Mrs Michelle Carroll
In my first year as Principal, I have been continually impressed by the diversity of talent, inquisitiveness, ambition and humanity that defines the St Catherine’s girl.
In 2014, the St Catherine’s community can again be proud of the significant achievements of all students. In my first year as Principal, I have been continually impressed by the diversity of talent, inquisitiveness, ambition and humanity that defines the St Catherine’s girl.
As a large portion of the Senior School was under construction this year, there was a great sense of excitement as the girls and teachers eagerly ventured into the newly opened Stage Two of the Senior School Renewal at the commencement of Term 4. This project forms part of a greater vision to create a powerful learning experience for our students; a vision that looks to revitalise the learning spaces in our Junior School, Barbreck, in the coming years. Symbolically, this renewal reinvigorates the School’s heritage whilst investing enormous faith in the future of the School.
The Senior School Renewal has been designed to respond to the School’s growing needs and our focus on integrating innovative teaching through the provision of contemporary learning spaces and an educational Research Centre, inclusive of Technology and Careers Hubs. At the same time, the design has been respectful of the School’s commitment to sustainable building practices, with ample use of natural light and the preservation of the treasured Elaine Haxton Mural, originally unveiled in 1956.
As recorded in our School archives, Miss Flora Templeton and Miss Ruth Langley, Co-Principals in 1922, envisioned for St Catherine’s graduates “to be strong and courageous in their outlook”. Interestingly, at the commencement of this school year, I enquired of the very essence of being a St Catherine’s girl with our Year 12 students as they embarked on their senior journey. Their response was remarkably similar to that of almost 100 years ago – “confident, excited to see the world and prepared for life”.
The future of our Year 12 students is, however, vastly different from that of the 1922 St Catherine’s graduates. Leading demographer Mark McCrindle suggests we are “currently preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist and using technologies that have not yet been invented”. It is expected today’s school leavers will have 17 jobs across five different careers. In response to this, we must ensure a focus on developing employability skills that will sustain women throughout their career and life journey. Essential 21st Century skills include collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, digital literacy, communication and leadership. As a very simple Google search can unveil a vast array of facts, we need more than ever to encourage students to know how to learn for themselves, to discriminate information, to problem-solve and to be excited about what they can contribute to society.
In our ‘knowledge-based’ society, all students and graduates must be researchers. Not only engaged in the production of knowledge, they must also be educated to cope with the uncertainties generated by advancements in science and technology and the opportunity of living in a globally connected community and employment market. Engaging our students to be deep thinkers and ensuring their learning is relevant underpins our commitment to authentic experiences that grasp students’ attention. It serves to build purpose in their education and enables a very real application in their world.
Our School’s ongoing commitment to a global education is highlighted with extensive travel opportunities and a rich tapestry of experiences abroad. This year, St Catherine’s girls have studied in Italy, China, Japan and France, experiencing ceramic and printmaking workshops, art history and intensive language immersion as part of Study Tours designed to complement their classroom experiences.
St Catherine’s has also entered into a new school partnership agreement with the He Ping Jie High School in Beijing, as part of our China Language / Business Study Tour in September and we continue to develop our exchange programs with opportunities in our sister schools in England and America. The development of each girl as an individual underpins all that we do. Through whatever path our students choose in life, we are educating them to be involved in communities, to understand the increasing interconnectedness of our world, to demonstrate intercultural competence and to engage on local and global levels.
The hallmark of St Catherine’s programs is the widespread contribution and dedication of our staff. Their commitment allows us to provide for each girl a personalised learning experience and the benefit of enriching and engaging academic and co-curricular programs. I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank them for their high level of involvement in School life. Understanding that children and teenagers learn in an environment to which they feel connected and appropriately challenged drives our need to continually provide opportunities for St Catherine’s girls to excel, lead, volunteer and represent the School in the wider community. St Catherine’s is in the business of shaping young women through the exemplary experiences we offer. This edition of the School Magazine provides an insight into the education of St Catherine’s students in 2014, capturing the authentic learning experiences offered and the opportunities that will best prepare them for life and encourage their ambition and confidence.