Building resilient students through gratitude, empathy and mindfulness


​​​©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Thomas' School, Camp Hill (2024).

St Thomas’ School Camp Hill is on a mission to help their students become happier and more resilient.

With dedicated lessons planned each week, thanks to their partnership with the Resilience Project, students at the primary school experience mindfulness activities and learn what it means to show gratitude and empathy.

St Thomas’ School Principal Liam Beatty said this school-wide initiative, launched in Term 1, had been embedded at every level, from students to staff and parents.

“It is an opportunity for us to talk openly about our emotions,” he said.

“Our staff made a commitment to run these lessons across the school at the same time and we are already noticing a difference.

“It is also an opportunity for our staff to nourish their wellbeing, and when they understand that, they can now teach this in class.

“For parents, it gives them the chance to talk to their children about how they are feeling and about what is going on at school and provides the community with a common language.

The Resilience Project, which is current being embedded across three pilot Brisbane Catholic Education schools, focuses on three key pillars proven to cultivate positive emotion which are gratitude, empathy and mindfulness (GEM).

Assistant Principal Religious Education Viv Thompson said she had seen value in the implementation of a “GEM chat” not only in the classroom but at staff meetings and P&F meetings as well.

“We begin each session with a GEM chat. This chat can include questions such as, ‘what made you smile?’ or ‘what are you grateful for today?’,” she said.

It has really empowered our year of gratitude at our school.

Year 5 teacher Beth Carroll said student engagement in lessons has been high.

“I think it’s important for me to be teaching this and for the kids to be learning about it because it connects so well to our catholic school values,” she said.

BCE Senior Manager – Research, Innovation and Impact Dr Brendon Hyndman said wellbeing and learning were intertwined in everything we are aiming to do at BCE over the coming years as part of the new Education Strategy.

“As part of the Innovative Schools for Impact program, we have partnered with the Resilience Project across three pilot schools, including St Thomas’ School. Our aim is to help support the school to undertake a staged implementation process and capture the impacts on the school throughout the year,” he said.

“We are looking to help schools capture robust evidence to then support schools across our system to embed effective social emotional learning.

“We’re really hoping the evidence captured from the implementation of these resilience pilots continues to have a positive, transformative effect that inspires joy. The resilience focus ensures we are placing both learning and wellbeing at the forefront of our education approaches.”

St Peter Claver College Riverview and Xavier Catholic College Hervey Bay are also part of the pilot schools receiving support from BCE to capture the impacts of the Resilience Project.


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