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Ms Jaya Srinivas OAM, Annual Awards Ceremony Speech

Monday, 14 Dec 2020


A powerful message from the wonderful Ms Jaya Srinivas.

Friday 11 December 2020
Annual Awards Ceremony Speech - Ms Jaya Srinivas OAM

Good afternoon and Namaste Hon Member for Nightcliff Natasha Fyles, Board Chair Nathan Reichstein, Board members, Principal Brian Kennelly, founding member of Essington Prof. Graeme Webb, Staff, Parents, and Students.

We meet on Larrakia land and I pay my respects to past, present and emerging elders.

Brian, I thank you for your very kind invitation requesting me to attend the Awards ceremony this afternoon. Looking around the Convention Centre, I am filled with a great sense of pride to see the sea of blue and to see so many of you gathered here today to mark the end of a successful school year.

Looking back - it was 1994 when I joined Essington. At that time, Essington was a school with a student population of less than 200 and an annual turn-over of around $70,000. Little did we know, at that time, harder times were to follow. Looking back, it fills me with a sense of dread to think that we almost came to closure in 1998 due to financial complexities. Imagine our world today, if the thousands of students and families who have come to Essington since then did not have that opportunity. This includes everyone in this room today. I wonder what that would have looked like. By 2016, with grit, determination, and vision, we would grow to have a student population of more than 1,200 wonderful students and register a turn-over of nearly $24 million.

This is a credit to our entire school community. I remember the time when those on our team went over and above the call of duty to do those not so little things that kept the school ticking along! I remember we even cleaned the floors. I remember opening the gates to start the day when we did not have, and when I say did not have, I mean could not afford a caretaker.

I remember our strong Parents and Friends committee and staff who hosted many school fetes, Bunnings sausage sizzles and the like to raise much needed funds for school resources. These are a credit to the dedication, commitment, and desire for excellence of our entire Essington community. We were cognizant of how the wider Darwin Community perceived us. We wanted to be seen as a parent run, high performing, non-denominational, not for profit community school that aligned with the values of the school of when it was formed.

All of this made Essington The TOP Independent School in the Northern Territory. This did not happen by chance. We worked until we got results. We worked until we had a School that we were proud of and to send our children to. As you may know, my daughter came to Essington. It is a result of this work that we created this rich and vibrant learning environment within which our students could thrive and achieve the most amazing results be it in their curricular or their extra-curricular pursuits. We also built very strong links with our wider community. These results are something that we are all so very proud of.

In 1994 Essington went from Preschool to Year 2. Look at the journey we have been on over the decades to get to where we are today. We have been through several challenges, including cyclones, floods, telecom tower issues, personal challenges, and each time we brushed the dust off and just like the Phoenix we rose to greater heights. Today we face new issues, and tomorrow who knows what we will face, however; I am confident that the foundation we have laid will equip us to continue to deal with each challenge as and when it arises.

We have established over the years a refined and sophisticated world class early years program, which is my passion, based on Montessori theory and principles. Our programs are unique and sets us apart in the market providing an amazing product which in turn sets our students up for an exciting and rich learning journey throughout their years at Essington. And beyond Essington, well equipped to be global citizens.

Now, as I retire and leave Essington in my official capacity, I look forward to a continued and a meaningful engagement with the School in the coming years. I am very privileged to have been part of this amazing journey of the school. In the past few weeks, I have been so touched and moved by the numerous messages I have received from staff and parents and I sincerely thank you all. I will cherish all the countless happy memories of my time at this School. Essington will remain a part of me wherever I go. I look forward to our school's continued and resounding success in coming years.

Looking forward – Essington: No matter how high we climb, let us always remember where we came from. Our rich history is what has helped us make us who we are today. Always stay humble and appreciative of those who have walked the path before you. Keep your focus on where you want to go. The destination is no doubt important but so is the journey to get there.

Here, I would like to acknowledge the immense work of Prof Graeme Webb who had a VISION for Essington when the Montessori Playgroup came into existence way back in the 1980s. We must have a vision for the future. Where does Essington see itself in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years in time. Students: Spend quality time with your family and in particular those elderly members of your family. These special people hold the archives of your family history. They remember the part that each of you play and have played for generations.

There will always be detractors in our lives. Have a core group of friends who will be beside you no matter what as you will be there for them. Listen to your inner voice. More often than not, it will tell you what not to do. Be grateful. Be kind to yourself and others. Be responsible. Don’t feel that you need to have it all figured out, some of us are still trying to figure things out!

To our most senior students who have already completed Year 12. Our School's Motto - To Strive, To Seek and To Find should inspire you in your lifelong journey, to acquire skills but more importantly knowledge and wisdom. Your potential is limited only by your imagination! You cannot stop the future; you cannot rewind the past, the only way to learn the secret is to press PLAY!

Wherever you go you are Essington Ambassadors and always remember to carry with you the values of our school, RESPECT, INCLUSIVENESS and KINDNESS. When you see the word impossible, change it to read I AM POSSIBLE.

I wish you all the very best, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas with a fantastic 2021 and beyond.

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