St John the Baptist Ferntree Gully Newsletter

Letter from the Principal

Tuesday July 21st 2020

Dear Families

Welcome to Term 3. There has been a mix of emotions for many in our community over the past week as everyone comes to terms with transitioning back into stage 3 restrictions. We have been very fortunate as a staff to have had an extra week to prepare for remote learning once more. Once again our staff took to the task of preparation with incredible commitment and rigour. We have made a few  adjustments to our delivery of remote learning based on the feedback from families. I want to reassure all families that I have complete trust in you all that you will do the very best that you can. You need to be kind to yourself and recognise that your best is good enough! In these exceptional times it is absolutely necessary that we are people of empathy to both ourselves and others. 

We appreciate as a school that the lived experience for each person is their own. What that means in real terms is that we need to respect that each of us will respond in different ways and each of us will need different levels of support depending on our personal circumstances.

We are deeply grateful to the families who are keeping their children at home and taking on the task of remote learning as many of you juggle your own fulltime or partime workload. That is a phenomenal undertaking. At the same time we understand that this is not possible for everyone. We are here for you in any capacity that you may need. The health and wellbeing of everyone in our community is our highest priority. 

The classroom teaching staff will be working from home on most days of the week. We currently are able to staff the learning for our children who need to be onsite with our wonderful learning support officers, our specialist staff, our classroom teachers (1 day per week) and myself. Thankyou to our families for your clear communication. It is essential that we know our onsite numbers so that we can maintain an appropriate staff and student ratio. Keeping our staff and students at home where possible is a priority however the lines of communication are always open and if your circumstances change and remote learning is becoming detrimental to either yourself or your child from a learning and welfare point of view please make contact via email

A Story to Share

I wanted to share a story with you that was posted by a friend during the time of the tower's lockdown. Sometimes the media paints one perspective but I thought this reflection from a nurse offered a beautiful alternative perspective. 

Each of these little boxes in the locked down Melbourne Towers holds a story. Someone who matters. We are listening and we care. The past two days I have had the privilege of being one of a team of nurses from Knox Private Hospital providing COVID swabbing for the residents of the Towers. This pandemic brings out the best in some and the worst in others. These past two days I’ve been lucky to see countless examples of the BEST!

Day 1 at Flemington Towers the Coordinator expected a team of 14 nurses, he had a hundred or more instead, and a plethora of Paramedics as well. None of us knew what to expect going in. The media reports certainly have done nothing to allay anxiety.

There was a lot of time waiting for final permission to proceed whilst safety concerns and logistical issues were ironed out. As we waited we could see faces at various windows watching our preparations. We waved and blew kisses which were returned with joy.

Each team that went in had members of our wonderful Victoria Police as escorts for protection which thankfully wasn’t an issue as there was no threat directed towards us at any time.

Our team used every door knock as an opportunity to do a welfare check. We asked the question R U OK.

My heart (and my eyes, truth be told) is overflowing from the reactions, the love, the gratitude shown by these beautiful people we have met. Yes they are frightened and some are angry, honestly who isn’t? But the vast majority were fully understanding and accepting of why they have been placed in such tight lockdown.

Reports that they have no food/supplies are totally unfounded. In the words of one lovely young man “my fridge has never been this full before”.

We listened, we cared, I hope we made a difference. Almost every resident was eager to be swabbed (some had already been swabbed in the last few days). They are worried about their jobs and how long this will go on. Unfortunately those are questions we couldn’t answer for them.

There is a veritable army of wonderful support people working tirelessly to make sure these people are receiving everything they need both physically and emotionally.

We had Interpreters, Social and Mental Health Workers all available to assist.

Requests for medications or specific dietary needs were relayed and being met.

Again and again we were met at the door by thankful, wonderful people who were as much worried for our safety and well being as their own. Our hearts were melted by sweet cheeky little ones peering round Mumma’s legs at these funny looking nurses in PPE. We shared a bit of our lives with each other and connected in those moments.

It’s funny how little details stand out in the midst of crazy times. At the end of the day yesterday as we packed up our trolley of supplies I saw the tissue boxes on other trolleys were exactly like mine. Each one had hastily scribbled ‘requests’ inscribed. Such as No.-eggs and bread,  No.-Colgate Toothpaste & Sanitary Items, No.-onions & tomatoes. Rest assured we passed on those requests and kudos to the male police officer who went back to hand deliver the sanitary items that one of the Social Workers happened to have with her when we went back down stairs.

Together we can make a difference.

#staysafe #staystrong #wecare #proudtobeaustralian #theyhavetoiletpaper

Edit: Feel free to share. Positive vibes are well worth spreading. xx

Random Act of Kindness

A story from Julie Gellie…

Julie was racing out to her car with a loaded shopping trolley on a very cold and wet Melbourne day. As she struggled to unlock her car in the pouring rain a man got out of his car, helped unlock Julie’s car and proceeded to load her car with her shopping. Sacrificing the comfort of himself for the good of another. What a great man!

If you have any stories to share where you have experiences a random act of kindness please forward your story via email

Family Prayer

For those families who may be missing the opportunity to gather for weekly Mass and listen to God's Word as we are accustomed in our Catholic Tradition, included here is a copy of last Sunday's Readings and suggestions to live out God's Word, that you as a family community may like to explore. 

Mrs Marialisa Mandarino, Religious Education Leader

Knox Council Wellbeing Network Resources

Below are resources that have been developed in the past 5 months to support families during the Corona Virus lockdown.

Isolation Activities


5-7 Activity Book


8-12 Activity Book


Knox Council - Community & Welfare Relief


P&F Sponsors

St John the Baptist Ferntree Gully