I always enjoyed school from the beginning and had a particular love for literature. Growing up on a rural property near Rockhampton as one of four girls, there was always time to read. It provided both comfort and insight into myself and the world around me.
At school, I had two teachers who were influential in my life. My Year 7 teacher and my Year 8 English teacher, both of whom had a gift for capturing the spirit of a child and encouraging us to think about the world deeply and feel joy from learning. I still vividly remember some of their lessons, and in particular, my Year 8 English teacher expanding my world with literature and encouraging me to ‘read widely’—which I haven’t stopped since.
I suppose, subconsciously, I was drawn to the impact that a great teacher could have in someone’s life. It led me to pursue a career in education, and I have now been teaching for almost 30 years.
My roles have been varied, from Head of English, Head of Library, Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning), Deputy Principal (Students), and now as of this year, Dean of Students at Brisbane Girls Grammar School.
A day as Dean of Students at BGGS is full and involves talking to a lot of people—Heads of House, senior leaders, parents, and of course, students. Student matters are connected to every aspect of the School, from the classroom to the outdoors at Marrapatta, and everything in between. Communication and connecting with people are central to my role—consulting on matters that arise, it can sometimes be reactive, but a key part of my position is also strategic vision, so I balance between this and the operational.
What I love about my career is that I’ve had the opportunity to explore both the academic and pastoral aspects of learning, and it’s very fulfilling. It allows me to understand the ‘whole picture’ of a student—you don’t just see them with the lens of academics, you see their growth as a young woman. Having two daughters, who have recently completed the process themselves, it’s very real to me.
My work is also very rewarding. On any single day I could be helping a student set goals for the term ahead or overcome a friendship issue. Witnessing their learning about situations and themselves, and their individual growth is the big joy for me.
Another joy of working at an all-girls school is seeing the students having fun—they are engaged in the moment, they have excitement, enthusiasm and energy about what they are doing and it’s lovely to see them really enjoying each other’s company. I love teaching girls. As a mentor to young women and a mother of daughters, I want to support our girls in achieving their goals and ensuring they can overcome any barriers they perceive. I want to be their advocate for pursuing whatever their interest might be and having their voice heard.
Our life choices shape who we become, and our environment has a significant influence on how we manage challenges and take opportunities. When life does not follow a predictable path, we can choose to embrace this and be better for it. Even though it can be daunting, our girls are encouraged to try new things, see a challenge and work through it, and imagine the next adventure. Here at the School, our girls are surrounded by people who champion them, and I am fortunate to witness this every day at Girls Grammar.