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Principal, Hospital School Sa

Department for Education

How did you get to where you are today?

I studied a Diploma in Junior Primary Teaching and during my first three years as a teacher, I studied after hours and completed a Bachelor of Education and a Graduate Diploma of School and Community.

I was destined to be a teacher from a young age as my father was a Primary School Principal and my sister and cousin also pursued teaching careers.

I worked as a contract teacher for the first two years after graduating and then won a permanent position at Elizabeth Downs Junior Primary where I learned the importance of quality education for children living with disadvantage.

I won my first leadership role seven years later and most of my career has been focussed on improving outcomes for disadvantaged students. I have been a school leader for over 30 years.

What does an average day look like?

My role at Hospital School SA (located at the Women's and Children's Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre and Windsor Gardens High School) is unique as I lead educational improvement within a public health system. On most days I meet with staff prior to students coming from their wards to the classrooms.

I then attend a multi-disciplinary meeting in the Hospital Acute Psychiatric Ward and work collaboratively with the clinical staff to make decisions that best cater for student's educational needs whilst inpatients and when transitioning from hospital back to school. I visit classrooms and teachers who are working from their student's bedside in wards.

I attend other multi-disciplinary meetings and consult with staff/leaders from the student's enrolled school to assist with their transition back to school.

I also work with our leadership team across the three sites to drive school improvements and meet with not-for-profit organisations to further support our students in all three sites.

What do you love about your job?

I love leading staff who make an obvious difference in children and young people's lives daily. When we teach our students in the hospital classrooms or bedside in their wards, we are a very positive part of their day and they have confidence in keeping up with their learning, even though they are not with their normal classmates.

It's often a chance to give students intensive targeted teaching in very personalised ways as they are working one-on-one or in a small group with our teachers.

Whilst our students are patients, when they are with us they are students who we give a quality education despite their illness and circumstance. We are often the only adults in their lives that are not focussed on their health. We give them the normal experience of teaching and learning, despite being within a hospital and we make sure learning is fun.

I also love being an educator working with clinicians to build the best possible assistance for each patient, as I learn a great deal from my colleagues and provide insights for them about their patients as students.

Why do you do what you do?

A driving force in my career and especially in this role is to make a difference. I act positively and with strength for disadvantaged students, treating them with generosity and kindness and displaying confidence in their abilities and futures.

What do you see are some of the benefits of working in the public sector?

Early in my teaching career it was identified that I had the potential to lead others and I was encouraged and supported in many ways. I was mentored by several great female leaders who modelled creativity, courageous decision making and a constant focus on what's best for the child.

I know that the breadth and depth of our public education system has afforded me many opportunities to learn, build my career and have a positive influence on improving education for our South Australian students.

Why have you chosen to work in South Australia?

I was born and raised in Adelaide and educated in the public education system. Our children who are now adults are also great examples of our SA public education system. I have always been proud to represent the SA Government and view my service to the community as an honourable and very rewarding choice of occupation.