World Teachers’ Day

Every year, on 5 October, we celebrate World Teachers’ Day.

I recognise my opinion is somewhat bias, however, I do believe teachers are instrumental in shaping people; some teachers play vastly under-recognised roles in setting high achievers on their paths. By way of example, computer revolutionary Bill Gates, known for dropping out of Harvard, claims of his school maths and drama teachers: “There’s no way there would have been a Microsoft without what they did”.

It was the governess of young Helen Keller (a frustrated seven-year old deaf and blind child) who revolutionised the lives of hearing and visually disabled in 1887. Governess, Anne Sullivan, made a breakthrough when she taught Helen Keller to spell, initially by holding her hand under a fountain and writing w-a-t-e-r- on her hand to make the connection between feeling and words. Keller learnt 30 words that day and began to emerge from a closed-off world.

Closer to home, past St Catherine’s teacher and Principal, Miss Mary Davis (Principal 1950-1971) is remembered for her wonderful sense of humour and encouraging each student to identify their own unique talents. Miss Edna Holmes (Headmistress 1934-1943) was known as an intellectually gifted woman and renowned for her stoicism when relocating the School to Warburton during the Second World War. And Miss Ruth Langley, a Headmistress at only 25 years of age, at the turn of the century was known to be a teacher who was progressive in her thinking regarding curriculum and her impact has touched every aspect of the School values that we instil in St Catherine’s girls today.

The role of a teacher is often compelling and teachers are energised by their mission — to the extent of waking up in the middle of the night to jot down seemingly brilliant ideas or revelations on how to sort out one of the many conundrums.

I have always thought great schools are a reflection of great teaching and in my many conversations with St Catherine’s Old Girls; I have been delighted to learn of the teachers that have been instrumental in shaping St Catherine’s girls over the past 121 years.

Our Speech Night History prize, named after much loved teacher, Mrs Sue Bell, a teacher of great inspiration and encouragement for her students and colleagues. An Old Girl recently captured the essence of her classroom experience with Mrs Bell:

“Some teachers speak and you just listen! Mrs Bell was always able to draw comparisons with our own lives to the lives of people in the Renaissance (for example), highlighting similarities and differences, gaining perspective and real understanding and empathy for their scenario. She also made us laugh, and have fun.”

There is also recognition of teachers who have believed in the capacity of their students and their ability to rise to the challenge. One Old Girl spoke of the influence of Mrs Johns throughout her education at St Catherine’s in the 70s:

“I always believed that I was not a gifted English student. I had Mrs Johns for the last three years of school and she encouraged, challenged, and taught me to think it through and try harder. She just didn’t give up, and believed in me a lot more than I believed in myself. I did well in English in the end because of her dedication.”

At St Catherine’s today, we have magnificent teachers who are great activators of change for girls and who enhance their students’ learning immensely. I watch frequently teachers who tell girls to be fearless, teaching them how to harness the storm of adolescence and encouraging them to question and believe in themselves and their abilities.

And the qualities in those teachers are always the same: an acute interest and belief in students, a desire to challenge them and the power to inspire and uplift.

Over the holiday break, our VCE teachers had a very visible presence in the School Library. They hosted tutorial lectures, read draft essays and remained in contact via email with feedback and advice. They listened to mock orals in readiness for the VCE language examinations and some just simply provided quiet words of wisdom, a calming influence and encouragement.

It is this guidance and wisdom displayed by our VCE teachers that epitomises all of St Catherine’s teachers and the care they give to our students and their learning. On behalf of the School, I thank all our St Catherine’s teachers for their contribution to the lives of our students.

Response to the Age Funding Articles

I am usually very reluctant to become embroiled in the local media commentary about Government funding, however, I would like to share Michelle Green’s (from Independent School’s Victoria) response to the misinformation circulated in The Age this week. Please click here to read Michelle Green’s response.

I have also highlighted below, some key dates for Term 4.

  • Valedictory Dinner, Sunday 15 October
  • Years 9-12 Senior School Awards Night, Tuesday 24 October, 7.00pm
  • Junior School Play – Honk Jnr, Friday 27 – Saturday 28 October
  • Barbreck Music Concert, Thursday 23 November
  • Auxiliaries, PFA, Class Reps, Council and Council Sub Committees ‘Thank you Event’, Monday 27 November

My best wishes to all families for the forthcoming Term.

Mrs Michelle Carroll, Principal