‘And what does your husband think about you applying for this position?’
I was 26. I was applying for a Principalship in a small rural school.
I wasn’t really thinking I would be successful, but I was keen to test the waters and gain some interview experience.
This was 26 years ago and I still recall thinking ‘what does it matter what my husband thinks?’
It was my first experience of gender stereotyping.
I did become a Principal of another small rural school at 26 and have held leadership positions in a variety of educational settings ever since. Part of my motivation to come to Clonard was to be a part of an educational community that would continue to ensure young people, young women in particular had a voice and felt empowered to make a difference. As a mother of two daughters, I reflect often on what may have happened if they were born in a country where girls and women are denied an education.
On Monday, people around the world will mark International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. The theme encourages us to choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world. This recognizes, that whilst we may have made positive steps forward, my experience of 26 years ago is still present in today’s society and we have a way to go. Dr Bree Gorman, a past collegian, who is a consultant in the area of inclusion and diversity will address our annual IWD Breakfast next Wednesday morning, sharing with us her experiences with supporting organisations to work towards a greater understanding of what can be done in this space.
This year we have heard the story of Australian of the Year, Grace Tame who has been a voice for many survivors of sexual assault. Just this week we have heard the voices of many young women who have called for greater education around consent as they have courageously shared distressing stories of sexual assaults. These voices and stories are also calling us to #ChooseToChallenge not just as a school but as a broader community.
As a College, we are committed to building an inclusive community and a place where people feel safe and a sense of belonging. Our Wellbeing curriculum and our Child Safe practices outlined later in this newsletter are an explicit and intentional expression of this commitment. As a Lead School in the Geelong area for Respectful Relationships we continue to develop and work to improve our curriculum delivery and whole of school approach to many aspects of the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships curriculum which aims to address aspects of healthy relationships, gender equality, power and consent. We also recognise the role of families as partners in this learning and commit to considering how we might further support you in having conversations with your young people. If you or your daughter has any concerns that have been raised by the recent stories in the media you are welcome to contact your daughter’s wellbeing teacher, WELCOM Leader, our School Improvement Leaders for Wellbeing or our Student Services Team.
This week we have welcomed over 300 people through our reimagined Open Day program. Small groups have been able to ‘come and see’ our College in action. There has been a wonderful energy as our students share with our visitors what they love about our College whilst hosting the tours. Four more sessions will be held next week if you are aware of anyone who is still thinking they might like to join us. Bookings are available through our website. Enrolments are now open and close on May 7.
In what has been an extra busy week we also hosted a two day Leadership Workshop for many of our College staff who hold leadership positions. This workshop was facilitated by The Brown Collective and forms part of our commitment to formation and professional development of our leaders. Dr Stephen Brown and Ann Sexton were our facilitators, both bringing a wealth of national and international leadership experience to our time together. Leaders now have a leadership challenge/project connected to their daily work in the College that they will undertake across the year to support the development of their leadership skills and capabilities.
Today we hold our annual swimming carnival which comes with an extra dose of excitement given that so many whole school events were not possible this year. And whilst it might be grey and gloomy skies, we know it won’t dampen the enthusiasm and house spirit.