Meet some of our Staff
St Catherine’s School has many amazing staff that all contribute to providing an exceptional educational journey for our students.
In each edition of our biannual St Catherine’s News we highlight a number of staff. In the most recent edition we learn more about our Head of Mathematics, Deputy Head of Junior School, ELC Coordinator, Art technician and Head of ICT.
Mrs Janette Matt, Faculty Leader of Mathematics
It seems Mathematics was always on the cards for our Head of Mathematics, Mrs Janette Matt. Recounting a story of her husband’s endeavour to replace his missing Birth Certificate in Germany, Janette reveals her husband’s registered surname was listed as Math!
“I refused outright to change our name as I thought being Mrs Math teaching Maths was a little too strange!,” says Janette.
Mathematics has always been a love for Janette, who pursued Mathematics through university, obtaining a Master’s degree with a thesis on the Mathematics behind the growth of cancer cells. Janette said it was at this point she really appreciated the importance of Mathematics to everyday life.
“My Master’s raised my awareness of the importance of the subject. Following my Master’s I worked in the corporate world, using Mathematics to predict trends and develop strategies to improve the company’s market. The long hours and international travel involved was not a good fit for a young mother however, so I completed a Diploma of Education and commenced teaching.”
Janette soon discovered a great passion for the vocation, “teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs anyone could possibly have,” says Janette.
Janette’s passion and commitment as a teacher was recognised last year when she received the St Catherine’s School Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award for her leadership, gentle patience, loyalty to her students and willingness to contribute to St Catherine’s School.
Her experience and expertise was also recognised when she was appointed the first female Assistant Chief Assessor by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, a true reflection of her outstanding depth of knowledge in Specialist Maths.
“Teaching has provided me the opportunity to encourage students to love Mathematics and all of its complexities. It is not an easy subject, but once you understand it and, develop your skills, the beauty of the subject becomes apparent. Being Faculty Leader is a wonderful role as it allows me to watch students develop their mathematical understanding, and with some girls, the development of their passion for this fascinating subject.”
Janette’s enthusiasm for her students is also apparent in her role as Head of House for Langley Templeton. “The girls in the House are full of energy and enthusiasm and it is a challenge to keep up with them! Winning the House Arts Competition at the end of 2016 has spurred them on to bigger and better things for 2017,” Janette says.
Outside of School Janette provides revision lectures for Year 12 students in Mathematical Methods and Specialist Maths during the school holidays. “These are interesting as they are attended by students from all backgrounds and with different levels of understanding.”
Discussing St Catherine’s students Janette says our students have always impressed her with their kind-heartedness. “New girls are welcomed and they generally assimilate into the School in a remarkably short time. There is always great energy on campus with students involved in a vast range of activities which they embrace with determination and fun. At the same time they take their studies very seriously and work hard to achieve to their full potential. I am very lucky to have the chance to work with them and help them develop in Mathematics.”
Ms Catherine Samuel, Deputy Head Junior School
This year we are excited to welcome, Ms Catherine Samuel to our School as Deputy Head of Barbreck. Catherine arrives at our School with a wealth of experience and enthusiasm for education and teaching.
“As a teacher, it is my privilege to be a part of each student’s educational journey as they learn, grow and develop. I have a passion for the theory, science and research around learning and teaching. It is rewarding to move this theory into the practical day-to-day learning in the classroom and the realities of the school environment,” Catherine says.
First commencing teaching in Wangaratta, Catherine says she was incredibly lucky to learn from, and work with, two incredible teachers, “these colleagues remain key mentors and role models for me to this day. They were pivotal in my development as a teacher and the progression of my career.”
From Wangaratta Catherine has since worked at Brighton Grammar School and Melbourne Grammar, Grimwade House. “My father and uncle went to Brighton Grammar so it was lovely to have that connection to the school. During my career I have been blessed to have worked with highly skilled and knowledgeable educators that I have learnt a lot from.”
Catherine says she is excited about working alongside the outstanding educators at St Catherine’s School. “From my first meeting with Michelle Carroll and Alana Moor, I felt a sense that this was the right school for me. The thought of becoming a member of the St Catherine’s team, and the potential opportunities this presents truly excites me. This feeling has been further reinforced as I have met the wider school community.”
“I am looking forward to working closely with students, teachers and parents at St Catherine’s to provide an outstanding education for the girls and allowing every student to recognise and reach their full potential, experience personal success and find their passions and what excites them.”
Ms Sarah Bethune, ELC Coordinator and Blue Gum Room Teacher
In her dual role as ELC Coordinator and teacher in the three year old Blue Gum Room, Sarah Bethune describes her working days as anything but typical.
“There is no such thing as a typical day and this is what makes my work so exciting. My role is quite diverse. When I am teaching, my work involves nurturing and educating the young three year old children through an inquiry-based approach. My role as ELC Coordinator involves managing the day to day running of the Early Learning Centre as a whole ensuring that we provide a high quality educational service to our children and families,” Sarah says.
Working at St Catherine’s for over 16 years now, Sarah says it has been a privilege to observe the growth, development and learning in many children over the years.
“It has been a privilege to see the children’s unfolding educational journeys as they continue through School. Last year, it was very special to see my first class of three year old girls graduate from Year 12 at St Catherine’s.”
Working in early childhood education has always been a passion for Sarah, “I have always worked in early childhood education – this was something that I was always wanted to pursue as a career. I have been fortunate to work at several high calibre Early Learning Centre’s with the majority of my career spent here at St Catherine’s.
“St Catherine’s has such a wonderful sense of community. It has been exciting to see the community diversify and evolve over time. The pastoral care offered to students and families is also a strength. Students and families are really welcomed and supported individually.”
Ms Kristen Halkett , Art Technician
With a background in photography and the Arts, and as a practising artist and designer, St Catherine’s students receive expert and real world advice from Art Technician, Ms Kristen Halkett.
“I have been working at St Catherine’s for seven years now and each year I love the Art Show and House Arts. It is so rewarding witnessing the initial ideas for these two events develop over the year. I am constantly blown away by what our students achieve. It is a big deal to have your work realised and presented to the public,” Kristen says.
A typical day at work for Kristen involves managing the Art Department’s photomedia, “I am responsible for all the Department’s photo gear and the running of the large format printer – which gets a workout during finals time. Some days I’ll be helping out with classes, such as Junior School ceramics, Year 8 sewing or VCE problem-solving, ordering supplies, loading and unloading the kiln, photographing student work or finding an elusive material…my days are never typical!”
Kristen believes the quality of the staff at St Catherine’s enable the students to achieve their best, not only during major events such as the Art Show and House Arts, but during class time and as individuals.
“All of the staff at St Catherine’s are very talented, caring and passionate about their specialties. I think this is such an important thing for students to have – advocates who inspire and enable them to be their best selves.”
Kristen spends her time away from St Catherine’s designing and exhibiting her own bespoke pieces of jewellery and ceramics. For anyone interested in seeing Kristen’s work visit http://kristenhalkett.com/
Mr John Toulantas, Head of ICT (Information, Communication & Technology)
Working at St Catherine’s since 2010, John has many career highlights, however this year he was able to spend time in the Year 4 classroom introducing the students to their new laptops, which he says was a real highlight.
“2017 is the first-year St Catherine’s will provide a 1:1 laptop program in Year 4. The girls were very excited, so inquisitive and eager to start emailing each other and setting up their folders in the cloud. It was extremely rewarding for me to experience first-hand the outcome of high-level planning and decisions made at Senior Leadership,” says John.
As well as being recognised by his St Catherine’s colleagues last year, receiving the St Catherine’s Staff Excellence Award, Mr John Toulantas, Head of ICT, is also widely sought after across the independent school and business management sector.
“During my time at St Catherine’s I have planned and implemented a new Cloud First strategy for the School’s ICT infrastructure. This was an extremely challenging and rewarding project which has since been modelled and adopted by other independent schools. I have been invited to present and discuss this new initiative at conferences and as a keynote speaker at the Victorian Bursars and Business Managers Association (ASBA).”
Much like our teaching staff, John says no day is ever the same at St Catherine’s, which is something he enjoys. “My day involves a lot of meetings, interactions with staff and students, as well as contractors and troubleshooting IT issues for everyone at St Catherine’s. I also find time to work on future projects and key organisational objectives later in the day once School is out.”
“St Catherine’s is a great place to work. Besides the outstanding teaching spaces and access to the latest teaching technologies I think the greatest strength the School has is that everyone is so engaged – there is always such a positive energy which brings out the best in people.”
Aside from his full-time job at St Catherine’s that can see John on campus after hours assisting the Boarding House staff with IT issues for our on-campus students, John enjoys coaching basketball at his local club and landscape photography.
“I’m an amateur photographer and love taking photos of landscapes and countries that I visit – which I publish on my website http://lensrip.com.”