CSPV is exploring opportunities for parents as leaders in Catholic schools as part of a major five-year project to be launched in 2023. The initial scope of the project was developed in 2020 and we have now established a Terms of Reference and a team of parents to collaborate on driving the first stage of the project.
We are planning to have parents from Catholic schools across Victoria involved in this project in various ways including focus groups, providing feedback, contributing to articles and information sessions and other input into the framework design.
One of the ways parents traditionally demonstrate leadership is through one of their many roles as volunteers. Volunteering is a selfless act that provides opportunities for Catholic communities to grow and flourish. Catholic community is one of the main appeals for parents when choosing a Catholic school, but it takes the dedication of parents to make this work, alongside educators. Flourishing Catholic schools are a result of parents and school staff coming together to build a positive community culture and volunteering is a contributing factor in achieving this.
So how does this demonstrate parent leadership? We recently interviewed parents from St Mark’s, Fawkner and St Carlo’s in Greenvale about their ‘why’ when it comes to volunteering and making a difference in the lives of children.
The main drive for parents to volunteer in their children’s schools is to set an example for their children. When you grow up watching your parents selflessly dedicate time to support and help others, there is a good chance that you will do the same as the saying goes ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’
When you volunteer in a school on committees or participate in activities such as fetes, cooking BBQs for special days, helping out with extra-curricular activities such as art shows and sport days, swimming carnivals and other events, helping in the classroom etc. children get to know the parents and feel supported by ‘the village’ It also helps you as parents to get to know your children’s friends and to lead by example for all children, not only your own.
As Sam Garro suggested during our discussion about parent leadership, “leadership is more about what you do, how you take action – to be seen not just heard,” so leading by example is a key component in parent leadership. The lessons Sam teaches his children is to have a ‘why’ or a purpose. Leading by example in a Catholic community is to demonstrate support for others without expecting anything in return. This is a lesson that is a good influence for children to learn from parents as leaders in Catholic schools and is aligned with the mission of Catholic education.
Sam says other benefits of being involved in a Catholic community are the lifelong friendships you make with other parents who also step up into leadership roles to support the school on various committees and to support their children in doing so.
It’s unfortunate the pandemic prevented many community building activities from taking place but there are opportunities now to rebuild and regroup. The interest from parents has increased so the social aspect of school communities can be developed again. At St Carlo’s there are parent-led initiatives such as the year 6 end of year graduation party, as well as school-led events such as art shows and student learning on display.