Leaders of Tomorrow

“We must do all that we can to give our children the best in education and social upbringing – for while they are the youth of today, they shall be the leaders of tomorrow”. JF Kennedy

The ‘leaders of tomorrow’ at St Catherine’s were announced this week, and it gave me great pleasure to congratulate Mackenzie Leyden as the 2017 School Captain and Georgie Sitch as the School Vice-Captain. The girls will be well supported by a Student Executive compromising of Alecka Garrett, Isabella King, Sophie Seng Hpa and Angela Sexton.

The School has always regarded leadership, service and responsibility integral elements of a girl’s education. It is important that every girl experiences some form of leadership whilst at School and is prepared for responsibilities. To this end, leadership skills are nurtured in every girl, commencing with their Year 7 Beyond Boundaries experiences. This development continues across the years and is formalised through the Leadership Diploma offered in Year 9 and Year 10.

The Diploma is a unique qualification to St Catherine’s and offers students the opportunity to strengthen the School community and to refine their own leadership skills. The Leadership Diploma incorporates all components of the Years 9 and 10 curriculum and recognises students’ involvement in and achievement from their academic and co-curricular programs. It drives the girls to be organised, proactive, altruistic, insightful and empathetic, with the opportunity to make a tangible difference to their School and local community.

Encouraging students to step outside their comfort zones and become involved in new and different activities inside and outside the School is a major objective of the Leadership Diploma. The journey provides students with a strong insight, not only into School and the wider community, but also themselves through the personal reflection required for the Diploma. Students must successfully complete a list of criteria which includes developing positive relationships, involvement in mentoring programs, Community Service and environment programs, performance and public speaking, Outdoor Education and being a positive role model. Students who complete the Diploma are then eligible for leadership selection in Year 11.

The process of leadership selection is intentionally lengthy and thorough, requiring a written application, two rounds of interviews and a brief speech delivered to the student body. This week, the shortlisted candidates were asked to convey in their Assembly speech what they value in leadership through a reflection on the attributes, and recognition of the qualities, of a St Catherine’s Old Girl recognised as a Nil Magum Nisi Bonum (NMNB) recipient.

The photo above is the shortlisted candidates reading the NMNB profiles last Friday as they made their selection of which St Catherine’s Old Girl to research for their speech. The girls’ speeches on Monday provided an enlightening reminder of the strength, tenacity and character of the women who grace the walls of Sherren House.

Happy Father’s Day

I wish all our St Catherine’s Dads a joyful day on Sunday, filled with much love and care from their daughters. I came across this research about fathers this week and share for you below:

Fathers are the key to improving girls’ health, fitness and wellbeing.
A University of Newcastle study has found that a unique father-daughter exercise program not only improves girls’ fitness, confidence, resilience and social-emotional wellbeing, but also strengthens fathers’ parenting skills and their understanding of the importance of the father-daughter bond. With less than 10% of girls entering high school able to perform basic skills such as kicking, catching and throwing a ball, and less than 20% being sufficiently physically active, it is easy to see why teenage girls are far more likely to drop out of playing sports than boys. This not only has damaging impacts on girls’ health and fitness, but also on body image and self-esteem.

Under the world-first DADEE program (Dads and Daughters Exercising and Empowered), 155 primary school age girls and their 115 fathers took part in a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional sporting pursuits including hockey, soccer, touch football, basketball, tennis, martial arts and boxing, as well as rough and tumble play, and games to improve aerobic and muscular fitness.

During the eight-week program, fathers also learnt evidence-based parenting strategies for optimising their daughters’ physical and mental health. The importance of ‘equalist’ parenting was emphasised — where girls and boys are given equal encouragement to remain physically active throughout their lives — and fathers learnt about the positive impact of female role models and the negative impact of ‘pinkification’. In fact, the DADEE program deliberately reversed the usual stereotypes so that girls’ t-shirts and drink bottles were blue and fathers’ t-shirts and drink bottles were pink.

Not only did girls improve their sporting skills and physical activity levels, but the DADEE program impacted positively on their self-esteem and resilience. By moving the focus from ‘pretty’ to ‘healthy’, it was found that girls improved their positive self-concept and gained a newfound physical confidence. Lead researcher, Professor Phil Morgan, from the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, says that the girls’ physical confidence “was partly attributed to a growing awareness of gender biases and a refusal to buy into traditional stereotypes”.

For fathers, not only did they improve their own physical fitness and learn ‘how to teach’ their daughters sporting skills, but they also reported increased parenting skills and strong improvements in family bonding and understanding of the importance of the father-daughter relationship. In fact, when fathers were asked about the most beneficial part of the program, the two most common responses were that they could see an improvement in their daughter’s social-emotional wellbeing and that their father-daughter bond had strengthened.

Mrs Michelle Carroll


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