From a very early age, our children’s minds become cued into the idea of ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’. They try and find sense and reason in where they ‘fit’ on this spectrum. In a world that sometimes presents a narrow view of what ‘schooling success’ looks like and subsequently what it means to be ‘smart’, we have to work hard to ensure that our young people are receiving the right message. Our roles as parents and teachers is to guide and equip our young people with a different perspective; the gospel of message of hope, which teaches that we are all equally unique, and special, and smart; made by God for a unique purpose.
On Thursday 24 February, during our Whole School Assembly, our community was urged to consider this notion of ‘Being Smart’, and we were able to celebrate the many ways in which God has gifted each of us. Mrs Sketcher read aloud to us the picture book ‘All The Ways To Be Smart’ by Davina Bell , which identifies that being ‘smart’ is such a varied thing, but is based on the gifts that God has given to us.
During this time, we were able to recognise and celebrate some of our successful 2021 graduates; Elijah White and Jordan Warrick, both students whom have worked hard throughout their schooling journey and embraced their strengths but whom also represent very different definitions of ‘smart’.
Elijah White successfully navigated the VCE pathway and was able to achieve an ATAR of over 90 in recognition of his hard work and dedication. Elijah has always had an interest in and passion for politics on a global scale, and this has been something he has pursued right through his Secondary Schooling, even beyond the classroom. This year, Elijah is off to Deakin in Burwood to pursue a degree in International Relations and is hoping that this may lead towards a role as a diplomat or some other form of foreign relations. Whilst the destination/career is not yet clear, Elijah is keen to use the skills that God has given him to serve wherever God leads him.
Upon asking Elijah for some advice to leave our younger students, he said ‘Remain consistent and work hard. Remain consistent through your VCE years, doing the work that is set and suggested as this will assist you to be well prepared and know the content well. Work hard and stick to your work as you begin to figure out what your strengths are.’
Jordan Warrick was one of our first graduates through our VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) pathway. Whilst he graduated with very strong results, Jordan would identify as a student for whom ordinary schooling was, at times, a challenge. What was made clear to us as an audience during the assembly, was that Jordan has been able to embrace his strengths and recognise his challenges. He has been able to identify that he too is smart, adaptable and capable of success, even if this does look different from the path others like Elijah have chosen.
This coming year Jordan is going on to pursue further studies in Business and has a strong desire to use his entrepreneurial skills to serve God and serve the community. When asked for advice he might have for our younger students, Jordan said ‘Don’t let yourself be defined by what you can’t do. Rather, find out what you’re good at and work to your strengths’ He went on to explain that, after struggling through most of his schooling life, he was diagnosed with dyslexia in Year 10. However, rather than let this get him down, it provided him with the clarity that he needed to know which strengths to focus on, and which areas he would need to work harder in.
These two young men are both wonderful examples of ‘smart’; each are embracing their strengths, growing in their understanding of themselves, working hard, and striving to actively live for God in His world.
If we were to define what a successful graduate of MECS looks like... it’s not about highest scores, ATAR results, university entries or projected career pathways. It is this; being faithful (working hard) in the pursuit of understanding myself, understanding my community, understanding my world, understanding my faith... and with this knowledge, to find ways to actively serve God and serve others.
So, serve God. Actively. Embrace all the ways you are smart. Try hard to be your best self. And remember that your true identity can only be found through a God who loves you and gave His life for you.