Tuesday, 26 February 2013

And the school starts to prepare for expansion

We really are in an exceptional period of the school's history, with major changes to different aspects happening over the next few weeks. I will be blogging about each change, to keep a record of this time in the school's development.

The first organisation change is a move from two houses to the four we will have from now on as the school grows. The two original houses (Darwin & Einstein) will be supplemented with two more (Roddick & Ennis). The students were told in assembly today which house they were now part of, but before that, I spent some time explaining why we had chosen those people. Here is an extract of the assembly that I gave:

So, we are launching the new houses today. You will all find out which house you are in and get a small 'button badge' to wear to indicate this.

The new houses will have staff in charge of them, but these will be some of the new staff we are appointing over the next few weeks, so in the meantime, Mrs Simpson, Ms Mooney & Mrs Cooper will work with the houses. Diploma points already awarded will be re-distributed so that the new house totals will be displayed showing the four houses in the near future ... historic points will still count, as will negative points too....

But before we announce who's in which house, I thought it would be interesting to look at the four people our houses are named after.

Darwin House is named after Charles Darwin, the author of the book 'On the origin of Species', which first proposed that all living things have common ancestors and that life evolved through a process of Natural Selection. Charles Darwin was born in 1809, in Shropshire. The fifth (of 6) children of Robert (a doctor) and Susannah (housewife). Darwin went to University to follow his father and train to be a doctor, but found the lectures dull, so he studied taxidermy in his free time instead. Getting cross with his son's lack of study, his father sent Charles to a different university to train to be a vicar (as a poor alternative career in those days). However, Charles wasn't that interested in this either and preferred to go riding, shooting and beetle collecting (surprising popular then....). This gave him an interest in geology and through friends the opportunity to join a boat undergoing a trip to chart the coastline of South America came up. The two year journey ended up as five years at sea and Charles' interest in beetles and other animals led to him taking detailed notes about everything he found on the trip. This led to him eventually coming up with his famous theory.He died aged 73. Although he was born and brought up in the upper classes of the time, he was an ordinary person, who followed his passion and ended up doing something truly extra-ordinary.

Einstein House is named after Albert Einstein. Everyone thinks that they know this man, but there is much more to him than the myths. He was born in 1879, in Germany. The son of Hermann, a salesman & engineer and Pauline, a housewife. He left school when he was 15. He was, apparently, at school a very quick, bright young student and only left school when he did because his father's business failed and the family moved to Italy. He did go to school in Italy, but didn't get on with school there, later saying that the 'Spirit of learning and creative thought weer lost in a regime of strict rote learning'. Despite this, at the age of 17, he managed to pass the entry grades required to go to university for a maths and physics teaching diploma. He passed and spent two years looking for a teaching job, but ended up working at the Patent Office as a filing clerk. However, he carried on reading and thinking about Physics and was awarded his PhD in 1904. Visiting America in 1933 with his family, he decided not to return to Germany as Hitler had just risen to power. The rest is well known. Despite his current status as one of the most important scientists of all time, Albert was, quite genuinely, an ordinary person from an ordinary home, who did extra-ordinary things.

Roddick House is named after Dame Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, Human Rights Activist and Environmental Campaigner. A businesswoman of the Year among many awards, Ms Roddick is an inspiration to many people. She started the Body Shop from her kitchen table, as a way to make an income for herself and her two daughters whilst her husband was away in South America. That was in 1976. 15 years later, there were 700 stores around the country and in less than another 15 years, there were almost 2,000 stores worldwide, serving over 77 million people. 5 years ago, the company was taken over by L'Oreal. She died in 2007, aged 64. An ordinary person who did extra-ordinary things.

Ennis House is named after Jessica Ennis. Called the 'poster girl' of the olympics, Jessica is an ordinary young woman from Sheffield. She was born in 1986 and is only 27 years old. Her Father, originally from Jamaica, is a painter & decorator and her mother is a Social Worker from Derbyshire. Jessica didn't really get into athletics until she was 10 years old & her parents took her to a summer camp in Sheffield. Four years later, she was winning at national competitions. She continued through school and University & has a degree in Psychology whilst competing seriously in competitions.
In 2008, she suffered an injury that took 12 months to heal, resulting in her missing out on the Beijing Olympics, but she got back into training as soon as she could and the rest, as they say, is history. A gold medal in the London Olympics, and a CBE from the Queen for her athletics achievements.
An ordinary person who did (& is doing) extra-ordinary things.

Four ordinary people, from different times in history, who all ended up doing extra-ordinary things. There was nothing about any of them that would have made their teachers at school say that there was someone who would be known throughout the world for what they did. There is nothing stopping any of you here doing extra-ordinary things and being known by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people if you put your mind to it.

When you find out which house you are in, think about the inspiration the person who your house is named after: can you be an inspiration to others in the same way?

Ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things.