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Picture of Mark Merry
From the Principal
by Mark Merry - Tuesday, 2 February 2016, 02:18 PM
 
I offer everyone a very warm welcome to the 2016 academic year. There has been a good deal of activity on campus over the term break with renovations to the Student Services Building in the Senior School, an additional classroom built in the Year 7 Building, renovations to the Junior Primary Area and the completion of our wonderful Junior School playground.
We formally began the year with our Secondary and Junior School Commencement Assemblies on Monday. This was an opportunity to welcome our students and staff, invest our student leaders and set the tone for the new Term. This has been followed up by a series of Information Evenings for parents and students. Our Secondary School Commencement Assembly was especially important this year as we began the first of our fiftieth birthday celebrations. In addition to the parents of our new student leaders we were graced with the presence of past school captains, Foundation Students from the very first class in 1966, past members of staff, the school council and former principals and their families. Following the assembly we gathered in Foundation Hall for morning tea where the Upper Primary students sang Happy Birthday to the School.
On Monday we welcomed a number of new staff to our school. This number is larger than usual due to the additional classes in Years 5, 7 and 10. I congratulate my colleagues on their new positions at Yarra Valley Grammar.
Mr Jonathon Bam: Head of Choral
• Head of Junior Music at Genazzano
• Co-Director of VOYCE (Victorian Opera Youth Chorus Ensemble) and has also sung with Opera Australia and Victorian Opera Choruses
• Other experience includes Head of Vocal Studies at University High, as Director of the Melbourne Boys Choir and the Assistant Director of the Australian Children’s Choir

Mr Mark Barratt: Teacher of Accounting and Business Management
• Mark taught for the past 2 years at Santa Maria College in Northcote teaching VCE business subjects
• Before that, lived in Japan running an English language school and coaching tennis
• Enjoys tennis and swimming

Mr Timothy Blake: Teacher of Music
• Tim has been working at YVG as a sessional music teacher but now joins the staff on a part-time basis
• He has 35 years music teaching experience, working in independent and government schools, and was Director of Music at Little Yarra Steiner School for 24 year
• A cello player for 25 years, toured nationally and internationally
• Tim enjoys building design and construction and a keen interest in politics, history and social issues

Miss Stacey Bullen: ELC Assistant
• Stacey holds an Associate Degree in Early childhood and last year, completed a Diploma of Fine Art
• This year, she will complete her 3rd year of the Bachelor of Early Childhood Teaching
• Previously worked at PLC for 2 years
• A keen netballer, currently President of the Boronia Uniting Netball Club, loves painting, craftwork and water-skiing

Mr Lou D’Amico: Teacher of Art & Design
• Previously Head of Technology at Marcellin College for 14 years
• Has been teaching for 21 years and has consistently seen his Year 12 students awarded “Top Designs” in their VCE studies. Lou is also an accomplished soccer coach.

Miss Kate Davis: Prep Teacher
• Kate previously taught Prep, and Grades 1 & 2 at Wantirna South Primary School
• Currently completing her Masters of Education (part time) at the University of Melbourne
• She has wide experience in Kindergarten and Early Childhood education

Mr Ben Evans: Integration Aide
• Ben has worked as an after school care assistant with Camp Australia and for 2 years was a full time church missionary
• Ben is currently studying a Bachelor of International Studies with majors in Anthropology and Arabic

Mr Robin Gamble: Teacher of Biology
• Robin comes to us from Brentwood Secondary College where he taught from 2007 to 2015
• He was also the Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator at that school
• He enjoys travel, hiking, ice hockey and Latin American history

Mr Brendan Hodges: Teacher of Outdoor Education
• Brendan’s previous experience was teaching Outdoor Education and junior PE at Taylors Lakes Secondary College, as well as being the Health and PE domain leader
• He enjoys sport, particularly cricket and hockey

Mr Dale Hughes: Teacher of English
• Comes to us from 7 years at Lilydale Heights College where he was Head of English for 4 years and Year 11 Coordinator
• Dale is a passionate supporter of the Geelong Football Club
• Enjoys history, travel and is an avid writer

Mr Michael Lambe: Integration Aide
• Michael has worked for 31 years as a teacher, including as a Deputy Principal
• He has worked for 5 years as a prison officer
• For the past 2 years, Michael has worked at Emmaus and Vermont South as a Learning Support Officer
• He enjoys his time with 4 grandchildren, the Richmond Football Club and South Croydon Football Club

Miss Courtney Lennox: Classroom Teacher, Junior School
• A past student of YVG from the start of Junior School, Courtney re-joins us from Birmingham Primary School, with experience coaching aerobics, coordinating the school’s newsletter, coordinating the grade 6 productions and coordinating the International School to School Experience in 2015, taking 9 students to Costa Rica.

Ms Simone Mariani: Classroom Teacher, Junior School
• Simone worked at YVG last year for a term’s placement position
• Prior to that she was an ICT teacher at Christchurch Grammar School from Prep to Grade 4 and a secondary trained Visual Arts teacher
• Previously Simone worked in the corporate world as an Admin Assistant and Assistant Project Manager in travel and training & education

Mrs April Nicoll: Teacher of Food Technology
• April taught Science at YVG for 3 years, finishing in 2008 to move to Perth where she taught Food Technology at Ursula Frayne Catholic College
• Back in Melbourne, she has taught Science and Food at Rowville Secondary and Primary at Great Ryrie as a Grade 5/6 teacher and Visual Arts Teacher
• She enjoys fashion, fitness and food

Ms Dawn Ross: Teacher of English and EAL
• Dawn has 7 years’ experience teaching English and Literature at Highvale Secondary College where she was also the Year 10 Coordinator
• She enjoys family camping by the beach in summer whilst winters weekends are spent watching her Hawthorn team win!

Mr Randy Senn: Teacher of Science, Health & PE
• Randy is a graduate with a degree in Applied Science – Physical Education from RMIT University
• He completed placements in both primary and secondary school in Victoria as well as an international placement in Singapore
• Enjoyed watching and playing sport, mainly baseball and cricket

Mrs Ngaire Thomson: Head of Art, Design & Technology
• Previously Ngaire has been the Head of Department at 3 schools, the most recent being Marymede Catholic College
• She teaches textile and visual art
• Ngaire has a passion for the arts and technology

Mrs Maria Vastianos: Junior School Psychologist
• Maria has been a registered Psychologist for 16 years, working in clinical, counselling and school settings, most recently at The Knox School
• Her therapeutic approach when working with children involves Positive Psychology strategies, Mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
• Maria is the mum of two boys aged 11 and 9, enjoys cooking, walking reading and spending time with family and friends

Mr Nicholas Watts: Teacher of Mathematics
• Nick is a Yarra Old Grammarian from the Class of 2009
• He is a graduate of Monash University where he studied a Bachelor of Science and Master of Teaching
• He plays the bass guitar and mandolin

Mr Jason Wylie: Teacher of Art, Design & Technology
• Jason comes to us from Alkira Secondary College where he taught Product Design and Technology, Visual Communication Design and PE
• He was Head of the Technology Department for three years and is an experienced Level 2 cricket coach
• Jason has also been a university tutor and mentor in Industrial Design
• He enjoys travel, food, sport and renovating

Ms Jinghan Xia: Teacher of Mathematics
• A graduate from the University of Melbourne (Master of Science) and the ACU (Dip Ed Secondary)
• Jinghan is also involved in international student and youth ministries work

Last year was a very successful year at the School with our Year 12 Class of 2015 finding their way into tertiary studies or the workforce following another exemplary performance in the VCE. We wish all of our students all the very best in their studies for 2016.
Welcome back everyone!
Dr Mark Merry
Picture of Mark Merry
From the Principal
by Mark Merry - Friday, 20 November 2015, 08:27 AM
  I received two phone calls from members of the public this week. The first was from the organiser of a local soup kitchen which caters for people who once would be described as ‘down on their luck’. She told of our Year 8 helpers who washed pots, served food and interacted with the people there. Our students were described as polite, hard-working, respectful, sensitive and compassionate.
The second was from an elderly neighbour who fell in the driveway of her home. She lay there in pain for over 45 minutes. It was at this point that three of our students came to her aid. They found water, called the ambulance and waited with her until help arrived. She spoke to me of her relief and gratitude.
These two stories are refreshing reminders of just how good people can be. Amidst the terrible news coming out of Europe and the Middle East there are many stories of simple kindness that don’t capture the attention of the world. The capacity to do great evil is more remarkable and more remarked upon than the tendency to do simple good. It would be easy to believe that the world is an evil and dangerous place. Sometimes it can be. But if young men and women have the capacity to make such good decisions then the publicised evil we are seeing is not the norm nor will it ever be.
As a community we hope and pray for an end to the madness that has taken some to such very dark places. As we mourn the terrible suffering in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and France, there is also room to celebrate the fundamental kindness of young people.

Dr Mark Merry
Principal
Yarra Valley Grammar