Term 4, Week 7 - Issue 19

From the Principal

Dear St Mary’s College,

The end of another year is upon us, and we hold together the gratitude for a rich and full year, the busyness of wrapping up and looking ahead, and the excitement of what lies on the horizon. In the midst of that, the anticipation of a rest is very welcome. I have only ever known education as a career and wonder how other workplaces experience this end of year time. 

In other articles this week, we acknowledge the retirement of Gail Morgan at the end of a 43-year career in education and we welcome two new members to our Leadership Team in 2024. Other new leaders in Health and PE and Mathematics will be introduced in the new year, along with new staff who are joining us in English, Humanities, Religious Education, Food Technology, and the Primary Years. 

At the end of this year, we will farewell a wonderful cohort of short and long term members of staff. There is always a sense of sadness in farewell, and at the same time, deep gratitude for the contribution that each staff member makes to our College. I know that our staff community love their work with our students and that St Mary’s is a hard place to leave. It is also a wonderful professional achievement to embark on a new challenge and win a position in another school. We extend our thanks, and congratulations to each of the staff members leaving us this year. 

Laura Gilbert, Renee Irvine, and Steve Todd move to leadership roles in new schools. We have benefitted from their leadership in our community and know their professional expertise and collegiality will be appreciated. 

Angela Calo and Sam Ruggiero-Girgolas will take up teaching positions in their alumni schools. Alicia-Hancock and Jean-Marie Nguyen will also embark on teaching ventures in new schools, while Mandy Hancock has decided through her time of leave, to return to full-time study and embark on a new pathway. 

I would also like to thank the contract teaching staff who have been an integral part of our community this year. Thank you, Jordan Norris, Kira Middlemiss, Sia Pearson, and Olivia Quick. 

As the year draws to a close, I hope there is a moment for you to consider the last twelve months, and find things that have brought you joy, made you thankful, or helped you to learn. I look forward to celebrating the year, and farewelling our 2023 graduating class, with our End of Year Eucharist next week. 

Warm regards,

Clare Nocka


Rite Journey and Middle Years Showcase

The Middle Years Showcase evening was an opportunity for our community of staff, students, and families to connect and celebrate the work that is happening in the Middle Years at St Mary’s College. Years 7 and 8 students showcased their work, whilst for our Year 9 cohort, the evening was a culmination of their year-long, Rite Journey.

We thank everyone who contributed to making the evening a success. We also thank our wonderful St Mary’s parents for sharing the following affirming responses to the event:

It is always a great opportunity for parents to witness the growth and development of our children in their school environment and the recent showcase evening helped to solidify the impact of the learning of our daughters throughout the year. Seeing their work, hearing their stories of growth as well as witnessing their connections with self, peers, and teachers reinforces the value of holistic learning and we are grateful for events such as these”.

“It was so lovely to see the Year 8 students showcase their most loved items of work that evening. Each student was so enthusiastic to show their favourite piece and explained the steps taken from beginning to end. It was a great night for all involved”.

“It was a really lovely evening; it was a great opportunity to mix with other parents whilst listening to the Middle School band and choirs.”

"It was good to see the students getting out of their comfort zones and performing on stage.  The performances were really entertaining, and it was great seeing the kids try and master new skills."

"I think our girls got a lot out of the mentor program. It was a great opportunity for them to connect with another person outside of their family unit. It has been great seeing my daughter grow as a person throughout this process."

"It was really nice to see all of the Year 9 students together at the end of the evening participating in the karate chop exercise. The students looked so pleased and impressed when they chopped the wood, and it was a great way to finish the Rite Journey Path.”  

Kate Pill, Year 9 Coordinator

Learning in 2024

As we look ahead to 2024, there are many exciting learning events and opportunities on the horizon. To begin the year, we will be taking a deeper dive into our Visible Learning Dispositions: Curiosity, Creativity, Resilience, Reflection, and Embracing Challenge. Earlier this term, student focus groups from the Junior and Senior Schools workshopped ideas to design graphics capturing the meanings of these words. At the beginning of next year, each Care Group will enter a competition to create a space in their classroom that showcases these Visible Learning disposition graphics. There will be a prize for the winning classroom display from each sub-school.

Another initiative to further empower our students in their learning next year will be a shift to student-led Learning Reviews. Student learning is at the core of everything we do. Therefore, students are the best-placed person to speak about their own learning experience. We have planned a highly supportive process to prepare our students for these events. By thinking about our learning dispositions, students will be asked to set themselves learning goals at the beginning of the year. A big part of the preparation process will be for students to think about what they are good at and what they would like to develop. At the Learning Reviews, students will share their achievements with their parents and teachers. They will be able to speak about how they are progressing with their learning goals, where they are heading next, and what they plan to work on to grow. When students understand themselves as learners, they can feel proud of themselves and develop their skills to take on challenges with resilience and confidence.

Celebrating learning with families is a key focus for 2024. Sometimes, we forget just how much our students achieve because we get caught up in the list of things we need to do, and we move on quickly. We want to pause and take the time to come together and appreciate the care, time, and hard work that our students put into their learning. Our Leaders of Learning are already planning many opportunities to open up their classrooms and let our students share their problem-solving skills, design thinking processes, and creativity through showcases and expos.

Tracey Thursby, Director of Learning

Farewell Gail Morgan

After 43 years in education, Gail Morgan, Learning Area Leader Mathematics, is retiring.  

Gail began teaching in 1980, first with a year of contracts before six years at Salisbury High School. In the 1980s, the Department for Education had a ‘draw’ system for country appointments. In the year Gail was getting married, her turn for country service was called and she was initially appointed to Cooke - a railway siding on the Nullabor Plain. Fortunately, her principal at the time was able to do some negotiating and Gail was eventually posted to Kadina Memorial High School. 

Having a first year of marriage living apart from her husband, Gail set about applying for permanent work that would allow her to return to Adelaide. In 1988 her career at Sacred Heart College Senior began. 

In her thirty-three years at SHC, she was a Maths teacher, Head of Maths, Director of Teaching and Learning, Assistant Principal Curriculum and Head of Senior School.  

Gail studied a Master of Education in Leadership at Flinders University. She loved the writing, research, and face-to-face learning. It honed her sense of purpose in helping others to work at their best. This meant creating the conditions in which the organisation worked well. The systems and processes behind the scenes are what she loved most. 

Alongside leadership, Gail’s passion for maths has continued. She appreciates the way students pick up on her enthusiasm for the subject. She is a great champion for the importance of Mathematics for girls’ education.

When asked about finishing her career teaching at St Mary’ s, Gail’s words were “I’ve died and gone to heaven. The girls are beautiful, the culture is wonderful, and the staff are exceptional. There is a natural disposition to a positive and growth-oriented mindset. Everyone who is part of this community should be proud of it.”  

Gail and her husband own a family business where she will continue to do some work but on her own terms. She is looking forward to flexible time, walking, reading, time to invest in being healthy, and enjoying social catch-ups. 

We are thankful to have shared in part of Gail’s wonderful carer and wish her well. 

New Faces in Leadership

In 2024 we welcome two people to the Leadership Team at St Mary’ s College. 

Director of Mission - Bronwyn Ridley 

Bronwyn is currently the Assistant Principal, Religious Identity and Mission (APRIM) at St Monica’s Parish School Walkerville. She has extensive leadership experience in Catholic Identity and Religious Education, working in several Catholic primary schools as an APRIM over the past fifteen years. Bronwyn has also recently spent time working in the Catholic Education Office, as a Religious Education Faith Formation Advisor.  

Bronwyn is a member of the Clearview Kilburn Parish in which she is an active member as a commentator, reader and cleaner. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Catholic Education and a Masters in Catholic Education. 

Bronwyn has a particular interest in sharing and celebrating faith in a way that is interesting and engaging for young people. 

When she is not working Bronwyn enjoys playing netball, boxing, and going to the gym. She is a mother to two daughters Lara (16) and Tayla (11) who keep her busy driving them around to their sports.  

Director of Wellbeing - Catherine Grant 

Catherine Grant (Cath) has had an enriching 22-year journey in education. She is currently Deputy Principal at Tyndale Christian School (R to 12) Murray Bridge. Catherine’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education (Leadership and Management) and she is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Psychology and Educational Practice. 

Catherine is passionate about ensuring students' holistic wellbeing, firmly believing that a nurturing environment is key to unlocking their fullest potential. Her professional commitment in wellbeing is geared towards all students thriving in their learning. 

Beyond the classroom, she is a proud mother to two wonderful teenage girls. Her husband is head of a primary school nestled in the Adelaide Hills.  

Outside of the education realm, Catherine finds solace in the world of music and dedicates significant time to the gym for a reset. Nature holds a special place in her heart. 

Celebrating Justice

After a successful Justice Day at the end of Term 3, we are thrilled to share with our community the following total funds raised for our nominated organisations:

  • Junior School - Hutt Street Centre: $800
  • Year 7 - Moore Street Centre: $1000
  • Year 8 - Cambodia /Matakaruna Centre: $1000
  • Year 9 - Vinnies: $700
  • Year 10 - Link Up Program (Indigenous Stolen Generation): $500

As a school community, we also raised money for the following organisations:

  • Catherine House: $500
  • Indigenous Literacy Program: $536
  • SMC Bee Project: $400
  • Zonta: $1200

With the money raised by our Year 7 cohort,  we recently purchased $1000 worth of board games, stationery, and sporting equipment for the Moore Street Centre who make several hundred Christmas packs for financially disadvantaged children and families.

Thank you to our generous St Mary's College community for your  efforts and genuine care in making a difference in others' lives.

Peter Batty, Coordinator of Service Learning, Outreach & Immersion