I heard a story earlier this week – perhaps you know it – about JKF visiting NASA. For those not au fait with those sets of initials, they stand for John F Kennedy (USA President from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration respectively. The story goes that, during a visit to the NASA space centre in 1962, President Kennedy noticed a janitor sweeping the floor. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, ‘Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?’. ‘Well, Mr. President’ the man replied, ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon’.
And he was right, of course. That janitor was integral to the cleaning programme at NASA, which in turn was integral to ensuring that its internal operations could function, which in turn was integral to ensuring that the team of staff could do their jobs, which (you’ll see where this is going) was integral to getting a man on the moon. Which they did in 1969, after a further seven years of hard work and dedication from a lot of people, including that janitor. The whole team achieved that goal, and every member of that team, whatever their role, made a significant contribution to its success.
Schools are full of teams. Within the staff team alone there’s the team of academic departments, the teaching team, the support staff team, the admin team, the maintenance team, the catering team, the domestic team, the bursary team, the medical team, the boarding team, the pastoral team, the leadership team, and many, many more. The list goes on and on: all of these teams make up the staff side of the School, and each of the members in those teams holds that team together.
A key part of our staff team is the Gaps. Sometimes called Gap Tutors, Gaps or Gappers, this team of 3 young staff members contributes in massive ways to the smooth running of the School. Their relative closeness in age to the pupils helps really good working relationships form – crucial for first-rate pastoral care – and the energy and diverse skill-set that they bring are put to use across a huge range of disciplines and roles. Thy live in the boarding house and provide invaluable care to our boarders, undertake a vast array of duties across the School’s sites, assist with classroom lessons and Prep, and each of course offers their own specialism through (say) the Games programme or in the music department. Our Gaps are here for a one-year placement: those form the UK (this year that’s Miss Tyler) work from September to September, and those from the Southern Hemisphere (Miss Marshall from Australia and Miss Higham from NZ) are here from January to January.
It’s always a sad moment when they leave, and it was a sad moment indeed this morning when we said a premature goodbye to Miss Marshall. She’s returning to Australia a few weeks earlier than planned in order to get home for a funeral, and we were pleased to be able to meet together this morning in the Prep School to show our appreciation of her and send her on her way with a (seriously loud – the Chapter House has excellent acoustics) three cheers. I know that she has been to say farewell to the Pre-Prep team and pupils, too, and that the strength of feeling about just how fabulous she’s been is equally strong on both sides of the Green. Georgie has been (and I’ve learned this vocabulary from her) super awesome. It is hard to imagine a better role model for our young people to aspire to be like, nor someone more kind, more approachable, more responsible, more dependable or more positive than Georgie. We are so sorry to see her go, but we have a sneaking suspicion that we may see her again before too long if she follows her current plan to spend a year in the UK as part of her programme of study at Adelaide University.
To all members of the ECS team, whatever your role (pupil, parent, guardian, grandparent, staff, alumni, sibling, friend), I say thank you. Thank you for your significant contributions, in whatever capacity, towards making this such a wonderful School. Have a great weekend, which I hope might begin with a visit to the FECS Christmas Fayre tomorrow.