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Welcome to 2016 – our 120th Anniversary

2016 is an exciting year for our School community as St Catherine’s celebrates its 120th anniversary

It was a pleasure to welcome students to School this week and to greet many parents at our Information Evenings, Year Level Morning Teas and at the School gate. Together with staff, I am very much looking forward to sharing this year with our community. The classrooms, sporting fields and Music rooms are now, once again, filled with active and engaged girls.

This year is an exciting year for the School community as St Catherine’s celebrates its 120th anniversary. On Thursday of this week, 4 February, we acknowledged our School Foundation Day with a Church Service at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. 120 years since our Founding Principal Miss Jeanie Hood, opened the doors to a girls’ school in Castlemaine, which is now known as St Catherine’ School, Toorak. Miss Hood’s personal credo – in 1896 – “we aim at turning out not only students but girls gifted mentally, morally, physically to be the woman of the future,” and we continue to realise this vision, 120 years later.

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Producing a Successful Women

During the Parent Information Evenings this week, I shared my interest in some research conducted by Dr Leonie Kronborg, Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in Postgraduate Studies of Gifted Education, at Monash University about the character of eminent women in Australia. Dr Kronborg placed under the microscope (so to speak) the lives of distinguished Australian women, to understand the ingredients needed to produce a woman who society perceives as successful. Perhaps in Jeanie Hood’s eyes, these were the very ‘women of the future’ she was referring to.

The women in Kronborg’s research ranged in age from 40 to 82, and were chosen because they held decision-making positions in myriad fields of endeavour such as law, politics, medicine, academia, social work, acting, anti-discrimination, business and sport.

Despite the women working in vastly different occupations, the study revealed they had many personal, family and schooling characteristics in common:

  • most attended single-sex secondary schools;
  • each grew up in a family where there was an expectation that girls could do anything;
  • they could identify a specific time in their lives when the importance of their talent crystallised
    for them;
  • all had supportive, encouraging parents who enabled each woman to believe in herself;
  • they demonstrated an intrinsic motivation to achieve and had similar psychological qualities –including self-belief, perseverance, work ethic and resilience;
  • each of them wanted to make a difference in society.

Dr Kronborg’s study also concluded that effective schools, and highly supportive teachers, had a pivotal role in each woman’s life by providing opportunities that matched their abilities as well as nurturing their talent and applauding their successes.

I particularly liked the phrase in this research ‘their talent crystallised’ for them. This year, I wish for your daughter to have a crystallising experience at School, where she can understand her strengths, find her voice, enable her passions to come alive and we as a School, can nurture her talent, applaud her success and empower her thinking.

Connecting our Community

Over the course of the next week, I am looking forward to attending the inaugural Global Forum on Girls Education in New York. With over 800 delegates from across the world and approximately 40 colleagues from Australian Schools also attending, it promises to be an outstanding conference. During this week, I will also be hosting a Cocktail Party for 20 St Catherine’s Old Girls currently working and residing in New York in addition to visiting Exchange Schools and attending a Reception with the Australian Consul-General in New York, the Honourable Nick Minchin. During this period, Mrs Ward will be the Acting Principal and whilst new to her position, she will be well supported by the Senior Leadership Team. I have full confidence in their capabilities and look forward to sharing my experiences and professional learning upon my return.

New Parents

I am sure you will all join me in extending a very warm welcome to our new parents who have become a part of our School community this year. A formal welcome will be extended to them at the New Parents’ Evening to be held on Tuesday 9 February.

Best wishes for the new School year.

Mrs Michelle Carroll, Principal

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