Nine school leaders from Victoria have been officially recognised for their dedication to education and professional learning in the annual John Laing Awards for Professional Development, managed by Principals Australia Institute.
Angela Kealy (St Malachy’s School Edenhope), Catherine Misson (Melbourne Girls Grammar), Cheryl Penberthy (Presbyterian Ladies College), Elisabeth Lenders (Kingswood College), Evan Wrobel (Sacred Heart School, Casterton), Jenny Mackay (Dandenong North Primary School), John Richmond (Birchip P-12 School), Joshua McElgunn (St Joseph’s School, Coleraine), and Kathryn Fogarty (Assumption College) had their consistent demonstration of outstanding school leadership recognised at a special presentation in Melbourne today.
Kate Fogarty, principal of Assumption College, accepting her John Laing Award
Kate Fogarty, principal of Assumption College, accepting her John Laing Award
Each of the recipients is an outstanding school leader and has made substantial contributions to education in Victoria through strategic senior leadership roles over a considerable time. They have been responsible for working with other senior educators to build leaders’ capacity.
The John Laing Awards acknowledge principals in every state and territory who demonstrate outstanding leadership in providing professional learning in government, Catholic and independent schools. They celebrate the contribution principals make to support the professional learning and development of teachers and other school leaders.
Set up in 2004, the Awards honour John Laing, a former Tasmanian school principal who worked for PAI (the then Australian Principals Association Professional Development Council). He was the motivating force behind the innovative initiative in the early 1990s to bring principals together for national professional learning projects and programs to support their role as school leaders.
Brief bios of the Victorian recipients follow.
Catherine Misson (Melbourne Girls Grammar)
Melbourne Girls Grammar is widely recognised for its sector leadership and innovation. Under the leadership of Catherine Misson, the school launched the Centre For Educational Enterprise in 2015, a community hub uniting global educators and related professionals through professional learning events, philanthropic activity and shared knowledge. A first in Australia, the centre is working with teachers to build their own enterprise profiles and assist them to build an entrepreneurial mindset. Catherine Misson has driven this initiative passionately and professionally.
Melbourne Girls Grammar has always welcomed international visits and collaboration with schools around the globe and has hosted 10 visits in the first term of 2017 alone. Building long-lasting relationships is important to the school and so under the banner of the Centre For Educational Enterprise it launched the CEE Global Education Network in 2016, creating the opportunity for enterprising schools and partner organisations to learn from each other. The CEE is a beacon for future school leadership and the evolution of purposeful education. Catherine is described as a ‘blue ocean thinker’ by her peers and a very worthy recipient of the John Laing Award.
Cheryl Penberthy (Presbyterian Ladies College)
Cheryl has worked in both government and independent schools for over 35 years. She is a passionate educator who demonstrates a genuine care for staff, students and parents. In late 2016, Cheryl completed the inaugural IPSHA Coaching Leadership Course and is now using this training to coach Heads who have taken up leadership roles. The has provided an exciting new opportunity for Cheryl to further contribute to developing leadership capacity in Victoria’s schools this year.
Cheryl has been an active leader in professional development. Strong relationships with staff, students and parents inspire a collegiately and connectedness at Presbyterian Ladies College. Her staff are encouraged to generate ideas that help to achieve academic and strategic goals, which she supports and affirms publicly.
She has a leadership style that inspires a professional approach. Clear management and leadership structures that support others are very evident in her work and as such, she is highly respected by her peers.
Elisabeth Lenders (Kingswood College)
Elisabeth Lenders has been principal of Kingswood College since 2011 and has a solid track record in school leadership.
Elisabeth believes that the quality of a school is inextricably linked to the quality of staff and that her role as the educational leader is to build the individual and collective capacity of staff to deliver the school’s vision. To this end, she has sought numerous professional learning opportunities for staff, tripling the school’s budget to ensure the appropriate training could be undertaken. She has also made technological innovations, equipping staff with laptops and iPads in line with the college’s goal of being an innovative school. Staff have also been supplied with the skills to help them to transfer technology skills to the classroom.
Elisabeth has been the driving force in establishing a partnership with Billanook College and Cornish College – also schools of the Uniting Church – to provide a collaborative approach to professional development for all staff across the three schools. This has led to the initiation of an annual combined conference with all 380+ staff from all three schools coming together in July each year, providing the opportunity for educators and allied staff to collaborate, share information and inspire each other.
Jenny Mackay (Dandenong North Primary School)
Jenny Mackay was recognised in 2017 for 40 years of service to education. She has been a classroom teacher, Advanced Skills Teacher and Leading Teacher before being promoted to Assistant Principal at Dandenong North Primary School where she has served for a total of 33 years.
Jenny’s achievements in education are too numerous to mention and cover many facets of the industry. In summary her contributions over a long time can be summarized as:
• Her dedication to addressing the disadvantage associated with a lack of English linguistic skills in Non-English-Speaking-Background, primary-age, students at DNPS for the last 33 years as a teacher and administrator.
• Significant and contemporary contribution to education by the creation of bespoke, three-phase English as Another Language program that has served as an exemplar for schools throughout the South Eastern Metropolitan region of the Victorian Department of Education and Training.
• Development of an innovative speech therapy program for disadvantaged students with speech deficits.
• Her contributions as a professional development provider to her own school and to other primary and secondary schools within the South Eastern Metropolitan region of the Victorian department of Education and Training.
• Her leadership of a Community of Practice within the Greater Dandenong Network of Principal Class Employees to create an exemplary school resource and development guide titled: “Spotlight on Numeracy“.
John Richmond (Birchip P-12 School)
John Richmond devotes considerable energy to supporting others and is very influential in Victorian educational circles. He models professional leadership in his small, rural school, his local network and in the wider Victorian context.
John is frequently requested to support other principals and to trial new initiatives because he is held in such high esteem in state school system. He has developed a rich learning environment at Birchip P-12 School by ensuring that teachers and middle level leaders in his school can develop their capabilities to the highest level. He guarantees a focus on the core work of teaching and learning and maximising student outcomes.
Staff at John’s school experience wonderful opportunities for professional development and are challenged to build personal capacity and improve their skills. John ensures his school leaders have the opportunity to be involved in professional development activities beyond the school. He regularly brings a team of leaders to state-wide professional learning events, ensuring they are exposed to bigger-picture thinking and developing their wider aspirations.
Kathryn Fogarty (Assumption College)
In her time at the helm of Assumption College, Kate has sought to significantly transform the teaching and learning focus of the College. She has led co-educational schools in rural Victoria over the last decade and is committed to building strong rural communities through the empowering of the school leaders and staff. She believes strongly in the need to ensure that young staff in particular are being appropriately formed to lead educational change.
Kate Fogarty is regarded by her peers as having significantly transformed the teaching and learning focus since she started at Assumption College in 2015. She has been able to transform the way staff view education. This has had a powerful impact on the way that staff engage with students, interact with peers and use evidence based practices aimed to raise the standard of teaching.
Kate celebrates the leadership actions displayed by others and is particularly very affirming of those who show leadership skills without an official leadership ‘title’. Kate encourages all of her staff to be aspirational, regardless of age, gender or years of service. This has had a significant impact on the mindset of staff. Just this year alone there are 15 teachers from the College undergoing further university study, most in the area of Educational Leadership.
Joshua McElgunn (St Joseph’s School, Coleraine)
Angela Kealy (St Malachy’s School, Edenhope)
Evan Wrobel (Sacred Heart School, Casterton)
The Victorian Association of Catholic Primary School Principals nominated this group of creative principals who have pioneered a regional, three-school partnership; focusing on improving student learning outcomes through a shared approach to staff professional learning.
Joshua McElgunn, Evan Wrobel and Angela Kealy have established a creative and shared professional learning community among the three schools. The schools educate students from across the Grampians region in North West Victoria. This area of Victoria, with small isolated school populations and the tyranny of distance, present particular professional development challenges for schools.
The principals have forged a partnership to enhance learning by embracing these challenges ensuring staff have access to high-level support. Using communication technology, video conferencing, pooling of resources, flexible timetables and combined staff planning meetings the leaders have created vibrant engaged learning for all. The partnership model has enabled all to share expertise, grow leadership, access cutting-edge school improvement strategies and build the capacity and capabilities of all enhancing long term and sustainable school improvement