29 Nov, 2017
Community, From the Head
As we head towards the end of the year and the School celebrates the 18 years of dedicated service from Mr Simon Gipson, the St Michael’s community prepares to welcome Mrs Terrie Jones as Head of the School, commencing 2018.
Mrs Jones has more than 20 years of experience teaching in Government and Independent Schools, most recently as the Deputy Principal and Head of Learning Innovation at Ravenswood School for Girls (Gordon, New South Wales).
Mrs Jones’ appointment was announced at the end of 2016, allowing for a valuable period of handover in what has been a positive and collaborative transition from one Head to another. Reflecting on one of her first visits to the School last year, Mrs Jones remarked that it became clear whilst on a tour of the School with Mr Gipson that St Michael’s was going to be the right fit for her.
“When I walked around St Michael’s Grammar School last year with the current Head of the School, Mr Simon Gipson, I witnessed many moments of authentic presence – in both students and staff,” said Mrs Jones.
“I saw it in the manner in which two students greeted me and asked if I needed directions, and in the School’s Crossing Supervisor, Terry’s, manner with the students and the way they thanked him sincerely. Similarly, I glimpsed this manifestation of presence as students and staff warmly greeted Simon, a familiar and welcome sight, but also politely acknowledged me – a stranger in their midst.”
“I returned to the hotel after this two-hour visit in the car of a member of staff who, oblivious to who I was or the reason for my visit, had generously offered to drop me to my hotel when a taxi failed to arrive. She chatted so naturally and sincerely about how much she enjoyed working at St Michael’s, that I knew this was a place I could also belong, be fully present and make a contribution.”
Having taught in both single-sex and co-educational schools, Mrs Jones is delighted to be leading in a co-educational environment.
“It must be said that leading in a co-educational school will be a wonderful new challenge for me. Effective co-education provides vital opportunities for students of all genders to learn to live and work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect conducive to an enhanced understanding of the value of a diversity of perspectives.”
Excited about her own appointment, Mrs Jones has also highlighted the importance of women in leadership roles, and their underrepresentation in many sectors, including in educational leadership roles.
“Women are still not equally represented in leadership roles in many spheres of work and this should be a concern to all of us in education. In particular, I have been struck, as a presenter at the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), that it is also the case in Principal roles in schools – at least in the independent sector,” said Mrs Jones.
“I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as the Head of the School at St Michael’s, and I intend to create enabling conditions for students and staff of all genders to thrive, respect each other’s perspectives and gifts, and to make meaningful contributions to equity in the world in which we live.”
In her educational leadership roles, Mrs Jones has demonstrated a commitment to positive exchanges of learning and to professional practices grounded in research, and has introduced innovative teaching practices from K–12, with a particular focus on developing students’ academic, social and intellectual engagement.
“As educators, we share a wonderful opportunity to enrich our students through the development of their knowledge and skills along with a sense of social responsibility,” said Mrs Jones.
“In so doing, we position our students as creators of a global future filled with hope and promise. I feel proud to be part of a profession committed to educating young people to find their way in the world and leave a positive mark.”
Since her appointment, Mrs Jones has spent time at the School meeting students, parents and staff, along with new members of our community at a number of Open Mornings.
In the last six months, Mrs Jones has been undertaking a sabbatical which has seen her visit the Community of the Sisters of the Church in the Solomon Islands and schools across Europe as a participant in the 2017 Sydney Centre for Innovative Learning (SCIL) Vision Tour. In addition, Mrs Jones has commenced a Masters of Business Administration earlier this year and will complete the Australian Institute of Company Directors course in December.
“I am feeling the delicious stretch of learning new knowledge and skills and finding ways to accommodate these in my existing schemata,” said Mrs Jones.
“Having enjoyed the opportunity of a six-month sabbatical prior to commencing as Head of the School and through the foresight and generosity of the School’s current Head, Mr Simon Gipson, I already know St Michael’s Grammar School to be an extraordinary place with welcoming students, staff and parents. I also know that I will continue to learn and grow as I move into the role of Head of the School on January 1, 2018. I look forward to finding my place in this vibrant and inclusive community.”
Having lived previously in Sydney, Mrs Jones has also had the task of finding a new home in Melbourne.
“I have already been told by people I have met in Melbourne, of the reputation of St Michael’s for embracing diversity and respecting the dignity of all who enter the gates. It has been humbling to find my own observations of the School affirmed by individuals not necessarily connected to it in formal ways.”
“All schools have narratives they generate, both planned and unplanned, in response to observations and word of mouth – I’m already very proud of the narrative the St Michael’s Grammar School community creates through its espoused values and the lived actions of its members.”
We look forward to the journey ahead and welcoming Mrs Terrie Jones as Head of the School on January 1, 2018.