Building Community

Building Community

Thursday, 20 August 2015  | Alistair - MP Cluster Leader
When talking to staff, parents and past students, a common description of MECS is ‘a community’. As a title that is wonderful, but what does a good community look like? We can often find it easier to experience community rather than describe what it is. When describing it, we use examples from our daily lives such as sports teams, families or church. But to capture the right words I turned to those who are always a sure source of simple wisdom: 9 year olds.

When asked what made a good community, they described it in these ways:

“A good community is where you feel accepted for being an individual”
“…where everyone has an important role to play”
“A good community is where you can cry together, mourn together and be ok feeling sad because you have others there to hold you up”
“A good community is like a family who love each other even if they are arguing”.

These ideas were shared in a circle time we held as a class when planning our GT on ‘Community’. The students went on to perform in a play showing examples of this, creating artwork and poetry encapsulating the idea and writing a personal reflection. Each of these were showcased in a class-led GT to the rest of the Primary school. It was as I was sitting in this GT that I was reminded of the blessing it is to be part of the community of MECS - a place where community is demonstrated at every level of the school; where we see God-given individuality celebrated, heart-felt partnerships between parent and teacher in shaping a young person’s life, MECS members upholding each other in times of sadness and celebrating together.

At this school though, we are not naïve enough to think that Community comes naturally; rather it must be worked at, built and nurtured. MECS actively does this and I see this happening in four ways:
Relationships – Fundamentally, no community survives without relationships. God created us to be in relationship with Him and one another and so, in our classes this is imitated. Similarly, teachers and staff members see their role in the context of a right relationship with each other and our students. This perspective impacts how we deal with discipline, when parents and teachers meet together, in our circle times and even our Year 12s buddying with the Prep students. Relationships are at the heart of what, how and why we teach at MECS.

Communication – Communication can either make or break a community and MECS strives to keep communication a two way channel. Instead of information only being sent out via newsletter or email, open communication exists between parents and teachers, teachers and students, and amongst each area of the school. Where there is an issue or breakdown in communication, it is addressed rather than being passed over.

Gatherings – Amongst staff, daily staff devotions bring the busyness of school life to a single place so that staff can approach their work with the central focus of God and His Word. In turn, devotions within classrooms and section/ whole school assemblies allow for the same thing. It is when individuals gather together like this that a picture of community can be seen. In the Primary school calendar, the Grandparents and Special Friends Day is a gathering that shows the extent of the MECS community.

Joy – A necessary factor that also builds community and relationships is joy. I am a firm believer in seeking joy in what you do, teach and who you are to help shape and strengthen the connections you build with others. I am sure many of you have seen the friendships there are amongst the staff and if you are lucky, you may catch that special day during the year when the Primary School teachers have a dress up day and special morning tea to have a good chuckle together. Coming to work at MECS is a joy rather than just a job.

As in family life, there are times of disagreement and challenge in any community. It is the character and commitment of each of its members, working hard at right relationships and holding to the common goal of seeking God in the choices we make together that helps build our MECS community.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:4-5

So, what is your role in the community of MECS and how are you helping build or nurture it today?

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