Catholic School Parents WA (CSPWA) annual Awards of Excellence held on Friday 11 August was more than a celebration of the shared achievements of school leaders, parents and teachers in Catholic schools across WA.
Exemplifying the theme of this year’s Awards, ‘Building Positive Catholic School Communities’ it was evening of camaraderie and connection for more than 105 guests who came together to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of parents, school leaders and staff.
Addressing guests in her welcome message, CSPWA Executive Director, Siobhan Allen, recognised the dedication of parents who make the choice to send their children to a Catholic school, “then contribute to making that school the best it can be.”
She also commended the principals who attended alongside the parent nominees, acknowledging the importance of parent / school relationships in creating welcoming communities where all children are supported and have a sense of belonging.
“The Catholic school community today is often the first real experience of community that families encounter,” Ms Allen said.
“Therefore, it is incumbent on us to ensure that our communities are welcoming and inclusive, and that as parents we accompany one another along the path of our children’s educational journey,” she said.
“…St Mary McKillop said we must teach more by example than by word and so volunteering in your school and parish communities is first and foremost a gift to your children. I feel sure if I asked for a show of hands here tonight, most if not all of you had parents who also volunteered in some way. Through our actions of volunteering, we are demonstrating to our children the power of contributing to the common good. Just remember that the next time you are organising the school fete or the disco or other events that take up your time and energy,” she continued.
The winners of the five Awards categories received certificates and prize money to contribute to future projects in their schools.
These recipients were selected for providing exemplary leadership by worked collaboratively with their school’s community to promote social initiatives and provide networking opportunities at school, with the aim of encouraging a positive, collaborative, engaging and connected environment.
Winners of the CSPWA awards were:
Parent Group – Holy Cross Carer’s Collective.
Individual Parent – Sofia Letto Conti.
Principal – Angela Hegney, Our Lady of Lourdes Dardenup.
Parish – St Lawrence Parish, Geraldton.
Agnes Weymouth Award – Rachael Langdon, Emmaus Catholic Primary School.
In delivering her message, Catholic Education Western Australia Executive Director, Dr Debra Sayce, spoke about the important role that parents and families play in the life of Catholic schools.
“We know that one of the unique attributes of a Catholic education is the value placed on the partnership between schools and families,” Dr Sayce said.
“This is underpinned by an understanding that parents are the first and most important educators of their children.
“And, that parents choose a Catholic school to partner with them in developing their children as good, Christian citizens who have been supported to discover their unique gifts and talents,” she said.
Dr Sayce continued by saying this sign of a thriving Catholic school is the sense of belonging and community that is shared between school leaders, teachers, parents and the broader community.
“As communities of faith, parents play an active role in nurturing and strengthening the Catholic culture in our schools,” Dr Sayce said.
“Particularly through Parent and Friend associations, parents so generously contribute their skills, their expertise and most importantly, their time, in a meaningful and structured way to help shape the future of their child’s school.
“‘When parents and school leaders are working together, schools become welcoming and inclusive hubs for their communities. And tonight’s awards are a celebration of that strong relationship between parents and schools. You are here because you have given your time to ensure your school serves its mission to provide an affordable, Christ-centred and child-focused education in WA.’
Echoing similar sentiments, Catholic Education Commission of WA (CECWA) Chair, Ms Eva Skira acknowledged the right of parents to choose the best school for their children.
“As demand for Catholic education is expected to increase in coming years, it is a priority for CECWA to consider how our system of schools will continue to grow and develop to meet the needs of current and future students right across WA,” Ms Skira said.
“And, that we ensure that future generations are also able to choose a Catholic education for their children.
“Acknowledging that parents do have a choice in their children’s education, if Catholic education is to continue thriving in an increasingly secular world, we need to be listening to parents, listening to our communities, and meeting the needs of students and their families.
“Your voices, as parents, are immensely important; and your role in supporting your children’s school is valued and significantly contributes to the mission of Catholic education,” she said.