Christine Pattison - What Does Community Mean ?

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Christine is our "Personality Of The Month October 2016".

I guess I could be considered a ‘native’ of Gunnedah, having moved here at the age of 18 months with my parents, Don and Christally Keith and my older brother, John. School years were spent at Gunnedah South and Gunnedah High, leaving to attend Armidale Teachers College in 1981. My parents valued education very highly (particularly education for a girl). This mindset mainly came from my mother (she was Greek) who always wanted me to be both educated but more importantly, independent. Hence, my school reports always had to meet the very high standards set down by my mother.

My time away from Gunnedah totalled approximately ten years and I returned when my mother became gravely ill. After her passing, I continued to teach in Gunnedah. I never really gave a lot of thought to the meaning of ‘community’ until I became the principal of Carroll Public School and later Mullaley. So my focus for the last ten years has been very much on fostering positive school communities. In a positive school community (no matter how big or small) every face has a place, every voice is heard, everyone has something to contribute, every effort is valued and … success is shared and celebrated by everyone! When schools, parents and community partners work together, great things can happen in the lives of children and young adults.

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Being part of both the Carroll and Mullaley school communities has been both a pleasure and a privilege. In both communities, parents and volunteers of these schools, have worked tirelessly and endlessly to support the children and the staff. I strongly believe that a healthy school community promotes inclusion and respect for everybody, and when children feel included, they feel safer, they show more caring and compassion towards others and they feel more secure. And it is important of course that children also learn the values of care, compassion, respect, understanding and inclusion and the best learning happens, when children see adults around them, putting these into practice.

The great Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset pointed out that every generation "has its own theme, its own preoccupation" (Max-Neef, 1991). One hopes that ours is a relentless quest for quality education for all children through effective community-school partnerships.
When I eventually retire from the world of public education, my focus will turn to the Gunnedah community.

I greatly admire the energy of Gunnedah citizens and their many contributions to all aspects of community life. Gunnedah is a wonderful place to live and there are so many individuals and community groups within this town and surrounds, who are making such a positive difference to the lives of so many. My great love in life (apart from my family) is dogs and if I have my way, I will be buying a little farm out of town so that old dogs (who have no family) can live out their lives on rolling green pastures – running as fast (or as slow) as they can, with ears flapping freely and tails wagging happily!

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Christine Pattison, 23/10/2016