By Pitsa Binnion
Pitsa is the principal at McKinnon Secondary College in Victoria, Australia
Our school culture is one based on the principle of community. We’ve created a hub – one that is fuelled by what I often call the ‘McKinnon Magic’. It brings our community together and encourages teachers and parents to help every child see what success looks like and to understand the responsibilities of being part of our community. Every one of us needs to do our bit to raise resilient kids who, when confronted with difficult choices, make the right decisions.
Our children have a strong sense of belonging and appreciation of their social responsibilities. They have empathy and compassion. They are very resilient and are learning to cope with the pressures that will inevitably come their way in the rest of their lives.
We care about our kids every minute of the day. We know who they are. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We encourage them to be involved in activities beyond the classroom that engage them and that they are committed to. We encourage them to interact with their peers and to develop firm friendships. We teach them to have respect for each other in the school. We give them opportunities to shine. our values aren’t just words – they are lived.
We do all this in partnership with our parents and we share in the journey of our children succeeding together. We’re proud that our graduates go on to further study and become immersed in thinking about how they can make a difference to the world they live in. They learn that it’s not what you do for yourself but what you can do for other people that brings the greatest rewards.
As we share in our children’s journey towards success, we must also share the need to be informed about some of the challenges and temptations young people may face – such as drugs. At the moment I am alarmed by what I see happening in Australian society. Families are being destroyed by drugs like ice. At McKinnon we want to take the opportunity to tackle the problem in an informed way so that we are actively helping shape a community and to guide and support our young people.
Parents need information and to be pro-active about the threat of drugs in their children’s lives. As a parent of two daughters, I myself want to be fully informed and to have open and honest discussions with my children about this threat. To begin the conversations with our children you can use the information in Drugs 101. Leave it on the kitchen bench or on the coffee table and find the right moment to start talking. Find out the facts yourselves so you can speak truthfully with your child.
We can’t ignore the issues confronting our children. I think all parents want to be assured that they have done their best to raise confident, strong young adults who will make the right decisions so they may enjoy the precious life they’ve been given. It is a commitment I know that parents and teachers at McKinnon share. This is at the very heart of the McKinnon Magic.”
We work closely with secondary schools to produce parent information nights that bring together experts, teachers and families to discuss issues covered in our guides. These events are open, honest and invaluable. They arm school staff and parents with information and ideas to start important conversations with teenagers. If you’re interested in holding a panel night at your school, get in touch with us via our contact page.