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Principal learns parental engagement lesson in the Wild West

Holy Rosary Primary School principal Noel Dillon travelled to the Centre for Relational Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for tips on getting parents more involved in their children's education.

ZACH HUBBER May 16, 2014 3:30am

Holy Rosary Primary School principal Noel Dillon. Photo: Zach Hubber


Santa Fe, New Mexico does not sound like a typical destination for a first overseas adventure, but that is where Holy Rosary Primary School principal Noel Dillon’s first international journey took him.

Mr Dillon and parent Dean Bibby represented the school and Sandhurst Diocese on a study tour which focused on parental engagement in schools.

The tour was hosted by The Centre for Relational Learning in Santa Fe.

Mr Dillon, one of seven Sandhurst Diocese principals on the trip, said statistics presented to visitors showed 20 per cent of students’ learning habits evolved in a school and 80 per cent outside of school.

‘‘The statistics showed engaging parents to be more involved in school will change those percentages,’’ Mr Dillon said.

‘‘Dads in education was a major focus.

‘‘Statistics are saying one in three children with absent dads are at high risk of committing a crime, suicide or getting involved in trouble.’’

The statistics were based on school communities in the United States.

‘‘The basic philosophy of relational learning is having communities in schools,’’ Mr Dillon said.

‘‘What they’re saying is that there are so many opportunities out there.’’

Mr Dillon said he could see the benefits of having more parental engagement in schools.

‘‘I’ve been in high and low socio-economic communities and both have the same issues when parents aren’t engaged with the school,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s down to the school to be inviting and welcoming; a philosophy of being open.’’

Mr Dillon and Mr Bibby will report back to the diocese and the school community.

Experiencing a different culture was enthralling, Mr Dillon said.

‘‘Santa Fe was definitely interesting. It really is the Wild West with the saloons and the flapping doors,’’ he said.

‘‘You feel like Indians are going to pop over the hills at any minute.

‘‘Seeing another culture and understanding why they do what they do was great.

‘‘Anything you do that’s different and looks at different cultures enhances you as a principal.’’

For assistance, please phone Lifeline’s 24 hour suicide help line on 1300651251. Children aged under 16 can also call the Kids Help Line on free-call 1800551800.

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