait.   In was in this period of inactivity, thinking about the ‘what if?, that opened the door to doubt, to the thoughts that he might not survive.

His message of ‘What next?’ is one of action.  Looking at options and forming a plan to move forward.  Inaction, standing still, creates negative space and we ponder on the ‘What if?’, negative thinking.

We work with the boys on this mindset at TSS Prep.  Their bounceback program tells them that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  To look forward with a plan.  Don’t engage in negative thought.

Research tells us that a positive mindset, can make a huge difference in how we are able to cope and manage difficulties, and of course, this speaks to a child’s resilience.  The more resilient a child is, the more able they are to cope when things are tough.

Some months back I wrote about ‘resiliency robbers’, the things parents might be doing to take away their child’s resiliency. Given the story I head from Curtis about his amazing resiliency, I thought it might be worth a quick recap.

Resiliency Robbers

  1. Fighting your child’s battles for them.
  2. Making their problem, your problem.
  3. Giving your child too  much ‘voice’.
  4. Placing unrealistic pressure on them to perform.
  5. Letting your child give up too quickly.
  6. Rescuing them from situations that may challenge them.

GPS Athletics Success

Congratulations to our Junior GPS Athletics team and coaches for an excellent result at the annual Junior GPS Athletics Carnival conducted last Thursday.  After a re-invigorated training schedule for the boys and the inclusion of extra quality coaching, our boys were able to record our highest placing for many years – finishing in 4th place.   This is a terrific outcome for the boys and I congratulate them on their dedication to training and their spirit on the day.

The team consisted of:-

Jack Manton

Sam Drew

William Chen

Henry Jackson

Peter Sa

Edward Wallace

Hunter Kemm

Kaelan Drysdale

Leo Llewellyn

Jack Stapleton

Jack Ahearn

Harrison Howard

William Jackson

Lachlan Crain

Austin Lees

Jack Ahearn

Hudson Sheehan

Tristan Wilkie

Heanan Smith

Oscar Yared

Claude Chabert

Reggie Madden

Will Krynen

Nicholas Noble

Jack Beeton

Oscar Eddy

Jack Gallie

Craig Russell

Max Gallie

Eshan Singh

Important dates for Term 4

Mark you calendar with the following important dates, you don’t want to miss out!

  • Sunday 17 November           Friends of Prep Christmas Carols.
  • Friday 22 November            Presentation Assembly Yr 3-6 12.00pm
  • Monday 25 November         Preschool Christmas Concert   10.00am
  • Tuesday 26 November        Reception to Year 2 Celebration of Achievement.  9.00am
  • Wednesday 27 November  Year 3 – 6 Celebration of Achievement.  9.00 am    Year 6 Gradual Service.  6.30pm St Alban’s Chapel
  • Thursday 28 November     R-6  Christmas Chapel service  9am .    Year 6 Final Assembly and Honour Guard.  1.oo pm

Class requests

At this time of the year the pervading myth starts circulating:-  that parents write to Mr Symms to request a particular class or teacher.

My position on this has always been the same.  I cannot accept requests for particular teachers as the process of compiling the classes is quite complex and the teachers spend a great deal of time putting together class groups that will have a workable dynamic and are balanced across the academic and social/emotional spheres.  It is simply not possible to accept these sort of requests.

Having said that there may be a few genuine cases where there is significant information that can be helpful when putting the classes together and in those few cases, parents must email or write to me by Monday, November 11.

The truth of the situation is that in any given year I would receive fewer than 10 requests.  Parents at TSS understand that the teachers do know their students and will make insightful decisions regarding their placement for the following year.  Please trust their professional judgement.

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