Our Core Values are a reflection of how we, as a College, go about our daily affairs. Created in 2010, our Core Values are integral to the way that we approach everything from student academics to interpersonal relationships. College Principal, Bill Innes is currently unpacking his understanding of what the Core Values mean for the College Community. This information will be uploaded here as it is released.
Unpacking our Core Values with Bill Innes
At Thornlie Christian College, by the Grace of God, we…
These introductory words are incredibly important in, and of themselves, because they fulfil the purpose of being `identifiers’ – they remind us – and inform others – of who we are and what motivates us.
At Thornlie Christian College – this is a blanket statement. It is all-encompassing, it speaks of a corporate commitment. It includes every staff member, every student and every family who has decided to be a part of the Thornlie Christian College community.
by the Grace of God – this is an incredibly powerful statement. In days gone by, armies would march to war and at their forefront would be a flag-bearer. The flag he carried identified the army. Anyone seeing the flag would know who the army was and what they stood for.
When we claim that, Thornlie Christian College, “by the Grace of God” does certain things, we are hoisting our flag, we are stating our credentials, but most importantly, we are acknowledging the omnipotence of God and our commitment to marching behind His flag!
we… – isn’t it amazing what power one small, two-letter word can have – this word unites us in a commitment to all of the statements that follow. This small word is a declaration of commitment, it is an imperative – we will…
Thornlie Christian College is, by definition, a distinctively Christian College – an attribute shared by many schools in Australia and, in particular, schools associated with our peak body, Christian Schools Australia. At TCC we strive to flavour each part of each day, every lesson, every interaction, with the essence of Christ. It is our aim to reflect Christ in all that we do. In our human-ness – in our fallen-ness, we recognise that we fall short of this ideal, but it is our heart-commitment to continually strive towards this and to teach our students to do likewise.
Our community consists of a majority of what can loosely be termed ‘practicing Christian families’ along with a number of families who, while not ‘practicing,’ aspire to our values and ethos and commit to supporting our College’s Statement of Faith and all that it implies. Within our student body the demographics are similar but it is occasionally the case that children from our strongest Christian families, reach a point where they begin to challenge their faith, to compare their Christian lives against worldly standards. This is not unexpected and it is not necessarily wrong –in fact it can serve as a healthy part of their Christian journey, reinforcing the ultimate power of good over evil – Christ over the world. There is another grouping of students who join us with little more than a superficial understanding of Christ. These students are exposed daily to our Christian ethic and it is our prayer, and earnest endeavour, that the seeds sown during their time with us, will bear a rich harvest in time to come. We want each child to grow to be ‘a person of influence’ as our Vision Statement declares, an influencer for Christ and the lifestyle of love and service that He calls us to.
Irrespective of culture, background, experience, understanding or inclination, each one of us is on a life-journey. At TCC we believe that Christ should be a part of that journey, however it requires a personal choice to allow Him to walk alongside us which then allows Him to work in our lives. Initially our sense of His presence may be sporadic, short-lived and erratic but in time, as we grow to know Him better, His influence spans an ever-greater portion of our lives. As we acknowledge His presence more and more in our lives we desire to know more of Him, and the more we know of Him, the more He influences our lives.
This journey has no end – at least not in this earthly realm. It is our prayer that our students will learn to “Grow in Christ” while at TCC and that they will continue on this journey throughout their earthly lives.
Colossians 2:6-7 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
God loves us unconditionally. He doesn’t say, “If you worship Me, I’ll love you.” Or, “If you go to church I’ll love you.” He loves everyone equally and impartially. God’s love for us is beyond our ability to fully understand, but not beyond our ability to realize, accept and enjoy.
Paul told the Church in his letter to the Romans in Chapter 8:38 – 39: 38 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below, indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This awesome truth has the potential to shape our lives and provide us with our raison d’etre.. (Ultimate reason for being.)
So, if God loves us unconditionally, what implications does this have for us and the way in which we do life? God’s call to us is to follow His example and love one another as He loves us – unconditionally… and this isn’t always as simple as it sounds…
To fully understand the concept of unconditional love we need to differentiate between a Godly sense of love and the natural course of justice on earth. For example, when a child whom we love dearly does something wrong, we are called to respond appropriately as parents and teachers. However, even as we apply appropriate consequences, we continue to love the child as much as ever. Their acts may anger us, frustrate us, disappoint us, cause us deep hurt… but none of this diminishes the fundamental love we have for our child – our love is unconditional.
This should be the case in all of our relationships: child to child, student to teacher, parent to teacher, me to you, stranger to stranger, rich to poor, privileged to underprivileged. As followers of Christ, we are called to look beyond the physical presence and behaviours of those with whom we come in contact, to see the Godly flame of life that burns within them.
As I reflect on life within our College, I never cease to be amazed at the complexity of the relationships that exist within our community. Whenever we have to deal with an incident, be it bullying, cyber-bullying, disrespect or some such, we are essentially dealing with a situation where one or both participants have shifted their focus away from unconditional love, to conditional love (or lack of love altogether).
At Thornlie Christian College, it is our aim to model and teach unconditional love to all in our community. We are human and we fall short of our goal more often than we would like to remember – but we persist in our spiritual growth every day. God loves us despite the fact that we get it wrong from time to time. Therefore we love every student and member of our community – in all circumstances.
In dedicating our lives to modelling God’s unconditional love to all, we in turn reap a harvest of rich relationships and a teaching and learning environment that is tangibly different.
`Strive for Excellence’ There are two powerful words in this short statement – Strive and Excellence.
Previously I have written that every single word in our Core Values had been carefully weighed, valued and chosen in order to best represent what we want to say about our College. We would like people who visit our College, either in person or via our website or even via the random conversations that take place ‘out there’, to know about us.
So what do these two words tell the world? Well, firstly they tell us that at Thornlie Christian College, we aspire to Excellence. To fully understand what this means we need to understand that from our Christian perspective, Excellence is not only about perfect scores or full marks, even though these are highly desirable. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, about each of us using our God-given talents to the best of our ability, about trying our best even when we aren’t the best, it’s about growing the resilience that energises us to carry on when all we really want to do is stop or give up.
The motto underpinning our theme of Excellence is: “Excellence is love in action.” Love, the love that Jesus showed us and taught us in the Bible, the love of God that underpins all that we do, is the motivating force behind our Striving for Excellence.
The Bible verse that underpins our theme of Excellence, 1 Cor. 10:31: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God” clearly and unequivocally directs us, whatever we do, from the most mundane of tasks to the most important, we are called to do it as though we are doing it for God Himself!
This brings me to the other word in our fifth statement: Strive. This is the ‘action word’ in the statement – what we term the ‘driver.’ The dictionary gives this definition of the word: “to compete resolutely to achieve or gain something.”
We, as teachers, want to model this to our students and we want our students to live it out in all aspects of their lives – to drive hard to gain something of value in every situation in life – and we do this, first and foremost, because it is the God-honouring thing to do.