I pray that she knows she: 

Is protected (Isaiah 52:12) 

Is the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13) 

Does not have to fight her own battles (Exodus 14:14) 

Does not have to have all the answers (Zechariah 4:6) 

Is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) 

Is more valuable than rubies (Proverbs 3:15) 

Has a powerful voice (Esther 4:14) 

Has the ability to slay giants (1 Samuel 17:49) 

Is loved deeply (Romans 8:39) 

And has amazing plans ahead of her (Jeremiah 29:11) 

This prayer was shared at the end of a Women in Leadership Symposium that I attended this week, one of many activities held to mark International Women’s Day. At Clonard, our College Leaders have curated a wonderful week of activities to raise awareness and draw attention to the gifts that women bring to the world and the ongoing need to work together towards equality and equity. This week sharpens our awareness not just toward the statistics that show gaps in areas such as pay or representation in leadership roles but ways in which subtle sexism and stereotypes still exist. We need to ensure that we call these instances out every week and not just in the days surrounding 8 March.  

On Wednesday morning we hosted our annual IWD Breakfast where we were joined by Bri Pengarte Apma Hayes from the class of 2020. Bri spoke passionately about her pride in her cultural heritage and her new role with the First People’s Assembly of Victoria. Bri is also an artist and shared that her art is being used on the AusKick bags this year – look out for this if you have a little person taking part in this program. When we asked Bri about some of the challenges especially for First Nations women, she reminded us about the intergenerational trauma that is still experienced today following the impact of colonisation and the Stolen Generation. Despite this, Bri spoke about the hope she draws from her people for a positive future and reminded those of us in the room who support young people to give them the space to make mistakes. In a year where we are thinking about courage, Bri was the embodiment of a young person who is leading with courage. We were grateful for the support of many from our own community and the other Geelong Catholic secondary schools in sending along student leaders and staff to this event. We trust that all who attended left feeling inspired and challenged. 

The Women in Leadership Symposium hosted by MACS grew out of a conversation I had with the General Manager for Leadership Louisa Rennie back in 2020. Yesterday we engaged in a masterclass around the five new signposts for leadership with Valerie Hannon a renowned international thought leader in education. Valerie’s work is underpinning much of the thinking we are doing about redesigning, reshaping and re purposing education. Her book Thrive is available from our College library. We listened to a panel of women who are leaders in fields outside of education including Professor Catherine Bennett who became very familiar to us during the pandemic. It was interesting to hear her speak about the numerous times when she encountered the impact of stereotypes or the notion of ‘you don’t look like a professor’. The day culminated with the launch of a research project to look at the enablers and challenges for women in educational leadership. In Catholic education the workforce is approximately 75% female and yet only 50% of leadership positions are held by women. The research hopes to create further supports and opportunities for women to lead.  

Earlier in the week I was able to attend the Year 7 camp. It is one of the highlights of my year as I watch our new students stretch themselves in making connections with new friends and classmates. Many of them stepped out of their comfort zone in trying things for the first time such as raft building, paddle boarding or the flying fox. A special thank you to the staff who attended with the students led by Lance Houlihan our Year 7 Wellbeing and Community Leader. The care our staff show for our students when they are away from home is second to none.  

This week families will have received a letter about their daughter’s attendance. Thank you to those families who provided feedback in relation to the letter or made contact to seek support. We acknowledge and congratulate the students who have shown a strong commitment to attendance. The practice of ensuring families are noting attendance regularly is to ensure longer term patterns of non attendance are proactively addressed. Last year the College presented an evening with Joanne Garfi around the importance of attendance and strategies families might use if this was becoming a challenge. Tania Anticev School Improvement Leader: Wellbeing is our key leader in this area and can be contacted for further support or information. 

Next week we commence our Open Days. It is always an exciting time for the College meeting prospective students and their families. We look forward to sharing with them some of the thinking we are doing around redesigning learning and our partnerships with Deep Learning and New Metrics for Success. This year our enrolment application process has gone online thanks to work by our Registrar and IT Department. We have had a number of enrolments already and ask our current families to ensure they complete an application for siblings who may be starting with us in 2024.  

Today I am in Melbourne gathering with Principals and Managers of the Kildare Ministries Community works from around Australia. Together we will be exploring ‘Courage in the Christian Life‘ with Dr Jim Nickoloff inspired by our 2023 value of courage. I look forward to sharing insights from the session in my next blog. 

With the long weekend upon us, it is a good time to take a reset and catch up before the second half of the term.