Acknowledging the Work of Our Teachers

Over the course of Term 4, 20 St Catherine’s VCE teachers have also engaged in the opportunity to be Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) Markers and Assessors. By way of example, one staff member marked up to 700 English sections of the English exam. Two assessors mark every paper and when a discrepancy between allocated marks results, a third marker also assesses the paper; consistency is undoubtedly essential with this level of marking. Whilst most teachers assess written examinations, members of our Language Faculty also contribute to assessing the oral examinations or the practical component of subjects such as the Stagecraft Examination in Theatre Studies.

Assessing VCE external examinations provides valuable professional development, interaction with colleagues at other schools and an opportunity to contribute more broadly to the VCE external assessment process. All teachers appointed assessors receive a full day’s training covering all aspects of the assessment process and over the course of the training, a broad range of student responses are explored to establish clear and consistent benchmarks for all assessors.

This year the following St Catherine’s staff have contributed to the process:

  • Vicky Spanos (Literature)
  • Darren Plunkett (EAL)
  • Kristy Forrest and Ingrid Hildebrand (English)
  • Sally Wilkinson and Kate Fitzgerald (Business Management)
  • Claire Martin and Anna Curnow (History-Revolutions)
  • Chris Zuccala and Anna Pianezze (French orals)
  • Asuko Okumura and Kanako Yokouchi (Japanese orals)
  • Sue Macgeorge (Biology), Vanessa Jackson-McRae (Chemistry)
  • James Brown (Theatre Studies Stagecraft Examination)
  • Jeanette Gunn, Loretta Carter and Amanda Ladbury-Webb (Mathematics Methods)
  • Julia West (Media Studies)
  • Janette Matt – Assistant Chief Examiner Specialist Mathematics

In her role as Head of Arts, Mrs Brigid Weereratne has worked on the VCAA Studio Arts Panel to rewrite the Assessment Criteria for the School Assessed Task (SAT) for VCE Units 3&4.

Over the course of this year, a number of teachers have also committed more broadly to their field of expertise. Senior English teacher, Ms Kristy Forrest was the guest lecturer in the Master of Teaching program (English Stream) at the University of Melbourne. Ms Forrest lectured on developing the Backwards Design to Construct units and Assessment in VCE English.

As a member of the Heads of English Network, our Head of English Faculty, Mrs Ceri Lloyd is a guest presenter at external VCE lectures. Geography teacher, Mr Paul Cross presented at the Geography Teachers’ Association of Victoria Annual Conference and Humanities teacher, Mr Alex Borlenghi presented at the Emerging Trends in Living, Learning and Working conference in Sydney.

Our Head of Science, Mrs Vanessa Jackson-McRae, who is a member of the Education Committee of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, hosted the second chemistry conference for VCE teachers in conjunction with the Chemistry Department at Monash University. Ms Jackson-McRae also presented a workshop at STAVCON 2018, on An effective way to introduce many chemical concepts – using a stereomicroscope and was acknowledged by CSIRO Education and Outreach for St Catherine’s continued support of STEM Professionals in Schools, celebrating a 10 year anniversary for delivery of the CREST program (CREativity in Science and Technology) at St Catherine’s.

In the co-curricular field, Ms Mary-Anne Keratiotis became a member of the Schools Advisory Board for the Debating Association Victoria (DAV). Of note is the exceptional performances of our Debating teams this year in the Year 7 and 8 Junior Schools Debating and Senior DAV Competitions. Clearly reaping the insight of Ms Keratiotis’ knowledge, St Catherine’s had 20 per cent of students participating in Debating programs with upwards of a third awarded Best Speaker. In recent weeks, Year 11 student, Sophie Turnbull has been invited to trial for the Victorian team. Four students were nominated as Top Scoring Year 8 students in the Toorak region. Congratulations to Paula Chen, Pia Zayontz, Rosie Bogdan and Lan-Tian Yen-West. This acknowledges a high degree of skill level in the formal aspects of Debating: manner, matter and method. Students are usually given scores ranging from 74 to 78 in the competition; all of the abovementioned students received scores of 77.

Our Head of Boarding Services, Mrs Sue Collister is an Executive Board Member of the Australian Boarding Schools’ Association (ABSA). She also presented at the ABSA Taking the Reins Conference at Bond University in March 2018 and attended the 2018 International Boarding Conference in Melbourne in October in her capacity as a Board member.

News to hand this week in The Arts was the recognition of Year 12 student Demi Markakis and St Kevin’s student, Oliver Palamara, as recipients of commendations of the distinguished Music Theatre Guild of Victoria for their performances in the 2018 Musical, Crazy For You, in the categories of best Junior Female in a Leading Role and Best Junior Male in a Leading Role. The recognition of the lead roles in the musicals from the Music Theatre Guild is also a reflection of the outstanding leadership as Director, Head of Performing Arts, Mr James Brown and the extraordinary level of expertise of all the staff involved, Choreography, Ms Kathryn White, Musical Director, Mr Tim Collins and Vocal Coach, Ms Andy Dowell.

Staff Departures

In addition to the retirement of Mrs Alana Moor, Barbreck teacher, Ms Sue Cooke, will also retire after 38 years of outstanding service to the School. At SCOGA reunions, Ms Cooke is always remembered with much fondness and warmth. My favourite part of Ms Cooke’s St Catherine’s story is that she was a Barbreck student herself in the original Barbreck building and taught most of her career in the Barbreck building that was demolished this year and she has now completed her journey with a semester teaching in the new building. Ms Cooke is worthy of the utmost praise for her contribution to the life of St Catherine’s School.

Also retiring to spend more time with her grandchildren is Learning Plus Coordinator in Barbreck, Mrs Glenda Lingard. As both a speech pathologist and teacher, Mrs Lingard has an incredible insight into the learning journey of young children. Her capacity to share knowledge with staff and most importantly, reassure parents of the correct pathways and learning strategies for young children, has been so greatly appreciated. We also farewell Mrs Mary Karvounaris who is looking forward to retiring to spend more time with her family; Mrs Karvounaris’ contribution to the Year 6 program over many years has ensured the smooth transition of many Year 6 students to the Senior School.

In our Senior School, after stepping down from the role of Deputy Principal, Mr Paul Cross will now retire from his part-time teaching position at St Catherine’s. Over the past two years, Mr Cross has returned to his one great love – teaching Geography. His work in the development of the VCE Geography program and the junior years Geography curriculum is greatly appreciated. On a broader scale, his knowledge and expertise is well regarded by the Victorian Geography Teachers’ Association where he is regularly invited to present at conferences. We hope to still see Mr Cross at St Catherine’s at various times as a contract teacher and as a VIP guest at many School functions in the future.

Also finishing at the end of the year is Science teacher Ms Lee Brandt, and we acknowledge her contribution to the lives of many St Catherine’s girls who have been inspired to commence engineering pathways following their VCE Physics course under her tutelage.

Mrs Amanda Ladbury-Webb will be dearly missed by our Advanced Maths students, in particular, the Years 5 to 9 Academic Honours students. Her contribution to the development of the Mathematics Honours program has been outstanding; as a Cambridge educated mathematician, Mrs Ladbury-Webb inspired many girls to pursue a love of Mathematics. Mrs Ladbury-Webb will be returning to the UK next year to resume her life in London with her young family.

We also farewell Teacher Librarian, Ms Kathryn White and Drama teacher Miss Tessa Dunstan. Both teachers have made an enormous contribution to their curriculum areas and most notably the co-curricular Performing Arts in our production of both musicals and plays. Their youthful energy and enthusiasm enabled the girls to perform onstage with confidence and insight to the roles depicted. Both Ms White and Miss Dunstan look forward to teaching at schools much closer to home in the northern perimeter suburbs of Melbourne.

Finally, we thank Mr Alex Borlenghi, as both a Humanities teacher and mentor to many teachers as they embraced technology within their classrooms. Mr Borlenghi sits behind much of the design and structure of the School Portal and provided valuable staff training to enable this transition in recent years. He has also been encouraging of the innovative teaching practices using augmented reality utilised in the Arts and Humanities programs this year.

In our Early Learning Centre, we also farewell teachers Mrs Fiona Barker and Ms Claire De Crespigny. Mrs Barker has served the ELC families for many years and her curriculum knowledge in the Reggio Emilia approach has been most praiseworthy. We wish her the very best in her retirement.

Finishing in their year-long maternity replacement contracts this year, we farewell Miss Claire Martin and Ms Louise Adams in the Humanities Faculty and on a long service leave replacement contract, Miss Laura Neary in the Health and Physical Education Faculty.

Years 7 to 12 Speech Night

I look forward to the Years 7 to 12 Speech Night tonight, commencing at 6.30pm at the Melbourne Recital Centre. The Music students have been rehearsing for many weeks and will provide brilliant performances this evening in addition to the recognition of students’ achievements across academic, co-curricular and service contributions this year. We also look forward to announcing the highly anticipated Staff Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the inaugural SCOGA Fellowship to two deserving St Catherine’s Old Girls.

Michelle Carroll

Mrs Michelle Carroll