Welcome to the Cornerstone Blog featuring articles from our Principal, Mr Craig Fielke as well as members of the Senior Leadership team, Learning Area Leaders and teachers across the College. We hope that you enjoy reading these updates.


Embracing our Past Inspiring our future

Craig Fielke | Principal

Since 1838, Hahndorf has played a significant role in the German and Lutheran story in Australia. In and around Hahndorf, there is a deep and rich heritage in many places, people and practices, which has had an enduring influence on this story. Understanding our mission as a college and continuing to tell this story is a key and underpinning strength.

The 2022 National Lutheran Principals’ Conference was recently held in Hahndorf and had the theme “Embracing our Past, Inspiring our Future”. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore how our heritage provides a compass and touchstone for our current practices, how these practices embed a legacy for our future and how looking into that future can inspire and shape our leadership and schools.

We were privileged to have several excellent presenters, including Michael McQueen. Michael is a thought provoking and astute thinker and analyser of current and future trends and how they translate into the actions and planning of organisations and communities.

In 2019, Michael released his seventh book, Teaching for Tomorrow, which focused on the education sector and explored the key paradigm shifts that need to be considered by governments and school communities to enable them to best equip our children for tomorrow.

Three overall themes he shared with Lutheran principals from across Australia were:

  • Being cognisant of the future that is ahead, and the skills and dispositions required to both meet the challenges and take hold of the opportunities. One example was the fact we are entering of the age of augmented and synthetic reality.
  • Being focussed on capability building rather than simply content delivery. Numeracy and literacy skills and the mastery of key skills are an integral part of competency and capacity to engage and function effectively in the world. However, the capacity to innovate, collaborate, empathise, persevere and the like are just as important for the success of students and how they can contribute to their world with meaning and purpose.
  • Reimage the role of educator so that we have a focus on progress rather than precedent. The exploration and answering of three questions can assist in this reimaging:
    • What do we need to stop doing?
    •  What do we never stop doing?
    •  What should we start doing again?

Another key and underpinning strength of Cornerstone is our boldness in engaging with contemporary and futuristic thinking and making efforts to align the future we know will come with the skills and dispositions we work to develop and sustain in our students to be expert contributors, collaborators and innovators to that future.

“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it.” – James 1:5.

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What is at the Heart of a Thriving Learning Community?

Shane Schoff | Deputy Principal

Our mission at Cornerstone is to provide a caring Christian community nurturing within students a growing relationship with Christ which promotes individual excellence, learning and responsibility for life.

We share this significant responsibility in preparing young people to lead successful and productive lives. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers reflect and build on national and international evidence that teachers have a powerful impact on students. Teachers can be a source of inspiration and, equally importantly, provide a dependable and consistent influence on young people as they make choices about further education, work, and life.

Our strong standards are clear and detailed about what is valued in the teaching profession. The standards articulate what is high-quality practice and provide a tool for teachers to reflect on their skills, capabilities, and practice to identify focus areas for growth and development.

At the heart of a thriving learning community, you will find thriving learners.

One of our strategic intentions is to ‘champion best practice in professional learning.’ Each year our teaching staff establish and pursue their own professional learning goals, either individually or through collaborative projects. This approach provides opportunities for staff to strengthen relationships and collaborative skills while building a collective responsibility for improvement. Our vision at Cornerstone includes building a culture of innovation in professional learning, that empowers teachers to try new ideas and, ultimately, improve student learning.

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House Spirit

Dale Hoffman | Wellbeing Director

In the past two weeks the House spirit at Cornerstone College has well and truly been on display at both the Middle School Swimming Carnival and the whole College Athletics Carnival.

The Athletics Carnival was the first day for 2022 that we have been able to be together as a whole community and we were blessed with amazing weather and treated to some fantastic sporting performances.

Whilst I love watching swimming and athletics as sports, what I most enjoy about these days at the College is the House spirit and camaraderie that is evident. Our students looked brilliant in their House coloured tops, with many adding face paint, coloured socks, costumes and other accessories to show their allegiances.

This along with the war-cry, the barracking, the chanting and the encouragement creates a brilliant atmosphere for the day.

Individuals and teams who demonstrate ‘The True House Spirit’ are the people that others look up to as leaders and role models.
One of the inevitable questions at the end of the Athletics Carnival and Swimming Carnival is always ‘who won’ and I guess how you describe winning is what determines that answer. I think a quote from ‘anonymous’ best sums things up.

“In the end you will not be measured by wins and losses, but by the impact that you have on the lives of others, and that happens through the relationships that you invest in. When you focus on serving others and building relationships, success will ultimately find you.”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23-24

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Welcome Back

Craig Fielke | Principal

I hope you found some time to rest and relax over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. I am also sure like me, that during the last month, you have sought answers to a range of questions as we have continued to collectively respond to the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there will be some creative navigating required at the beginning of the school year, I am both hopeful and optimistic that we will find a way to have a productive and successful 2022.

Education is universally recognised as a critical element to the health and prosperity of individuals, communities and cultures. Outcomes such as students understanding and building confidence and capacity to influence their world, fulfilling dreams and aspirations, making a fairer world and enabling human progress are just a few of the reasons provided for the importance of education.

Whilst learning a collection of facts and knowledge that can be applied to the real world is of importance, you can never underestimate the power of asking questions more than merely finding answers.

The author of A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger, suggests that between the ages of 2 and 5, children ask an average of 40,000 questions and that over the following years, as children begin school, the number of questions they ask declines. Other research hypotheses that as students move into Middle School and beyond the reduction in asking questioning, and at its heart, curiosity, has a significant influence on engagement and ultimately the depth and quality of learning. A drive for simply having the answer can be very counterproductive to the overall development of students.

Good questions have a range of benefits, such as:

  • Greater curiosity and engagement
  • Enhanced open mindedness
  • Varied and creative solutions
  • Even better questions

It is important that schools provide a ‘safe and valued’ environment and multiple ‘curious and engaged’ opportunities for students to ask questions. At Cornerstone, staff know the importance of enabling students to develop the knowledge and skills to find answers whilst always looking to engage in quality questioning as a central element to drive and enhance student learning.

Parents/caregivers also play a critical role in modelling and interacting in discussions where questions are central to contemplations, options and possibilities. I also encourage parents/caregivers to continue to ask more than ‘How was your day?’ as you share the learning journey of your child/ren at Cornerstone.

At another level, questions can also help to build, strengthen and sustain the relationship you have with your child/ren. You may even like to stretch yourself a little and try asking some of the questions from the following link as part of your discussions with your child/ren:

Perhaps it is fitting that for the first time, the College’s annual spiritual theme is encapsulated in a symbol rather than a word or phrase. This year’s spiritual theme is “?”. During the year, Pastor Al and Chaplain Andy will detail and unpack the importance of questions in reflecting upon and responding to God’s story in and through our lives.

May God bless us all in our teaching, learning and support in 2022.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when they contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” ― Albert Einstein

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Still Changing

Craig Fielke | Principal

At the beginning of this year, I reflected on the changes we had experienced over the previous year. Looking back over the last 12 months, I realise that we have continued to face many changes that I’m sure no one could have envisaged including lockdowns, mask wearing, travel restrictions and vaccination mandates.

We might think that change and uncertainty is a recent phenomenon, but in reality, it is a condition of our human existence, as can be reflected in this quote from the Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus, who lived between 535-475 BC, “There is nothing permanent except change.”

Change is and will be an ongoing part of our lives, good, bad and indifferent.

So how do we manage, cope, flow and grow through change?

There is plenty of advice about the means and manner you can productively respond to changing circumstances, but perhaps another Greek philosopher has a key perspective, “The secret of change is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ― Socrates

I am particularly proud of how our community has worked together to navigate the significant changes and challenges of the last two years. I also hope our families find time to rest, relax and refresh over the upcoming holidays.

I also think it is fitting that as we come to the end of 2021, we will encounter an event that changed the course of world history and continues to have a greater affect and influence than any other time in the history of the world.

We are about to enter the Advent and Festive season, and I encourage us all to take time to deeply reflect upon and celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and the change God can continue to make in our lives, our connections with others and the world he has placed into our care.

“Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call him Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31)

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Cornerstone Community Generosity Continues to Uplift and Inspire

Jayne Symons | Communications & Engagement Director

We are continually grateful for the generosity of the Cornerstone community and the partnerships which we share.

As the end of Term 4 is fast approaching we reflect on the year that has been and take a moment to give thanks for those behind the scenes that have supported the College throughout the year.

Although COVID-19 restrictions limited the ability to volunteer on campus we were still very fortunate to receive volunteer support throughout Term 1 and 2.

Thank you to the various volunteers that have assisted in cibo bello canteen, College events including Athletics Carnival and Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day, assisting with the operation of the Second Hand Uniform Shop, College archiving, fundraising with the PT&F and administrative support in the Communications & Engagement Office – we value and appreciate all of you. Cornerstone really does shine brighter with you here and we look forward to welcoming you back to our team in 2022.

To our College Sponsors – your support has enabled us to run internal events and community events that benefit the entire community. The Adelaide Hills Careers Expo provided valuable career pathway advice to anyone seeking direction on beginning a new career, looking to change careers, or returning to the work force. Thank you to College Sponsors Duttons Adelaide Hills, Higgins Coatings and Beyond Bank for making this possible.

The 13th Annual Cornerstone Classic Golf Day raised $900 with the PT&F raffle, all made possible by the generous donations of prizes from local businesses ― Southern Cross Clearning, Stirling Variety Meats, Worklocker, Mount Barker Landscape Centre, Salute and Aston Hills Golf Club – thank you once again for your support. The money raised will go towards the construction of a Labyrinth/ Prayer Garden to be completed in 2022.

College sponsorship not only assists to offset costs but also provides in kind sponsorship where goods or services are donated.

Thank you to Stroud Homes for the 300 trees and shrubs that were generously donated for National Tree Day. Key speakers and organisations also provide content for internal events. This provides an incredible benefit for our students where they can learn valuable insights, life lessons and gain a greater understanding of career pathways.

The Year 11 Careers and Curriculum Day featured 18 organisations across various sectors with interactive sessions and workshops, the Year 10 and Year 11 Driver Awareness Program was run by SAPOL, the Year 11 Road Awareness Program was run by MFS and SES and for the first time in December, MTA will operate a Basic Car Care session.

Sponsors also assist with Year 11 and 12 Closing Celebration Awards to be held on Thursday, 25 November.

To all our sponsors, volunteers, PT&F members and partners – thank you!

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Putting Theory into Practice – The Role of Fieldwork in the Humanities

Casey Patterson | Humanities and Social Sciences Learning Area Leader

When recalling their time at school, adults often reminiscence about their time out of the classroom, whether it be on excursions, camps, or even on the school grounds. Spending time beyond the classroom walls can provide students with a real world context to their learning, renew a sense of enthusiasm and can offer the opportunity for pupils to develop new skills.

The Humanities Learning Area at Cornerstone College has taken the opportunity for students to learn beyond the classroom in various contexts.
The first annual Year 12 Tourism venture to Kangaroo Island took place this year and provided students with the chance to examine the Tourism Industry of a reliant location in a real-life context. Students took photos, interviewed locals and tourists, made observations and judgements and compared secondary sources of information with primary evidence to determine the sustainability of the industry on the island.

Geography fieldwork is an important element of the College’s Geography curriculums. Fieldwork opportunities begin at Year 9, where students visit a local farm to examine the changes made to agricultural practises to combat changing climates. Year 10 students visit the coast to examine the effectiveness of management strategies. These skills culminate in Year 12 where students choose their own topic for their Field Study, which they complete independently.

There are many other instances where excursions occur in Humanities classrooms at the College, and others that are being investigated for the future. Of course, it is excellent for students at Cornerstone to continue to develop skills outside of the classroom, but what really inspires our staff is the excitement and sheer joy experienced by ‘our kids’ when they are out and about, as well as the knowledge that they are generating memories they will retain for a lifetime.

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Lifelong Learning

Julie Sampson | Learning Director

I have been taking French language lessons at Alliance Française d’Adelaide for a number of years. I don’t really know why, but I have had a fascination with all things French since a young child. Growing up in a small country town, I didn’t have the chance to learn a foreign language at school, and have only just taken on the challenge in my more mature years as a learner.

Last week, I was grappling with the grammar of ce qui and ce que related to objects and subjects. It is hard, and I don’t understand some of the grammatical terms in English, let alone work them out in French. But I persevere. It is an enjoyable hobby, where I meet interesting people, and I have gained a basic level of French understanding which continues to improve from term to term.

It got me thinking about lifelong learning. This is part of our mission at Cornerstone College.

“We are a caring Christian community nurturing within students a growing relationship with Christ which promotes individual excellence, learning and responsibility for life.”

We promote a love of learning in our students “for life”. I interpret this two ways. We want our students to have the skills, knowledge and capabilities for their future, so they can contribute meaningfully to the wider community through work and/or service. But we also hope they take on a love of learning “for life”, to continue to grow and develop, learn new things and take on new challenges in work, hobbies, community activities, sport and family life.

We continue to encourage our students (and ourselves as lifelong learners) to:

  • Seek new opportunities – to move out of their comfort zone in their learning
  • Embrace change – to know that change is part of life and leads to personal and professional growth
  • Be curious – seek to understand how the world works
  • Set goals – to know what they want and work to achieve it
  • Persevere – don’t throw in the towel, work hard and ask for help when needed.

We commend our Year 12 students who have shown these traits this year and pray that they can persevere, to finish well, as they complete their final assignments and exams. We continue to work to build these qualities in all our students and staff.

And I leave you with one final thought for us all. “Lifelong learners believe it’s never too late. Lifelong learners know that an old dog can learn new tricks if that dog is so inclined. Age is not a factor in picking up a new skill or hobby.”

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Acts of Kindness

Craig Fielke | Principal

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest that you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Recently, I came across some ‘homemade’ research, which provided a strong sense of satisfaction, hope and inspiration.

Earlier this year, Helga’s Bakehouse commissioned McCrindle Research to explore and measure kindness in Australia. McCrindle developed a ‘national kindness index’ to calculate a ‘kindness score’ for individuals based on factors including behaviour, attitudes, thoughts and feelings.

Full details of the research findings can be found at:

Overall, there were some heartening results that emerged. Importantly, Australians both believe the culture of kindness in Australia is stronger than the rest of the world and are living out kindness in their daily lives. The average Australian performs 16 acts of kindness every week through the words they speak, the actions they perform and the time they give.

It is very pleasing to note that South Australians have emerged as the most considerate state in the nation.
Research principal, Mark McCrindle, described the result as a “badge of honour” for SA.

McCrindle also reflected that:

“In the midst of a pandemic, Australians are saying we need this kindness even more because we can’t rely on the normal social interactions, the hugs and the handshakes… we’ve got to go above and beyond to find other ways of being kind and of building social fabric.’

“(This is) the state that truly leads the nation on ‘otherness’, of thinking of the other and that is one of the key attributes – a foundational value – of kindness.

“The good thing about this is, it is not ‘the niceness index’… it is far deeper than that, this is the virtue of kindness, (of being) community-minded.”

It was also significant to note that younger generations scored the highest in the kindness index.

The research also asked Australians how we can be kinder. There were three simple and easily practiced responses:

  1. Asking more, “are you okay?”
  2. Helping people when we see a need
  3. Simply saying “hi” to people when we see them

Kindness can have health benefits for individuals, strengthen connections and relationships and has an infectious effect in our community.

Let’s all commit to living out and sharing kindness.

The following website provides free resources to help individuals, school and communities to help in this worthy aim:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:3

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Thought Leadership

Meg Molenaar | Learning Area Leader – Cross Disciplinary Studies

Future Leaders

As we head into a post Covid-19 landscape, we can see many workplace changes that are likely to become more permanent. Flexible working hours and arrangements, alternative business structures and news ways of doing business all bring with them an array of new issues into the workplace and with it, challenges for the leaders of the future.

While some aspects of leadership, such as setting a vision and executing on strategy, will remain, the future leader will need to possess a new arsenal of skills and mindsets to lead effectively. Bestselling author and keynote speaker Jacob Morgan – author of The Future Leader – recently put together a list of the top 4 mindsets and top 5 skills that future leaders must master.


Global Citizen – Leaders in the future need to understand and appreciate different cultures, seek out and work with diverse teams, know how to work in a variety of world markets and lead employees with diverse backgrounds.

Servant – Leaders in the future will need to have a mindset of service where they practice humility and work to serve all of those around them – customers, teams, their managers and themselves.

Chef – Leaders of the future will need to be able to balance multiple things and bring them all together seamlessly. They will need to embrace technology and use it to create efficiencies, while also caring for the people around them.

Explorer – Leaders of the future need to being willing to step out and embrace the unknown. This involves being open to new ideas and being willing to change direction as the world around them changes. Most importantly, they need to be willing to learn continually.


Coach – Leaders of the future need to be able to coach their teams to motivate, inspire and engage their team members both as a group and as individuals. The best coaches develop their people to be better than them.

Futurist – Leaders of the future need to be open to everything and not surprised by anything. They need to be able to live and adapt to an ever changing world and consider multiple options and scenarios at any time.

Technology Teenager – while many leaders may not be quite as tech savvy as teenagers, they do need to embrace technology and know how to use it to best serve their employees and company.

Translator – Translators are master communicators. Leaders of the future need to be able to listen to understand and do more than hear what people are saying. The need to recognise and use verbal and non-verbal communication. Listening and communication are two timeless aspects of great leadership, yet they are also the two which are changing the most!

Yoda – No they don’t need to use the force, leaders of the future need to be emotionally intelligent. They need to build genuine empathy and self-awareness. A great leader in the future will need to be a great communicator who is able to build real connections.

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Growth and Transformation

Craig Fielke | Principal

You may have read the news that Eric Carle had died on 23 May this year at the age of 91. Whilst it could be difficult to instantly recognise this name, perhaps the following words may jog your memory:

“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.”

I am confident that nearly all of us have read those words to our children at some stage, which are attributed to Eric.
Eric was the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the third of many children’s books he wrote, which was first published in 1969, and has since won numerous awards, been translated into 40 languages and sold over 50 million copies.

It is a story my children seemed never to get tired listening to, as they were mesmerised by the wonderful combination of words and pictures featuring a very hungry caterpillar, who eats through a wide variety of foods before pupating and emerging as a butterfly. At its heart is the theme of growth and transformation. Storytellers like Eric Carle have an innate ability to share enduring wisdom in a simple yet meaningful way.

The following words hopefully jog another memory ― “We are a caring Christian community nurturing within students a growing relationship with Christ which promotes individual excellence, learning and responsibility for life.”

The way our community understand and lives out this mission of our College is the essence of our ongoing story. The day to day teaching and learning opportunities both in and beyond the classroom and the interactions between staff, students and our families is the vehicle for sharing our enduring wisdom.

And like Eric Carle’s classic story, growth and transformation are also very much at the heart of the mission and ongoing vision and plans of Cornerstone College.

“We are a caring Christian community nurturing within students a growing relationship with Christ which promotes individual excellence, learning and responsibility for life.”

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Learner Profile Developments

Julie Sampson  |  Learning Director

How to better develop student capabilities continues to be a focus in national, state and local educational circles.

Professor Sandra Milligan from the University of Melbourne spoke at the recent Learner Profile Project Day, highlighting that the capacity to thrive at and beyond school required ensuring schools were looking broadly at five areas of education. Basic Literacies, and Knowledge & Know-how remain important. However, Connectivity, Student Agency and Learning Capabilities need to also be a focus in education for the 21st century. We continue to explore what this means for teaching and learning at Cornerstone College.

The College is involved in two multi-year AISSA projects. The Meta-praxis project team is focusing on capabilities in the Middle School, for its third year. The Learner Profile project, in its second year, has a focus on Senior School. We are part way through a design and prototyping process, having investigated different capabilities, determined to initially explore Critical Thinking, and framed a learning progression for assessment. We are now in a trialling and evaluation phase.
This year we will also work on developing a Learner Profile for each student in Year 10. We are currently exploring how Charis can provide a mechanism for the development of the profile with students, and communicate it to parents/caregivers.

The capabilities are about developing skills and particular mindsets so they will be assessed on a progression of development. A letter grade for assessment is not useful in this context. Rather, a progression defines the skills at each stage of development and helps students and teachers identify what a student can already do and what they need to develop next.

The Learner Profile Project is co-lead by the University of Melbourne. This has been a very beneficial alliance, further developing our understanding of the capabilities and how best to assess them. Our rubric was analysed by our university project advisor, providing valuable feedback. The team then trialled the learning progression in Personal Learning Plan (PLP) last year.

The other benefit of the project has been working with 18 schools across educational sectors, all of whom have developed progressions for different capabilities. The progressions have been shared so that all the schools benefit from the work of the collective. We can select, review and revise any number of these rubrics to develop Cornerstone’s set of capability progressions.

Professor Milligan highlighted a number challenges to developing a meaningful Learner Profile. It needs to be transparent, align with school values, allow for authentic assessment, be feasible and useable for teachers and students, and provide comparable assessment data for SACE and university purposes.

While these challenges are somewhat daunting, as project team members we are excited to be involved at the forefront of the development of capability assessment tools and Learner Profiles, collaborating with many schools, the University of Melbourne, AISSA and SACE. Our investigations are contributing to the larger educational work in SA and beyond.

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When you have spare time, what do you like to do?

Shane Schoff  |  Deputy Principal

Since I moved to the hills a few years ago, I discovered I love to go on long walks. It’s great for fitness, and you get to soak up this beautiful part of the world that we live in. I have discovered that when I am out walking, I like to walk with others. There is something about sharing memorable moments like climbing a summit or completing an adventurous walk.

At a recent Assembly I challenged students to reflect on the following question: What does the world need of you?

The ten values that underpin Lutheran Education Australia provide a useful point of reflection when contemplating this question: Love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, service, humility, courage, hope, quality and appreciation.

Consider service. Very simply, service is helping others. At a deeper level, service is using your God-given gifts and opportunities to meet the needs of the world.

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is a service organisation that Cornerstone College has supported for a number of years. ALWS organises an annual fundraiser called Walk My Way.

The following short video provides a little insight into why people are choosing to walk 26km.

Walk My Way SA 2019 from ALWS on Vimeo.

Here is a real need, helping refugee children attend school. This provides hope, in challenging circumstances.

How can you be involved?
If you enjoy walking, you can join the Cornerstone College team for the 26km walk in the Barossa on Saturday, 1 May by registering here:

There are alternative ways to be involved if you are unable to participate in the walk. You can create your own challenge and register your own event here:

Importantly, every $26 raised enables a refugee child to access school for a year.

I am looking forward to the challenge of walking 26km with many others on 1 May. What I am most enthused about is making a difference for those in need. I encourage you to consider what the world needs of you.

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The Rite Journey

Tim Vanderbom  |  Christian Living LA Leader & Rite Journey teacher

Monday, 22 February was the ceremonial start of our Year 9s passage through The Rite Journey (TRJ) which is a year long introduction to what happens next in life.

We walked to the summit of Mount Barker, where they were ‘Called’ to begin on this journey. We acknowledged those who have come before us, those significant to us right now, and made a call for us to be thankful and appreciative of these people.

Once back at the College, each Journey class spent time together, challenging, eating, thinking and grappling with what’s important to us.

In the evening, parents joined students for their own introduction to the TRG course with one of its co-creators, Andrew Lines. To round out the day, parents/caregivers, students and teachers gathered to mark the start of the year’s time together.

We hope that each family found value in the time together. Thank you to all the staff involved and thank you to families for coming along and marking this important occasion.
We wish you all well and look forward to continuing our adventures together.

A reminder about other significant events during the year being camp (23-27 August) and the ‘Return’ ceremony parent/caregiver evening on Monday, 29 November.

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Languages and Careers

Ingrid Synwoldt – Senior School Learning Area Leader

Chinese and German, the languages offered at Cornerstone, are two of the five most sought after second languages in Australia (Yun, 9 March 2020).  

From a career perspective, many people think that learning a language only enables you to become a teacher or interpreter/translator, but other areas benefitting from knowledge of another language include social work, customer service, tourism, media, foreign relations/diplomacy, healthcare, engineering and many more. Some government and non-government organisations jobs also require knowledge of a foreign language.

Knowing an additional language besides English can open doors in terms of future employment. The Australian Careers Service lists the following reasons for having a language on your CV (summarised here):

You will stand out from the crowd 

Many students opt out early on, but those who continue their language learning demonstrate commitment and flexibility, which is looked upon favourably by employers.

Global companies will be interested in you 

International companies operating in Australia love to employ people who speak their language. Australian companies also often require workers to travel overseas, explore new business opportunities or greet overseas visitors.

Boosts your confidence

Learning a language improves general speech and presentation skills in your foreign language, as well as your native language. In-country experiences accelerate this further.

Memory and multitasking skills 

You will develop a strong working memory through the repetition and consolidation of new knowledge, as well as sharper mental processes as you switch between languages.

Cultural awareness and the ability to communicate well and solve problems are essential skills in the 21st century. These skills are developed in Chinese and German language lessons at Cornerstone.

If your child enjoys learning German or Chinese, encourage them to keep their options open by continuing to learn the language as they progress through high school. The exchange opportunities in the senior years offer amazing in-country experiences. Adding a language to your career direction can literally take you to places you have never dreamed of.

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The 4th Industrial Revolution and the impact on the future of learning

Tony Moffa – Senior School Learning Area Leader

During the Professional Development week at the beginning of the year, teaching staff had the pleasure of spending one day with educational thinker and futurist Louka Parry. Louka’s brief was to challenge us by highlighting the emerging narrative around the future of learning. He modelled the Standford University Design Model, and we developed prototypes of what learning may look like at Cornerstone in the future, based around 5 key provocations.

  1. What do we understand about the pace of change?
  2. How do we allow for more curiosity, self-exploration and student agency?
  3. How might we treat learners (students and teachers) as whole people – learning focusing on physical, spiritual, social, emotional and mental wellbeing?
  4. How might we design a compass with our learners, not build the map?
  5. How might we ask better questions?

As we were discussing the future of learning, we thought it important to include students’ perspective and voice. We invited our Student Leaders to take part in the workshop. More than 20 current and 2020 Student Leaders gave up a morning of their holidays to join the staff in professional learning. Their contribution was insightful and invaluable. Louka is an advocate for student agency and was impressed with our students’ perceptive, mature and honest contribution to our discussion about what learning could be at Cornerstone.

When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the 4th is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. The breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management and governance. Education, without question, is being disrupted by the pace and scale of change.

One aspect of Louka’s presentation that resonated with me, and with most staff, was that even though we have never been more connected (virtually) as a global community, our physical connectedness has declined. This is evident from research highlighting that people have become more physically isolated as they worked or learnt from home during the pandemic. In fact, I am still frustrated by the global community’s call to ‘social distancing’ during the pandemic. Surely, we should be maintaining physical distancing but advocating enhancing our social networks for our wellbeing.

The challenges we worked through with Louka are shown below. Using the Design Thinking Model enabled us to examine our current practices in one of these areas to consider possible future directions as a learning community.

One area we are currently exploring is the development of a whole school model and consistent language around design thinking, a critical competency for the future of learning and work. We have started by unpacking what each learning area currently does in the area and are in the process of creating a Year 7-10 inquiry cycle prototype to be used by all learning areas. We are continuing our work in both the AISSA Learner Profile and Meta-Praxis Projects, their focus being on capturing evidence around the general capabilities. We continue to develop best practice around the challenges of mental health and social cohesion.

I leave you with one of the quotes that Louka uses:

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”. Jane Goodall

The Future of WorkInnovation CapacityEducational AttainmentMental HealthSocial Cohesion
How can education equip all young people with the skills and competencies for rapidly evolving economies and the digital revolution?How can schools foster initiative, resilience and entrepreneurial spirit?How can we improve learning outcomes in all contexts, especially for those children and adults on the margins of society?What can education do to help promote wellbeing and reduce mental health difficulties?
How can we help young people feel confident in their own identities and vested in community at local to global levels?
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Christmas Blessings

Craig Fielke – Principal

This has been a year of undeniable difference and challenge where the essence and value of community has been brought into sharp focus.

I have been so proud of our students and their resolve and capacity to navigate the ebb and flow of the challenges, disappointments, changes and adjustments made due to Covid-19.

I extend my earnest thanks to the families and friends of Cornerstone – you are wonderful partners, advocates and supporters of our College, and your understanding and support of the decisions we had to make this year as we responded to Covid-19 has been deeply appreciated.

The passionate and dedicated staff at Cornerstone are a wonderful blessing to our College. It has been even more clearly evident this year that they have the care and learning of students as their central focus. In trying circumstances, they have shown a strong team spirit, and an unwavering commitment to establish and sustain high quality and respectful relationships with their students. It is a humble privilege to lead such a great team of talented professionals and I express my sincere thanks to them.

May faith, hope, joy, peace and love light your path over Christmas and the holiday period. We look forward to hearing of summer adventures when students return and the 2021 College year commences in a way in which we are more accustomed.

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The journey is more important than the destination

Dale Hoffman | Wellbeing Director

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)

It is hard to believe we are halfway through the final term of the 2020 school year, a year that has presented many challenges and obstacles and also a year that has actively demonstrated the strength, values and thriving nature of the Cornerstone College community.

In the past couple of weeks, it has been a privilege to sit back and watch our graduating Year 12 students complete their final assessments and exams and share with them in the farewell breakfast and assembly. Conversations in the final weeks of their schooling journey ultimately move to focus on our young people’s hopes and dreams for the future as they transition from their being a student at Cornerstone College to a Cornerstone College ‘Old Scholar’.

Whilst we don’t know what life holds for our young people once they leave our College, what we do know is that every young person’s pathway and experiences will be different. However, there are some key messages that each of them and each of us can live and stay true to.

Enjoy the present moment
Life for each us is unfolding in this present moment. Often however, we look too far ahead and miss out on what is already right in front of us. Enjoy every unique and individual moment that comes your way, as you will never get the chance to live that moment again.

Celebrate your progress
Don’t wait for the end point to celebrate your achievements or to feel good about yourself. Be proud of the progress that you make every step of the way. Every small milestone that you achieve deserves recognition.
When is the last time that you celebrated your progress? What was your achievement and how did you celebrate yourself? If you can’t answer this question, it’s time to start acknowledging your accomplishments. This is an integral part of falling in love with the process.

Live your life purpose
We must all trust and believe that we are here for a reason. We are all unique and each of us has something to offer the world. Live your life with purpose and when you do this you will become the best version of yourself.

One of my favourite quotes is ‘the journey is more important than the destination’. Throughout our journey there will be celebrations, challenges, heartaches, achievements, struggles, joy and so much more. Our journey is our story and each moment that takes place along the way is simply a new chapter being written.

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Culture’s Intrinsic Value

Jacinta Smart | Arts LA Leader/Educator/Aboriginal Education Focus Person

Recently an article on the ABC’s The Conversation website about the intrinsic value of the Arts caught my attention. An excerpt is below:

Arts and culture make important and varied contributions to the national economy and social cohesion. But the reason they do so is because of their intrinsic value. This arises in two forms.

Firstly, our culture is a steady source of thoughts, feelings, stories, images and moments which coalesce and collectively define us – what the philosopher John Searle called “the background”. Culture brings us pleasure, connection, meaning and joy, and in the current situation that’s a significant contribution to our narrowing lives.

Secondly, and even more crucially, it is where we may find our best selves. To act in a creative way is to act generously. This is not to say that artists are better than anyone else, or that creativity is the sole preserve of the arts. It is to observe that to be creative is to give to others through a selfless impulse to share, and not just a desire to monetise that relationship as an economic transaction.

It has been a challenging year all round and the Cornerstone College Arts Department have felt the effect of COVID-19 in a range of ways. This year our students and staff have had to forego or re-define many critical learning opportunities, with none of our regular guest arts professionals visiting the College, no excursions to venues, performances and exhibitions, and no conferences or workshops taking place. 

Staff have needed to be innovative in meeting adjusted curriculum requirements in our courses in other ways. Online professional learning and support have been crucial to this change. Atelier space has certainly felt a bit empty without the excitement and energy of guest artists, parents/caregivers family and friends filling our halls. 

Arts events rely on emotional and physical engagement from the audience, and with COVID considerations restricting this movement, we felt the integrity of the experience was compromised. 

With this in mind, it was with great disappointment that we had to cancel so many Arts events this year. Fortunately, we were able to stage the Year 12 Drama Production and the Year 12 Music Assessment Performances with limited audience numbers. The joy which arises from this engagement between performers and their audience was evident in the excitement around the Atelier Theatre. 

Unfortunately, we will not be having a formal opening evening for the Year 12 Art/Design exhibition this year, but friends and family will be able to book time slots for personal viewing of the exhibition. More information is to come. 

An integral part of the Australian Curriculum course descriptions are the following references to the interconnectedness between artist and audience: Students exhibit their artworks individually or collaboratively, present their series to an audience, modify production elements to suit different audiences, evaluate performers’ success in expressing the composers’ intentions and expressive skills in music they listen to and perform. Clearly the public audience plays a big role in bringing the Arts to life, and and we look forward to a dynamic 2021 in Atelier.

I would like to finish with an acknowledgement to all our dedicated Arts staff who have gone above and beyond in finding innovative solutions this year. They are passionate and committed to students learning and achievement. In particular the Music staff: Sophie Zerner, Jess Seyfang, Anthony Janus and Andrew Day have been proactive in making sure the performance aspect of their course could be accessible to the wider community via online recordings. 

In the recent weeks staff have been working to deliver a virtual Cabaret experience to showcase the Middle School and Senior School Music co-curricular ensembles, including Year 12 soloists and special guests. This creative project enabled us to record ensembles in a variety of spaces around the College, including the Atelier Theatre and Music/GLA spaces. 

We also took students to the spectacular UKARIA Performance Centre in Mount Barker for a performance recording. This program will be presented as a high-resolution film product, filmed by Charlie Butler (Year 12) , assistant filming and all pre/post audio production by Matt Cooper (2014); thank you to both.

I hope you were able to view the June Music Showcase and please make sure you tune in for the Cabaret online show. We look forward to seeing you around Atelier in 2021.

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A Creative Influence

Craig Fielke – Principal

On Friday, 21 August the world lost one of the most well-known education thinkers, Sir Ken Robinson, who died at the age of 70 after a battle with cancer. Amongst many reflections, his life was celebrated in a tribute for The Washington Post as “a joyful beacon of hope, calling on us to celebrate and foster the creative human spirit”.

If you have not had the opportunity, it is worth spending a little time viewing two of his most influential TED Talks, ‘How to escape education’s death valley’ and ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ The later has become one of the most watched TED talks of all time, with more than 66 million views. Both orations continue to remain as relevant today as they were when first shared.

A range of skills and disciplines have had to come to the fore as we have individually and collectively responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. One skill has been the ability to think and respond in a creative manner, especially as we have often found ourselves in uncharted waters.

Amongst other things, creativity can help you become a better problem solver, to see things from different perspectives and to deal with uncertainty. Studies have shown that creative people can better manage uncertainty as they can adapt their thinking to allow for the ebb and flow of the unknown.

One of the key capabilities that Cornerstone strategically and deliberately teaches in Middle School and then flows into aspects of learning in Senior School, is creativity. The SACE Board of SA also recognises and embeds creativity within subjects and elements of learning and assessment tasks.

Sir Ken Robinson was at the forefront of getting schools to recognise and understand the challenges old structures and paradigms of education present to enable effective and sustainable learning for the 21st century. He also made educators ponder more critically about thinking and learning, and in doing so enabled us to gain greater clarity about the what, why and how of education.

As stated in the Washington Post tribute, “His influence on the thinking of educators around the world is unparalleled in history and his legacy of critique about schools will have a lasting and profound impact for decades to come. Sir Ken’s loss offers everyone in the field of education an opportunity to honour him by reflecting and acting on his wisdom.”

Sir Ken’s wisdom has been one important source of the journey Cornerstone has and continues to take in providing an environment where learning is valuable, meaningful and purposeful.

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Shane Schoff – Deputy Principal

Learning is at the heart of what we do at Cornerstone. ‘We love, we learn, we grow’ emphasises, not only the value we place on learning, but our holistic approach through caring relationships that promote growth in young people.

It is not just young people who are learning. A thriving learning community is full of thriving learners, teachers and support staff included. Our staff, both individually and collaboratively, are engaged in ongoing professional learning to grow and develop their skills and capabilities to ultimately enhance the learning of students.

All teaching staff develop an annual Professional Learning Plan that is supported by Professional Learning Team Leaders. Each year half our teaching staff present and share their learning at our annual professional learning expo in December.

Culturally, this is an important time for our staff, as it is time prioritised to share and engage in learning with other staff.

A new initiative this year is an opportunity for staff to work collaboratively on a Professional Learning Project.

A number of staff are involved with two projects investigating the following questions:

  • How can we evaluate the impact of our teaching?
  • How can we increase student motivation to learn and appreciate learning?

The longer-term vision is to provide a robust and flexible approach for staff professional learning that strengthens relationships and collaborative skills while building a collective responsibility for improvement.

The aim includes building a culture of innovation in our professional learning that empowers staff to try new ideas and ultimately improve student learning.

When I am immersed in learning I seem to lose track of time. The same happens when others engage me in their own learning. Whether it is student learning or staff learning, there is a strong sense of thriving when we are growing and being stretched in our capacity.

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Graduate qualities

Julie Sampson – Learning Director

Research into the skills desired by employers continues to highlight the various capabilities that are needed in the 21st century. For example, Forbes Media (April 2020) highlighted the top 5 soft skills desired by employers as critical thinking, data literacy, tech savviness, adaptability and flexibility and creativity.

Similarly, LinkedIn (January, 2020) researched their vast network of employer information asking the same question. Their findings showed the top 5 desired capabilities are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence.

University and training courses are developing these capabilities more intentionally in their programs, more so than ever before. For example, university medicine and some other medical courses no longer simply rely on the ATAR for gaining entrance.

Students undertake the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) as well, which includes sections on verbal reasoning, decision making, abstract reasoning and situational judgement. The new Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (University of Adelaide) includes first year units on design thinking, entrepreneurial mindsets, decision making and innovation and creativity.

The Certificate III in Hairdressing has units on communication skills, creativity, design and planning and problem solving. These are just some examples across a range of different training opportunities.

As a college, we will do our students a serious disservice if we are not rethinking our approaches to teaching and learning to ensure there is intentional inclusion of capability development in our programs.

Hence, the teaching staff have been reviewing our philosophy of teaching and learning at Cornerstone and are naming what we see as the key graduate qualities for our students at Cornerstone College. As parents/caregivers, and for educators, we recognise the shift in education from focusing mainly on the traditional 3Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic (1970s), through a growing focus on social education and environmental awareness (1980-90s) to now focusing greater intention on capabilities (21st century).

  • Our initial set of goals are that graduating students at Cornerstone College will:
  • Know they are valued, unique and loved by God
  • Demonstrate resilience, embrace change and persist with challenges
  • Possess relevant skills and knowledge in preparation for future opportunities
  • Use their heads, hearts and hands to respond to the needs of others
  • Be active citizens who champion diversity, are environmentally responsible and act ethically
  • Think critically and creatively and are curious, collaborative and reflective
  • Show initiative, communicate clearly and work effectively as independent learners

I share this now as many students over this coming term will be thinking about their future, choosing subjects for next year, enrolling in university or TAFE courses for 2021 and looking for apprenticeships and other work. Students can also consider what the employers are indicating as key capabilities for employees in the 21st century.

As we (teachers and families) support students through these considerations, we can assist students to consider the capabilities they need to develop, not just discuss subjects.

Students can consider what are their natural capabilities but also what new capabilities will they need to focus on or develop further given the future pathways they are considering?

We wish our students entering Year 10, 11 and 12 in 2021 all the best as they plan for next year and their future beyond college. For those choosing their path through Senior School, we challenge them to consider what capabilities they may require, not just the content of subjects that they think they might need.

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How applying for jobs is changing in the digital world

Meg Molenaar – Learning Area Leader – Cross Disciplinary Studies

As the world becomes even more digital, we are seeing significant changes to the way people apply and interview for jobs. We need to be aware of the changing ways businesses are looking for candidates, hiring candidates and using technology to streamline the process.

In Workplace Practices, we are always monitoring the changes occurring in the ‘real world’. As we have a task centred around applying for work and undertaking a ‘mock interview’ we need to ensure our activities mirror the changing ways people are advertising for candidates and candidates are applying for work.

Many large corporations no longer ask applicants to send in paper resumes and application letters and sometimes they also don’t even want you to send them in via email.

They have online applications that look for key words to streamline the process for them.
State of the art Artificial Intelligence (AI) software can quickly and efficiently analyse resumes and applications. This sophisticated technology automatically picks out details such as key skills, job history and even (if appropriate) whether a candidate is willing to relocate or not.

Combining this intelligent software with hands-on training and excellent analytical skills, recruiters are equipped with all of the tools to find the most appropriate candidates – without needing the actual copy of your resume.
With more people browsing and applying for jobs on their mobile devices, most job boards and application forms are now optimised for this platform.

For example, services such as ‘LinkedIn Apply’ allow users to simply read a job description, click apply, and their resume is sent to the company in the requested format.

Mobile technology is also being used to make the job hunting process less daunting and labour intensive. New job hunting apps have the functionality that allows you to quickly and easily tailor job applications anywhere, at any time, from the palm of your hand.

For example, on the SEEK mobile app, you can:

  • Upload up to 10 tailored resumes to pick and choose from. For example, order your previous experience so that most relevant roles appear at the start of your resume or list your interests with an eye on how they fit in with the specific roles you’re applying for.
    Tailor your cover letter right in the app or upload different versions from cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive
  • The traditional Portfolio is quickly being replaced with sophisticated ePortfolios. People can now put together copies of their certifications, qualifications, job history and samples of their work in visually appealing websites that can easily be accessed by potential employees.
    Add to this social media websites such as LinkedIn, that are tailored to business and the need to carry around a paper resume and portfolio is quickly diminishing.

It’s important to remember however, that despite the rapidly changing technology, in many cases the old rules still apply. There’s no substitute for a perfectly crafted resume that clearly demonstrates your suitability for a role. The technology just enhances the ability for you to do that more conveniently.

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The story of the eagle

Craig Fielke – Principal

Here is an inspirational story of the eagle, which I found at

The eagle has the longest lifespan of its species and can live up to 70 years… but to reach this age, the eagle must make a hard decision. In its 40th year its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food, its long and sharp beak becomes bent and its old aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, stick to its chest and make it difficult to fly.

Then, the eagle is left with only two options; die or go through a painful process of change which lasts 150 days. The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. Then the eagle waits for a new beak to grow back.

It will pull out its talons and when new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its old aged feathers. After five months, the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for 30 more years.

This story helps us to consider why is change needed? Many times, in order to survive, we have to start a change process. We sometimes need to get rid of old memories, habits and other past traditions. Only freed from past burdens, can we take advantage of the present.

This is a wonderfully inspirational and motivational story and can be found on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. It seems a story worth sharing.

But the story is not true, it is a fake story.

Eagles do not live for 70 years, more like 30 in the wild, they do not lose their beak (it would lead to certain death) and they never go through a rebirth stage. You can read more about the debunking of this story at

A recent study found false stories on the internet are shared more often and more widely that real stories.

Over the last six months it has been very evident that clear and accurate information has been critical for our communities to respond to the directions and advice of people in authority we trust. This has enabled us to collectively make wise choices and be assured of the pathway beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a source of truth to make considered and wise decisions is important.

The Bible is the most read piece of documentation in history and its authenticity has been proven categorically.

  • Amongst other validations of this are the following factors:
  • The sheer number of manuscripts.
  • The small time-gap between events and written history.
  • Because of the manner of textual transmission (the accuracy of the copying process) down through history.
  • By verifying documentary evidence from other written sources and archaeological corroboration.

At our heart as a College we want our community to continually hear, investigate, understand and be transformed by this wonderful, true and life changing story.

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Mathematical Skills

Bruce Lenger – Learning Area Leader, Mathematics

In recent times I have had the opportunity to spend some time living and teaching in the United Kingdom. This experience enabled me to see a different approach to education, and in particular, Mathematics. 

The school I taught in, like many in the area, had a mastery orientated, skills-based approach to the teaching of Mathematics. This approach tried to emulate the success of countries such as China and Singapore in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Mathematics rankings.

PISA is a study that assesses 600,000 15-year-olds from 79 countries every three years, comparing Mathematics, Reading and Science performance. Whilst PISA is a “test”, some see it as a way to compare educational outcomes in our global economy where our children may well compete for careers with other children from all over the world.

Whilst this mastery approach did lift the UK Mathematics rankings above Australia’s, the PISA test did, however, highlight a very interesting fact. Whilst UK students performed better (on average) in recalling and using curriculum-based factual and procedural knowledge, Australian students performed better (on average) in applying general Mathematical and Scientific principles and skills to everyday problems.

As it happens, global company Dyson has its headquarters in Malmesbury, the town in which I lived and worked. James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, has decided to create his own university to help train engineers to work in his company.  

The entrance to this university is determined not only by academic performance but also an ability to think creatively and work collaboratively. It is a university where both the knowledge and application (creative use) of Mathematics will be the focus, because Dyson desires to develop engineers with a balance of knowledge, practical application and creativity. 

It is my personal belief that good Mathematics classrooms contain a mixture of these different aspects of Mathematics as well.  

Like Dyson, we at Cornerstone College believe that a good Mathematics classroom not only develops important skills but also helps them to approach Mathematics with the understanding that these skills be applied creativity and collaboratively to help solve challenging problems.

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What have you learned and realised?

Dale Hoffman – Wellbeing Director

For many people in our own community and across the world the impact of COVID-19 has been significant and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that have had their livelihood or health affected by experience.

Recently I have wondered if as a society we will truly learn from what has taken place in 2020 or will we quickly forget about it once it is over and return to our previous ways. Our challenge as a society is to learn and take something out of each of our experiences.

I wonder what we will take out of the COVID-19 experience and will we be able to look back on this as a time in our lives that strengthened us and changed us.

As I reflect on the events of 2020 to date, I have come to learn and realise some of the following things and this is only a small sample of my thoughts.

  • I have realised how much I appreciate the freedom that we have in our beautiful country and how I have possibly taken that freedom for granted.
  • I have learned to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and through this I have become a stronger and more resilient person.
  • I have realised how important my relationships really are to me. I miss catching up with my friends and family and going out to dinner.
  • At the same time, I have learned to be content with having time alone and I have come to appreciate that.
  • I’ve realised how busy my life use to be and more importantly how that busyness is actually not sustainable and needs to be re-assessed.
  • I have realised how adaptable and resilient our young people and our staff are.
  • I have realised that whilst Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings have served a purpose, they quite simply cannot replicate the feeling you get of being with people in a room and that sense of deep human connection.

A saying I have heard many times in the past few months is ‘I can’t wait for things to get back to normal’. When I hear this, I think to myself; Was life before COVID-19 really normal, or had we just conditioned ourselves to believe that is was normal?

If we heave truly learned anything from 2020, then we will take this opportunity to create a ‘new normal’, that is better, more sustainable and one that each of us will truly appreciate.

So, I ask you: What have you learned and realised? And how will this shape and change who you are and what you do?

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you – Philippians 4:9

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Craig Fielke – Principal

The year 2020 began with such hope and anticipation for the commemoration of Cornerstone College’s 30th anniversary and the number of opportunities to reminisce and celebrate.  I am sure, like me, many of you had other hopes and expectations from a personal, family and professional perspective. 

There is little doubt that Term 1 has seen our lives changed by the news, response and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the challenges we have all faced in many facets of our lives and to varying degrees, it can sometimes be difficult to clearly see the way forward and envisage our future beyond our current reality.

Many of you would have experienced an opportunity to connect with Dr Tom Nehmy in his engagement with Year 8 students as part of our Healthy Minds approach to student wellbeing. You can see Tom’s story and the essence of his works at  

One key strategy Tom shares to manage our emotions effectively is to ask ‘the magic question’, which relates to considering what the most helpful thing is to do in a particular situation you find yourself. This term, we have all found ourselves in quite different and unfamiliar situations, and consequently navigating a range of options and decisions.

Sometimes this has been very difficult and may have left us with a diminished hope, anticipation and expectation for the future. I think one answer to ‘the magic question’, is to continue to have hope. 

I have found the following actions to be helpful in maintaining and sustaining hope.

  • Acknowledge and validate my feelings, seeking support as needed and trusting my capacity to persevere 
  • Commit to being optimistic in the midst of the reality and challenge
  • Seek ways to be grateful in daily events, actions and experiences 
  • Look for and share kindness and thoughtful connections with family, friends and colleagues

I also find my personal faith an enormous source of maintaining and sustaining hope. Lutheran Media, an arm of the Lutheran Church, has some wonderful resources that are worth investigating and engaging in with respect to hope. The messages of hope scan a wide spectrum of life and can be found at

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?  My hope is in you.”
– Psalm 39:7

We look forward to seeing student’s happy faces when they engage with our Online Learning Environment on Monday, 27 April.

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Learner Profiles

Tony Moffa – Senior School Learning Director and Project Leader

Current discussions in education circles regarding the reliability of a single score such as the ATAR has fuelled debate at the education and employment level for new ways of recognising attainment in learning that is more valid and reliable.

A Learner Profile, highlighting skills, attitudes and predispositions the student has demonstrated could give tertiary institutions and employers a more rounded tool with which to assess applicants to possibly be used together with an ATAR rather than just a score alone.

In the above possible exemplar, as students engage and progress through their secondary education, they are given opportunities to demonstrate predispositions (general capabilities) from thinking creatively and analytically to demonstrating integrity and ethical decision making.

The idea for a learner profile wheel highlights to the intended audience, be it the student, parent or prospective employer, the student’s strengths as well as areas that could be, or need development. In this example the student has demonstrated strengths in leadership, teamwork, integrity and ethics but also has gaps in their global perspective as well as analytical and creative thinking. What I like is that the student has the opportunity to focus on areas requiring attention in the available credits offered by the curriculum (as shown below).

Featured Credits:

  • 7b Foster integrity, honesty, fairness and respect
  • 3b Lead through influence
  • 3c Build trust, resolve conflicts, and provide support for others
  • 3g Coordinate tasks, manage groups, delegate responsibilities
  • 3h Implement decisions and meet goals
  • 8e Persistence

(Source: Sandra Milligan, Assessment and Research Centre at the University of Melbourne, 2019)

The rhetoric for too long has been around schools abandoning the explicit teaching and learning of the 3 R’s for the sake of focussing on developing capabilities. I argue that we can still and should be doing both. Why? Because that’s what employers and academics are telling us students need. The world Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school will find themselves in occupations that don’t currently exist.

My son recently began a new job in a large multinational company in Melbourne and his interview was a group exercise where they were given a problem, in this case how to deal with a product line that was losing market share. The group had one hour to come up with a plan to solve the problem.

His group was observed, and assessment decisions were made on his, and the group’s ability to demonstrate the aforementioned predispositions, not what grade he got for subjects in Year 12 or in Business Management at University.

He was fortunate to progress to an interview and at that point was informed that if he was the successful candidate the company would teach him what he needed to know on the job, what they couldn’t teach was how to collaborate, think creatively and make ethical decisions.

Our challenge as educators is twofold;

  • How to create opportunities for students to demonstrate these capabilities, and
  • Making valid and reliable assessment judgments on how well they demonstrate them.

This year Cornerstone is one of four independent schools selected by AISSA in conjunction with the South Australian Principal’s Association, Catholic Education SA and the University of Melbourne to conduct a pilot project on Learning and Accreditation Through a Learner Profile. This aligns with our Future Direction 2020, strategic vision which has at its core, the development of the 21st century dispositions.

“Our aim is for all students to achieve individual excellence which, in turn, empowers them to flourish and contribute to an ever-changing world”, Cornerstone Future Directions: 2020 & Beyond.

As pointed out by Peter Mader, the SA Secondary Principal Association President in The Advertiser on Monday, 3 February, “the aim of the project is to develop valid, reliable and useful assessment of the ACARA General Capabilities”. (Source: The Advertiser, SA schools to work with University of Melbourne on ‘learner profiles’ as ATAR alternative)

SACE is also heavily invested in exploring the way potential graduates present their achievements to the world as outlined in The Advertiser article last October.

I am looking forward to being involved in the project as part of a team of our staff and sharing with our community how this will help shape our direction for learning at Cornerstone in the future.

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The Strength of Community!

Dale Hoffman – Wellbeing Director

Many of you would be familiar with the African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”, meaning that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.

This proverb perfectly captures my first impressions of Cornerstone College in my new role as Wellbeing Director.

We are indeed a thriving community and in my first few weeks I have witnessed the community in action through year level parent evenings, Year 12 meet the teachers evenings, enrolment evenings for future students, Battunga House Focus week and the ongoing work of the Parents, Teachers and Friends committee.

Community is so much more than just one-off events. It is about collaboration between parents/caregivers, students and staff to provide the best possible outcomes for all of us. Having consistent expectations, values and understanding is pivotal in our community as it ensures that our young people receive a strong and consistent Christian based education.

A great strength of the College is our commitment to Pastoral Care. Our House System seeks to develop and create ‘communities’ within ‘communities’, so that students develop positive relationships with each other, and families develop relationships with appropriate staff.

Teaching and learning are often viewed as the core business of an educational institution; however, we must provide a holistic education that focuses on the spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical development of our young people.

We should never take our community for granted and the College is continuing to identify ways in which we can strengthen our community partnerships. Shortly we will undertake a consultation process with all key stakeholders to assist us in developing a Code of Conduct for all community members. We ask that as valued members of our community you take the time to engage in this process and provide feedback when requested.

Cornerstone College acknowledges and appreciates the amazing efforts and ongoing work that staff, families, students and volunteers do within our community. We are on this journey together, where We Love, We Learn, and We Grow.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought – Corinthians 1:10.

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30 Years

Craig Fielke – Principal

This year, Cornerstone College will be commemorating 30 years since our establishment. This is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our past, appreciate the present and consider the possibilities of our future.

Throughout 2020, there will be a number of events to reminisce, celebrate and reconnect with the people who have been part of our journey from 1990.

At last week’s Opening Worship, a number of thoughts and reflections revolved around birthdays and identity. There is little doubt that one element of our individual identity can be found in our birthday. It is linked to a time, place and people within our lives, and as we know, is often celebrated with things like kind words, cards, parties and presents.

Now, not all presents are equal and some we may find not entirely to our liking. The idea of regifting is a relatively modern phenomena, which entails the passing on of unwanted gifts to another ‘very fortunate’ friend or peer.

A recent study found that some of the most regifted presents include candles, gift cards, houseware, clothing, bath soups, gels and cream, books and perfume.

My birthday is coming up in March and I hope not to be given some of these ‘regifts’, especially the perfume.

So, what of Cornerstone’s 30th birthday and our identity? Well, these are things that we will celebrate and explore in 2020.As a starting point, it may be worth briefly reflecting on the statement you see in our College publications and communications:

We Love, We Learn, We Grow

This was developed a few years ago and was chosen for a number of reasons, including:

  • ‘We’ signifies our collective involvement and responsibility.
  • They are words of action and provide an aspiration for all regardless of individual abilities or talents.
  • They encompass the heart, head, hand and soul.
  • It is a contemporary and succinct way to express some core aspects of our College ― our mission, values, learning, wellbeing and our identity.

So, as we begin another school year, and we look to celebrate our 30th birthday, I encourage us all to explore, recognise, understand and live out who we are as a College and the essence of our identity.

Putting into action our identity is a ‘gift’ worth regifting and passing on, as it will make a purposeful difference in our community and beyond.

May God bless our learning, teaching and support in 2020.

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The Educator Innovative Schools Awards 2019

Craig Fielke – Principal

Cornerstone College has been recognised as one of just 44 schools across Australia in The Educator’s Innovative Schools Awards for 2019.

The Award recognises schools at the cutting edge of change and innovation in Australia. In particular, Cornerstone College was recognised for the innovative teaching and contemporary learning practices of the Middle School.
“The inspirational programs and initiatives showcased in the report prove that quality teaching is alive and well in Australian schools.

It should be noted that the report only offers a small snapshot of the ground-breaking work being done in these schools to improve the educational outcomes and wellbeing of Australia’s young people.” Brett Henebery, Editor of ‘The Educator’.

Cornerstone will always have a strong and deliberate focus on underpinning core skills connected to numeracy and literacy, and specific subject disciplines.

The College has been working to enable a more integrated approach in lower Middle School, with an ability to utilise team teaching, when appropriate, across the learning areas of English, Science, Mathematics and Humanities. Teaching teams are given allocated time to plan, prepare learning experiences and moderate student work.

These subjects are integrated using lines of inquiry such as ‘Fake News – How can we identify the truth?’ or ‘Contagion – Will we survive the next major pandemic?’

A more intentional and purposeful approach is also being taken to teach the General Capabilities of The Australian Curriculum by using a ‘6Cs model’ of Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Control of Learning and Connections.

The 6Cs have been deconstructed and taught so students know how to improve in these capabilities.

The Middle School has also moved to an assessment model where learning progressions based on the Australian Curriculum achievement standards are used.

The goal is to have learning progressions used across the Middle School so that teachers, parents and students can clearly see a student’s current individual learning level, recognise growth in the student’s learning and know what the next steps are for progress.

The flow, scope and sequence into and through Senior School has also been an important consideration and driver in our Middle School teaching model.
Students continue to develop the necessary understanding within specified learning areas and subjects, whilst building a greater understanding and capacity in skills and dispositions necessary for the 21st century.

I am extremely proud of the outstanding expertise, commitment and care demonstrated daily by the staff at Cornerstone College, and the quality of the learning experience they consistently provide.

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Craig Fielke – Principal

During the recent holidays, our family had the opportunity to spend some time on the Gold Coast. As part of this holiday, we were able to relive and experience the excitement and fun of a range of activities, which were part of another holiday when my children were much younger. I particularly enjoyed a full day at Wet’n’Wild and the daily walk along Mermaid Beach.

Reflecting on the week, the Queensland slogan Beautiful one day, perfect the next came to mind, and seemed quite apt, if only for this small window of time. Slogans are one way all Australian states try to provide an imagery of experience or an aspirational intent and purpose. At the induction of the 2020 College Leaders, I shared again the essence and heart of the words We Love, We Learn, We Grow, and how our thoughts, words and actions can be guided and shaped by our understanding and commitment to this slogan. From a spiritual perspective, the following bible reference can provide some insight about how we could enact We Love, We Learn, We Grow at Cornerstone College.

We Love:
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others make mistakes, takes pleasure in the truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, ut keeps going to the end. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

We Learn:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and reflect on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling and gracious − the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized − Philippians 4:8-9

We Grow:
As Jesus said: I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in Him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. − John 15:5

May God bless our teaching, learning and support for Term 4.

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Alcohol and Drug Education

Andrew Day – Acting Wellbeing Director

Students in Years 10, 11 and 12 were privileged to hear Paul Dillon from Drug & Alcohol Research and Training, Australia (DARTA) speak on Monday, 9 September. While Paul’s presentations included some confronting, and sobering stories at times, his research-based information, non-judgemental approach and engaging style ensured that the message was thoughtfully received. I am confident that our young people came away from these sessions with greater knowledge and several protective strategies for them and their mates regarding alcohol and drugs.

The DARTA website has excellent resources, information and summaries of the latest research in this field. It is interesting to note the positive trends relating to alcohol use amongst young people, as seen in the following excerpts from the DARTA website:

2017 ASSAD data released: School students and alcohol and other drug use

December 2018

The Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey examines school-based young people’s use of licit and illicit substances. The findings are mostly positive, particularly when it comes to alcohol and tobacco. The number of 12-17 year olds who reported never drinking alcohol increased once again to more than one third (34%), up from only one in ten in 1999. Non-drinking appears to be increasingly seen as a viable option for young people.

More Australians are changing their drinking behaviour by quitting, drinking less or drinking less often.
A PDF version of the 2017 survey results, together with a Word and PDF version of the 2014 report, is available on the Australian Government’s National Drug Strategy website.

October 2018

New research from La Trobe University found that 30% of Australians recently reduced the amount of alcohol they drank and a further 29% reduced the frequency of their drinking, while 6% quit altogether. Most interestingly, those in their 20s were leading the way in reducing alcohol intake, citing lifestyle reasons such as work, education and family as to why they made the change.

“Most surprisingly, we found that intoxication is not as acceptable as it once was, with more than a third of 14-30 year olds who had quit drinking doing so because they dislike the impact alcohol has on their social experiences,” said lead researcher Dr Amy Pennay.

“They believe in moderation, they are concerned about violence and they want to avoid drunkenness or genuinely dislike how getting drunk makes them feel.”

I encourage parents to open the following links for direct access to more interesting facts and information from this excellent resource.

To further support the education of our students in this area, we are pleased to have the Encounter Youth Education team present seminars for Year 8s (Regard the risks), Year 9s (Know your limits) and Year 12s (Safety at Schoolies) on Thursday, 26 September.

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30/30 Vision

Craig Fielke – Principal

In 2020, Cornerstone College will celebrate the first 30 years of being a part of The Adelaide Hills community. The College has consistently been guided by the foundational mission of being “…. a caring Christian community nurturing within students a growing relationship with Christ which promotes individual excellence, learning and responsibility for life.”

This has been both an aspiration and inspiration as “We Love, We Learn, We Grow”, and underpinned by our strategic intentions and master planning. The decisions and directions taken to continue to be true to that enduring mission and to sustain the high-quality learning for which Cornerstone College is renowned does not occur by chance.

Amongst other elements, outstanding educators and continuous investigations and assessment of the world we live in now and will encounter into the future help guide and direct the future.

One such source of important information to reflect upon comes from my membership of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia).

I invite you to take the opportunity and time to browse and reflect upon the current landscape in which we make important decisions in how and what we do at Cornerstone College. I welcome your comments and thoughts as we journey into the next 30 years of Cornerstone College:

  • The OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 project offers a range of resources to support policy shifts in education based on projected future skills needs, including the Learning Compass a framework that defines the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that learners need to fulfil their potential and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities and the planet.
  • The OECD’s Centre for Educational Research Innovation hosts an ongoing project, Trends Shaping Education Resources include a series of briefing papers.
  • Google for Education has published a report, Future of the Classroom: Emerging Trends in K-12 Education, which identifies eight emerging trends: digital responsibility; life skills & workforce preparation; computational thinking; student-led learning; collaborative classrooms; connecting guardians and schools; innovating pedagogy and emerging technologies. The report offers links to research and further reading.
  • The 2018 NMC Horizon Report focuses on trends in higher education. Key trends identified in the short-term are a growing focus on measuring learning and redesign of learning spaces; mid-term trends are proliferation of open educational resources and the rise of new forms of interdisciplinary studies long-term trends are advancing cultures of innovation and cross-institution and cross-sector collaboration.
  • An article published by GettingSmart, Preparing all learners for an uncertain future of work discusses a framework for work readiness developed by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation and offers suggestions for how schools and tertiary institutions might ‘flip their focus’ to help students prepare for the future.
  • KnowledgeWorks has also published Forecast 5.0: Navigating the future of learning which identifies five trends likely to transform teaching and learning: the automation of choice; the rising power of engaged citizens and civic organisations; neuroplasticity; new measures of success and reshaping of communities.


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Embrace challenge

Jamie Cameron – Acting Deputy Principal

Most educators will be very familiar with the work of Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), a Soviet psychologist and social constructivist who introduced the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

In recent years the ZPD has been referred to as the zone where students can learn, with support. One role of education is to challenge students, thus working in their ZPD. This applies to academics, but also extends into social and emotional benefits as the young person is confronted with new knowledge and experiences.

As learning occurs, the child’s current achievement will grow, and more complex learning, previously beyond reach, becomes closer and perhaps even achievable with support.

We want our students to embrace challenge and know that it is okay to sometimes not be okay. Again, only by stepping out of the safety of what they already know can students fully grow. Some challenges may be unwanted, but by leaning into them more skills and strategies can be developed.

Life is complicated and seldom smooth. By stepping out of their comfort zones, our young people are preparing for what is ahead. Don’t rescue them, allow them to experience challenge and develop strategies in the safe and supportive environment of the College.

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Intercultural Understanding

Julie Sampson – Learning Director

Over the holidays I was very fortunate to travel to Mauritius to volunteer at Lighthouse Christian School. This is the school at which colleagues Matt Pearce and Kristen Felgate-Pearce are presently working for two years.

I travelled with fellow teacher Deanne Bovingdon and another teacher friend.

Matt is the Head of Secondary School and Kristen is volunteering in the school three days a week.

It was wonderful to visit another school in another culture, to meet Mauritian and ex-pat teachers who are equally committed and professional in their work, and to learn about a new culture.

Both English and French are national languages so I was also able to practice my French, which I learn as a hobby. In many ways, teenagers are the same the world over. Lighthouse Christian School has a similar curriculum to us, their students enjoy sport, complete (or don’t complete) homework, face major exams to complete their high schooling and teachers deal with similar student and classroom issues to what we do.

Also over the holidays, Pastor Al visited Nepal on a trip with fellow Lutheran pastors. And the Habitat for Humanity team travelled to Fiji to serve the community by constructing two buildings.

This week we have 25 Chinese students and two teachers visiting as part of our reciprocal relationship with our sister school in Beijing.

They are enjoying some outings with our students to see the sights of the Adelaide Hills, a homestay with a family and interaction in classes.

Why does Cornerstone involve itself in such activities, as a school, in student groups and as individual students or teachers?

Encouraging our students to look outside themselves, to their local and global communities is an important part of developing global citizens who give back to their society.

One of the Australian Curriculum and SACE capabilities is Intercultural Understanding. We desire to build in students an appreciation and respect for other people’s social and cultural backgrounds and to learn about the diversity of our nation and the world.

By having the opportunity to learn about other cultures, serve through school programs or to take up exchange or broader volunteering opportunities, students and staff have the chance to consider how their own values, languages, beliefs and morals compare to those of other cultures.

A broader intercultural understanding of our society is an essential part of living in the 21st Century in multi-cultural Australia, in the workplace and in our communities.

Through explicit teaching in subjects and extra-curricular activities, we encourage our students to express empathy, respect, and responsibility towards other people.

We are called as Christians to respect others and to serve in our communities. We have unique gifts that we can share, and serving others further develops our understanding of them and of our gifts and talents.

Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. (1 Peter 4:10)

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Craig Fielke – Principal

Whilst I particularly enjoy watching elite sporting events, over time I have found it increasingly difficult to engage with the sport of tennis.

The monotony of baseline rallies, the screeching and grunting of combatants and the embarrassing antics of a growing number of players (and unfortunately a significant quota of Australian players) has dulled my enthusiasm.

Against this trend, during the recent Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday, I was heartened to experience the incredible success of Ashleigh Barty at the French Open.

Barty started playing tennis at the age of four. She had an impressive junior career, winning the 2011 Wimbledon girls’ singles title and reached No. 2 in the junior world ranking.

Upon entering the professional ranks, she had immediate success in doubles, reaching multiple Grand Slam finals in 2013. However, she grew disillusioned with the rigours of the sport, and in 2014 announced that she would be taking a break from tennis.

Barty then proceeded to play competitive cricket, representing Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League. She returned to tennis in 2016, after realising that she missed the sport too much.

Beginning at a world ranking of 623 at the beginning of 2016, Barty steadily climbed up the ladder in both singles and doubles on the WTA tour, and after the recent success of winning the French Open, is currently ranked No. 2 in the world.

Much has been written and said about Barty’s ups and downs, and the reasons and motivations for her choices and ultimate return to tennis. Determined, tenacious, honest, persistent and courageous are some of the words that have been used to describe Barty.

From my perspective, what has been equally highlighted, and in many ways exceeded her sporting achievements, is the manner in which she interacts with her world.

These are some words reflected by her friends, peers, coaches, sporting opponents and wider public, of which the world saw many in the recent fortnight in Paris. They include: humble, gracious, respectful, empathetic, thoughtful and kind.

Ash Barty has begun to rekindle my interest in tennis and provides a timely and enduring reminder to us all about the importance of healthy core personal values.

These are the sort of qualities that build, strengthen and sustain relationships and the communities in which we live. It is these qualities I wish for us all to continue to recognise and endeavour to be a part of our interactions regardless of our other abilities.

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What We Want for our Students

Tony Moffa – Senior School Learning Leader

Recently I had the privilege of attending the Scholarship Ceremony for the Adelaide University Principals’ Award to see Jacqueline Smith (2018) receive her award.

This scholarship is for new University of Adelaide students of high academic merit who have also made a significant contribution to their school and/or wider community.

Jacqueline met both criteria by taking responsibility for her learning, setting high standards and maintaining a balance between academic, social and community life.

Increasingly, tertiary institutions and employers are valuing the contribution young people make to their world and not just how well they do academically. What stands out in Jacqueline’s resume, besides her well organised and self-directed approach to learning, is her involvement in extracurricular activities and interactions with a wide range of people. In other words, her willingness to connect.

This led me to ponder what we want for our students when they depart through the gates of Cornerstone at the end of six years of secondary education.

An article I read recently by Michael Fullan on Deep Learning, makes the point that with the introduction of high-stakes comparative testing, like the Program for International Testing (PISA) and NAPLAN, we have had a frenzied approach to increasing achievement scores and lost the sight of the human wellbeing goal of connectedness.

Similarly, Vygotsky (1978) believed that learning does not occur in isolation, rather it is a social process, guided by interactions with others.

At Cornerstone we continually strive to find the balance between supporting students and creating an environment that challenges them, while fostering goal setting and collaboration in their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

For those unfamiliar with Vygotsky’s theory, the ZPD is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help.

From Fullan’s perspective we need to redefine the moral imperative to have “high expectations for all students in both academic performance and in connectedness in life”, or in other words having healthy connections in one’s life.

So how do we go about transitioning students from being reliant, to independent and interdependent learners?

I believe the teacher’s role is to facilitate the learning process rather than direct it, by creating an environment that fosters goal setting and collaboration in the learner’s ZPD. This, I hope, provides students opportunities to develop from teacher reliant into independent learners and live out our learning vision to Wonder, Think and Act.

For those wanting to find out more about Michael Fullan’s ideas around Deep Learning, I recommend his book, Nuance: Why Some Leaders Succeed and Others Fail, A Joint Publication With the Ontario Principals’ Council and the B.C. Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association.

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Second-class robots or first-class humans?

Shane Schoff – Deputy Principal

Martin Westwell (Chief Executive, SACE Board of SA) led a workshop at Cornerstone with our staff recently, challenging us to consider how we could redefine our understanding of student success.

To provoke our thinking, Martin borrowed a line from Andreas Schleicher – Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills. According to Schleicher, society’s preparation for the future of work is wrong. We’re scared that human jobs will be replaced by robots. But we’re still teaching kids to think like machines.

“What we know is that the kinds of things that are easy to teach, and maybe easy to test, are precisely the kinds of things that are easy to digitise and to automate,” Schleicher said. It’s fairly easy to teach and test maths skills, for example – but robots happen to be pretty good at maths, too.

Children can, however, imagine, create, question, and collaborate in ways that robots cannot. These are the skills that Schleicher wants the world’s education systems to emphasise.

“The advent of artificial intelligence should push us to think harder of what makes us human,” he said, adding that if we are not careful, the world will be educating “second-class robots and not first-class humans.”

How do we build capacity in young people to grapple with a problem and develop perseverance or to deal with uncertainty and risk?
How do we promote entrepreneurial thinking (the pursuit of opportunities beyond the resources you currently control)? Martin suggested a core capability in our curriculum should be titled ‘getting stuff done’ to emphasise the importance of actions.

Entrepreneurial thinking enables us to do things that are beyond the capacity of machines or robots. Things like creating a new company, leading a new social enterprise or devising a theatre production that captures the hearts and minds of others.

With emerging opportunities in South Australia like cybersecurity or space industries, the skills that young people will require are skills that are beyond technology or artificial intelligence. Knowing stuff is important, but just having knowledge is insufficient.
Martin Westwell highlighted the need for expertise within disciplines while also building the capacity for interdisciplinary actions. It is the capabilities in the Australian Curriculum like interpersonal and social capabilities or ethical and cultural understandings that enable young people to connect and collaborate.

At Cornerstone, we seek to nurture individuals, who are aware of their humanity and are open to the influence of the Holy Spirit. As a Christian community we are passionate about growing capabilities in young people that enable them to do so much more.
Our challenge is so much more than educating first-class humans. Just look at our Mission Statement, “We are a caring Christian community nurturing within students a growing relationship with Christ which promotes individual excellence, learning and responsibility for life.”

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Student Wellbeing

Jamie Cameron – Wellbeing Director

It is widely accepted that positive wellbeing is crucial to student success and there are numerous factors to consider as we promote wellbeing at the College. This includes reviewing literature on best practice nationally and internationally; and gathering data on the specific needs of our own students.

Last term, students completed the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection survey to measure wellbeing and engagement in the Middle and Senior School. This is the first year the survey has been offered in Years 10-12 and will build upon the understanding collated for Years 7-9.

The survey results increase our understanding of each cohort at the College and allow us to identify trends. For example, comparisons over time and between year levels or gender. There are analyses with students across South Australia and their key wellbeing and engagement issues in terms of trends over time.

As we await the results from this year, we know that the 2018 data outlines a marked difference in the wellbeing of Cornerstone students in the four variants of bullying when compared to all South Australian students.

It suggests the College has achieved some success in combatting bullying. This may be due to our extensive Restorative Practices approach or certain policies, such as the removal of phones from Middle School students at the start of each day.

Of note is that 86% of Cornerstone students in 2018 report high wellbeing when surveyed about cyberbullying, compared with the state average of 78%.

Yet there is always more to do. Student wellbeing is an ongoing venture in which we are all stakeholders – parents, educators, the students themselves and the wider community.

It is our aim that our young people can learn to understand themselves and others, and manage their relationships, lives, work and learning effectively.


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Emma Reiger – Gifted and Talented Coordinator

At Cornerstone, we strive to build a culture of challenge and excellence whilst fostering a spirit of curiosity in our students.

One unique way we do this is through our students requiring extension through challenge (STRETCH) program.

STRETCH is a program which allows our gifted and talented students to connect with each other across a range of year levels.

Every day, students can engage with carefully curated educational resources from around the world; learn about the latest scientific discoveries; consider ethical dilemmas in our modern society; and explore topics of interest across an incredibly wide range of subjects.

Through engaging with this program students also develop strong friendships with like minded students, encouraging intellectual, social and emotional growth.

For example, during Term 1 students have explored amazing careers in the field of mathematics; pathways to computer science careers; and how batteries work.

They also listened to educational STEM podcasts and so much more.

STRETCH is a program that allows a highly individualised approach to learning.

Students are extended and enriched across a range of disciplines, and are encouraged to pursue their interests and passions, sharing these with their peers.

Extension modules are available to any student of the College who wishes to access them.

STRETCH is just one way we encourage students at Cornerstone to be visible and successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens of the world.

We would love to invite you to explore just a small sample of the resources that have been shared with our STRETCH students at STRETCH at Cornerstone website.

We encourage all students engaged with STRETCH to check in every few days to see the constant flow of new material.

Please don’t hesitate to make contact with the College if you would like more information about any aspect of STRETCH.

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Digital Technologies

Nathan Gray – Technology Learning Area Leader

I remember as a child helping my parents to program the video cassette recorder (VCR). Fast forward 25 years and I still find myself helping my parents. However, unlike my parents who let technology pass them by, being a teacher in this area requires me to stay up to date with emerging technologies so that I can teach the most up to date curriculum.

It is suggested that as technology continues to evolve, up to 40% of Australian jobs could become automated processes by the year 2025. For this reason, it’s essential that students develop a sophisticated understanding of digital technologies to equip them for life.

Digital Technologies is a relatively new subject that falls within the Technology Learning Area. At Cornerstone College, it is a compulsory subject throughout Middle School and is offered as an elective in Years 10-12. Digital Technology can be described as any technology that is controlled by a set of digital instructions, many of which we use daily such as personal computers, mobile phones and smart tv’s.

Where the previous curriculum model, Information Technology, focused on digital literacy (the ability for students to use digital technology effectively), the new Digital Technologies curriculum extends this by focusing on how digital technologies work, how they are created and how they are coded.

For students to be successful in each of these areas, they need to be able to demonstrate general capabilities such as creative thinking, problem solving, logical planning and critical evaluation. These capabilities are embedded in student learning and are transferrable to many life and work situations.

While not all students will leave school to become full-time computer programmers, there will be many jobs emerging in the next 20 years that will rely heavily on the skills, knowledge and capabilities students gain from studying Digital Technologies.

To ensure students are adequately prepared for these jobs, it is important that we vary the types of coding environments and languages they experience. Some of the languages currently used at Cornerstone include Scratch, Python, C++, Java and Lua. These languages are used to control different devices including Sphero Robots, Computer Programs, Mobile Phone Apps and Arduino Microcontrollers.

While we are currently using up to date digital technologies at Cornerstone, it’s extremely difficult to predict what will evolve in the next 20 years.To put things in perspective, approximately 20 years ago:

  • The first Apple iMac was announced yet there were no iPods, iPads, iWatches or iPhones. In fact, the most popular mobile phone on the market was the Nokia 5110
  • Google was founded (1998) but Alta Vista was the most popular search engine
  • Social Media was very limited. There was no Myspace (2003), Facebook (2004) or Twitter (2006) let alone Instagram (2010) and Snap Chat (2011)
  • Microsoft launched Windows 98. There have been 9 versions and countless editions launched since

This flashback suggests that what we are currently teaching in Digital Technologies will not be current in 5, let alone 20 years’ time.

To ensure Digital Technologies remains current at Cornerstone, we’re constantly evaluating and updating teaching programs and resources. This allows us to engage and challenge students with different technologies, preparing them for the future and giving them the skills to succeed in this digital age.

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Healthy Minds

Craig Fielke – Principal

Cornerstone College continues to be privileged to maintain and extend our connection with Dr Tom Nehmy. For the last four years, Tom has led and facilitated the Healthy Minds Program as part of the Year 8 curriculum. During Term 3, students and their parents are provided with information and tools to understand and utilise such concepts as:

  • The keys to understanding the function of emotions, and the most helpful ways of navigating our emotional lives Psychological flexibility
  • Realistic thinking
  • Self-compassion as an antidote to self-criticism (and why this is far more important than self-esteem)
  • Challenging the unrealistic media ideals that promote body-image dissatisfaction
  • The cultivation of gratitude as an every day perspective (it has been shown to improve sleep, immune system function, and wellbeing)
  • The motivational techniques that change problem behaviours into helpful, healthy, and high-performance behaviours

I strongly value the work of Tom, and the tangibly practical means to access and embed the habits that make an ongoing difference for our wellbeing.
Tom’s work has been internationally recognised and his Healthy Minds Program for schools is continuing to gain attention and momentum, and Cornerstone will continue to explore ways to stretch and deepen the program.

At the beginning of this year, Tom spent a day with our staff to further explore and share ways to support ongoing staff wellbeing. This included resources and an initial 30-day challenge to reflect upon and practice the habits deemed critical for an ongoing healthy mind. This will be an enduring focus for our staff.

Many of the underlying values, structures and practices across all year levels at Cornerstone can be matched as elements of Tom’s Healthy Minds framework, and during 2019, our Wellbeing Director, Jamie Cameron, is working with a small focus team to better map and express these connections.

Parents of Year 8 students would already be aware of what is planned for Term 3, which includes a Parent Forum on Tuesday, 23 July from 7pm. I strongly encourage all Year 8 parents to attend this evening and encourage other parents who may be interested.

You may also like to visit The Healthy Minds website

The educational landscape is continuing to evolve, and as we refine and redefine the essential components, careful consideration of the underlying research and worthwhile outcomes is prudent. Wellbeing is one such component and one we deeply understand at Cornerstone College and know is critical for the sustained health and learning of our entire community.

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Education in Focus

Julie Sampson – Learning Director

I love photography. I grew up taking photos with my Dad’s camera and eventually bought my own Minolta SLR, both of which used film. There was that anticipation in waiting for the 24 or 36 photos in print from the local store, often times to only find that some of the photos did not turn out as expected.

Then came the digital camera. What a revolution for the avid photographer! I am now free to experiment, craft and edit my photography without the limitations of film. I can be the picture storyteller I love to be as a photographer.

Did you know that the first digital camera was invented by Kodak in 1975! However, Kodak was worried about protecting their film business, and missed the opportunity to move successfully into the digital age. “Unfortunately, the company had the nearsighted view that it was in the film business instead of the story telling business” (Forbes, online, Jan 2012). Kodak missed asking the right question and now have sold off any connections to cameras and photography, and only exist as a printing enterprise for business.

What is the right question to ask about education in the 21st Century? What are schools about in 2019? Are schools there to teach subjects, to impart information? Do we teach skills? Is our role to prepare students for their ATAR? Are we preparing students for their future vocation in the workplace?

For example, did you know that only approximately one quarter of all university students gain entrance via their ATAR? The Mitchell Institute reported that the ATAR is becoming less and less relevant as a tool for university entrance. This includes school students applying to universities.

If this is the case, what is our future role as a school, given that schools, families and media have placed a great deal of emphasis on structures, curriculum and methodologies to support gaining an ATAR and on academic success to get the highest possible ATAR for university entrance?

Without the constraints of prescribed curriculum, what would schools do to enhance the development of life-long capabilities in our students? Capabilities, more than specific information, will serve them better at university, in the workplace, in community activities and as valuable citizens of the global society. This is the new growing focus of SACE.

We will continue to value appropriate content and encourage students to strive for their best, but will the focus in education remain what we as a society have become accustomed to for a long time? We don’t want to be a ‘Kodak’ school and miss the opportunity.

This week the SACE Board has confirmed their renewed focus on the Research Project as a valued part of student’s learning. The subject will be reviewed from its current format but is confirmed as remaining an important component of the SACE.

Additionally the SACE Review conducted last year recommended the need for reduced content so that students can focus on deeper learning and opportunities to specifically develop the capabilities. In the SACE, these capabilities include creative and critical thinking, personal and social capabilities, ethical understanding and intercultural understanding.

Cornerstone College’s focus on the 6Cs (creativity, communication, connection, collaboration, critical thinking and control of learning) in Middle School supports and flows into the SACE capabilities in the Senior School.

We will continue to develop richer and deeper understandings as to how to develop these skills in classes. Hopefully the ongoing focus on these in the wider educational world will result in decisions that reduce the current crammed curriculum and allow students to explore their capabilities in greater depth.

It is not about dropping the content completely, but rather having a focus that allows students to explore their own deeper learning to develop core capabilities that will take them into their futures.

We await with interest the ongoing developments at SACE and in the tertiary sector, as the value of the ATAR is reconsidered and, hopefully, other meaningful measures are put in place to support those students who do wish to do further study.

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Adaptive Education

Natasha Cass – Adaptive Education Leader

Adaptive Education is an integral part of schooling at Cornerstone for many students. The care, support and flexible space are accessed by students from years 7-12 at various times throughout the day.

Once students enter their secondary school years, it is not unusual for them to begin wondering what the future holds. Are they able to complete their SACE certificate?

Will they find a job? Through Modified SACE programs and Life Skill lessons, the Adaptive Education staff cater for the needs of students. This practise makes a difference in students’ lives and adds value and enrichment to the curriculum offered at Cornerstone.

In senior school students work towards completing their SACE certificate. The SACE Board provides flexibility for schools to make reasonable adjustments in curriculum and assessment to enable students with disability to access and participate in SACE programs, and associated assessments, on the same basis as other students.

However, to meet the learning requirements of our high needs students, the SACE Board makes available a set of modified subjects.
Modified subjects are highly individualised subjects in which curriculum and assessment are designed around the development of one or more SACE capabilities and personal learning goals that are appropriate for the student.

This year students are engaging in a variety of modified SACE subjects tailored to enrich learning and improve learning outcomes. Adaptive Education staff design, write, resource and implement these highly demanding programs based on individual need.

Students are currently involved in the following subjects:

  • Modified: Business and Enterprise
  • Modified: English
  • Modified: Creative Arts
  • Modified: Maths
  • Modified: Research Project
  • Modified: Health

Running these programs allows students to achieve their SACE requirements, develop a sense of belonging and nurture self-respect as they are provided with opportunities to achieve success equal to their peers in a main stream school environment.

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Find Your Passion

Shane Schoff – Deputy Principal

Has anyone ever encouraged you to find your passion?

Find your passion and you will never have to work a day in your life. The idea here is being immersed in a passion won’t feel like work. Time flies when you are doing something you love. I love teaching, and time always disappears when I’m in the classroom.

Perhaps you have found something that you thought was your passion. Something that you initially loved doing, but then you have a ‘high gravity day’ – a day where gravity feels stronger, and you start to question whether you have really found your passion.

A fixed mindset can lead us to think we should always be highly motivated about our passions. Where did my passion go on a high gravity day? Maybe this isn’t my passion?

Finding your passion also implies that there is a thing out there that we can find. It is just waiting to be discovered. This type of thinking is based on the idea that our passions are fixed.

Carol Dweck (psychologist), in her book Mindset, poses an interesting question – What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?

If you believe that your traits are unchangeable – the fixed mindset – you will want to prove yourself correct over and over rather than learning from your mistakes.

In Mindset, Dweck writes: “There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts”.

A growth mindset creates a powerful motivation for learning. Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, Dweck writes, when you could be getting better?

Stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of a growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

Finding your passion is not about uncovering a hidden super-power. Finding your passion involves wrestling with challenges to grow and develop capabilities. It is often through challenges our passions emerge.

And, interestingly, the greatest challenge that Christ faced, the cross, is what we refer to as the Passion of Christ.

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Jamie Cameron – Wellbeing Director

Resilience is the ability to deal with challenging situations; being able to sustain some form of balance in our lives when things get tough.

According to Psychotherapist Joshua Miles, developing greater resilience includes the following benefits:

  • Improved learning and academic achievement
  • Lower absences due to sickness
  • Reduced use of risk-taking behaviours such as excessive drinking, smoking or use of drugs

When our young people navigate their way through challenges at the College, they are practising in a safe environment. As they make mistakes and are given the opportunities to learn from these mistakes, they build resilience. If others step in and fix things for them, their resilience development is impaired. Resilience can be learned in the usual way – practise.

It is important students learn what it feels like to be under pressure or to make errors, so when it happens in real life they are more experienced in dealing with it. Teachers and parents all want young people to become independent and balanced, fulfilling their potential. Allowing, even embracing, discomfort in the short term is necessary to maximise wholistic growth into the future.

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Dux of the College, 2018

Amy Hein – Dux of the College, 2018
Amy is pictured with Principal, Craig Fielke (left), her mother Merrilyn (right) and Learning Director, Julie Sampson (far right).

On Wednesday, 30 January we congratulated Amy Hein on being awarded Year 12 Dux, 2018.

Amy gave a wonderful address to the school which can be read below:

“I feel extremely humbled and honoured to have achieved the Dux award for the College in 2018, as there were a number of students that worked incredibly hard throughout the year and achieved exceptionally high results as well.

Cornerstone College has both taught me so much and offered me so much support throughout my entire schooling, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank some people specific to my time in Year 12.

Firstly, to my parents. Mum and Dad, you have quite literally been a part of my schooling every day, and done so many little things that have helped me out. Thank you for supporting me in following my passions and interests and forgiving me for getting slack about doing the dishes throughout Year 12.

To my friends, I can’t thank all of them enough. They have been with me for some of the happiest memories I will treasure forever and have supported me whenever I needed help. They are all so very special to me, and I hope to continue doing life with them all.

To my Year 12 teachers – Mrs Kennedy, you accommodated for a new art student in Year 12 and taught me so many life skills through your passion, also passing that passion on to me. Mr McDonald, your unwavering belief in me encouraged me through difficult patches, and your humour certainly helped to brighten Year 12 General Maths. Mr Brazzalotto, you were rightfully a harsh critique of my work, and I appreciated your wisdom as I strived to achieve my best. Miss Zerner, forever the optimist, you made light of the dullest moments of music theory, and constantly supported me in and out of the classroom. Ms Willis, you have been such a caring Home Group teacher throughout the last 3 years as well. I cannot thank each one of you enough for your support throughout Year 12.

A special thanks from me must go the Music department here at Cornerstone. The opportunities and experiences that music has gifted me throughout high school are immeasurable. If ever you have the chance to be involved in music and ensembles here at Cornerstone, grab the chance with both hands!

My most important thanks must go to our Heavenly Father. God has played such a massive role in my life. With God, there is no judgement, there is no bar to measure up to, no expectations for so-called ‘success’ – he accepts you just as you are.

With God, I feel loved and supported throughout any circumstance. Actively pursuing God totally changed my outlook and purpose in life, and I attribute all of my talents and successes on earth to Him.

How did I do it? Well, generally in the lead up to Year 12, you would have been told to prepare yourself – complete your prerequisite subjects, do subjects you have done before and been successful in, and stick to your subjects.

However, in Year 12, I took up Visual Art, a subject I had dropped in middle school, I changed Maths classes 8 weeks into the term. I kept myself busy with extra-curricular activities such as Music, and kept busy with dance lessons, catching up with friends, and church life.

In the lead up to Year 12, I found that, for me to do well, I needed to be happy and to stay positive. And I found that I could achieve this by keeping balanced. It was just as important for me to have healthy relationships and a healthy mind and body as it was to have a healthy-looking report card at the end of it.

And I achieved this by doing a variety of subjects and things outside of school, not just sticking to highly academic textbook subjects or focusing just on homework.

My point in telling you this is to show you that there is no recipe for success, or for a high ATAR. That being said, I don’t think true success in life can be measured by a number.

You probably hear it all the time that your ATAR won’t matter after the initial reaction, and I’d definitely agree.

I’m incredibly proud of every one of my close friends and peers that worked their hardest and got into the course they dreamed of, no matter the number.

Rather than my grades, I am proud of my experiences, from getting involved in as much as I could. I am proud that I pushed myself and put the maximum effort into every opportunity.

Finally, a big welcome back to all students! Whatever year level you’re in, you’ve got this one year, one year to make it count, whether that be trying out every elective in middle school. The Journey Year 10 experience, or whatever experience you have lined up for this one year.

Why are you here? I mean, why are you really here right now?

Maybe you’re excited about this year, maybe you’re dreading it, but this year is an opportunity, and it will really be what you make of it. School is an opportunity that we are lucky to have available to us here in Australia. You are blessed, you are privileged, you are loved.

Make yourself proud, make sure you make time to make yourself happy, and make others happy too. School may not necessarily be easy, but it’s also not going to be unenjoyable if you get out there and make the most of it.

You don’t have to excel at school by any means, but what you do here, and what you put in to your schooling, is going to define what you do out of school now, and out of school later.

As for me this year, I have enrolled in a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing at Uni SA. I’ll be continuing to pursue music in other areas of my life. I am continuing my casual job, as well as picking up dance teaching and singing teaching at a primary school level.

Cornerstone College has shaped me and helped me grow so much into who I am today. It has pretty much been my second home for the last 5 years, and I’m definitely sad to leave. You’re not leaving yet though – so make the most of it! Thank you.”


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Character Traits?

Matt Pearce – Middle School Learning Leader

Recently I sat down and watched the film Hacksaw Ridge. I had read much hype about this film and I had been putting off watching it because I didn’t want to be disappointed.

I shouldn’t have waited so long! The story is based around the life of Desmond T. Doss, a man who despite his objections to war and the killing of people, joined the US Military during World War II as an Army Medic.

By refusing to bear arms on religious grounds, Doss was ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life – without firing a shot – to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa.

We all have stories of people who we admire because of the character traits they display, often in times of difficulty or conflict.

Focussing on developing these traits in adolescents provides the foundation for them to be good citizens when they mature into adulthood.

A learner will seek to:
1. Know and display good manners to all
2. Understand the difference between equity and equality
3. Have the courage to admit mistakes
4. Demonstrate an attitude of service to others
5. Work at their highest capability
6. Acknowledge and celebrate the success of others
7. Show compassion and empathy where possible
8. Act with fairness
9. Show love and be willing to receive love
10. Appreciate beauty, quality and mystery.

It might be a worthwhile conversation to have with you child/ren about what character traits you see in them and also spend time sharing stories of people who have inspired you to be a better person.

“By doing this, we can build this generation into people of character, who are courageous, humble, empathetic, act fairly and serve others. The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in time of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge an controversy.”  – Martin Luther King

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To 30 Years and Beyond

Craig Fielke – Principal

I would like to thank the contribution from our community in helping to develop our strategic plan – To 30 Years and Beyond.

We are in the final phases of aligning key statements to achievable action plans, and the living document will be published for the beginning of the 2019 school year.

One exciting theme that flowed from our consultations is the opportunity to build upon the ongoing developments the College has sustained since being established, by reviewing our current, and recreating a Master Plan for the next 5-10 years of the College.

The Cornerstone College Board is in the process of engaging expert external advisors to support the discussions and preparation for the next phase of master planning for the College. During 2019, the College community will be consulted to capture the hopes, dreams and visions that will provide a foundation for our future planning.

The Master Planning Project will enable us to continue to deliver and provide a unique learning environment that allows an holistic approach to learning, a distinct sense of belonging for students, clarity in understanding and capacity to explore, create and innovate.

It is also vital to recognise that relationships are crucial in developing a sense of wellbeing and a focus on learning, and that we continue to create an environment that is connected, stimulating and empowering.

By utilising research, consultations and networking with a wide range of experts, students, staff and families, we will be able to continue providing rich and deep learning experiences for our students well into the 21st century.

I look forward to the invaluable input from our community over the coming months.

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