Focus On: Chaplaincy
One of the great things about being a Chaplain is that no two days or weeks are ever the same but within that fluidity is the regular rhythm of some constant features. I love the opportunity to lead Acts of Worship; to provide opportunities for the school community to pause, reflect and celebrate. Together we explore what life in all it’s fulness might look and feel like. This fortnight we are considering our place in a vast universe; trying to comprehend tesseracts and 4D Rubik’s cubes and to use this as a springboard to consider that there are some things that are beyond our knowledge and understanding. This acts as a great springboard to consider the Trinity; the Christian believe in One God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to consider how God who is greater than even our best understanding wants to be known and experienced by us. As well as celebrating key events in the Christian calendar (Harvest, Remembrance, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday), we explore Christian values as we address issues of concern and interest. Some colleagues and I are building up a library of resources to be used as daily reflections in tutor times. These include our now annual 40 Acts of Kindness campaign for Lent, Harvest appeals and opportunities to write prayers of hope for Christmas that are hung on a tree in school reception. I am looking forward to our Business and Enterprise Day this year when I will be supporting one of our teachers of textiles as she enables some of our Year 9 students to create banners that will be used as backdrops for our year group Acts of Worship.
Over the past few weeks I have been visiting Year 7 RE lessons to talk about my faith, some of the challenges to faith I have experienced in life and to answer questions the students have following on for their study of Christianity over the past few months. Many of their questions and feedback have been inspiring and profound.
One of the highlights of my week is co-leading a 9-week programme called ‘Shine’, a course for girls to help them recognize their value, build their emotional strength, develop their confidence and release their potential. We have run the course twice this year and are thrilled by the feedback from the amazing participants. I am currently working with another colleague to develop a programme called ‘Strength’, a course with the same aims and values but this time for boys. As a qualified ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) I am excited to be working with ELSAs from primary schools to develop Shine & Strength programmes for use with the children they work with.
Tuesday mornings usually find myself and Perran (my little dog) visiting the Little Gryphons Nursery. We spend time talking with the staff and children, playing and reading stories. I tell the stories of Christmas and Easter to the children and enjoy my visits immensely.
Each week I run a lunchtime group called ‘Showcase’. Students complete a quiz while eating their lunch and chatting with their friends, then we watch part of a film together (Paddington this term), we think about a moral and spiritual theme that comes out of the film clip and then play some high energy games to finish. It’s a lovely community and a lot of fun!
Perran and I enjoy walking around the school chatting with students and staff and some find their way to my room to talk further. One of the pupils I work with is creating a mosaic; a beautiful symbol of hope; that beauty can come out of brokenness. I am considering other ways of fusing creativity with opportunities to chat, and to develop strategies to deal with life’s challenges. It is helpful to share good practice and ideas with other Chaplains and I value the opportunity to regularly meet with Revd Katie Windle at Sherborne Girls. There is a weekly prayer meeting for staff which I enjoy being part of and we always begin the school year with a Communion service for any staff who wish to attend. We are looking forward to welcoming back the Christians in Science initiative “God and the Big Bang” in March 2020 and planning has already started. I appreciate the opportunities to help with school trips as it is a great way to get to know students outside of the school context and I have been to the Year 7 residential trip to Carey camp every year since I became part of the school. I’m looking forward to my ninth stay this September!
I feel privileged to be part of The Gryphon school and to be involved in the process of living life in all its fulness and seeking to help others do the same.