Posted on: Thursday 21 June 2018
Posted in: Videos and Conversations
Our Inspiring Women – Your Daughter’s Future was a wonderful night. Over 200 parents and prospective parents gathered to share the excitement of our strategic directions and consider our directions for the school. Our School Mission, shared by our Council Chairman Professor Susan Brandis, clearly articulates our focus: “St Hilda’s School offers a rigorous learning environment, which is active, creative and innovative, targeted at developing the whole person.”
Here is an excerpt from my introductory words:
The phrase Inspiring Women is at the centre of our strategic plan. And our mission is a lofty one – how can I bring it to life for us? The best way is to show it in action.
Let me introduce you to three girls. Let me start with Izellah Connelly from Year 6. Last year I saw Izellah perform in the lead role of Tim Minchin’s musical Matilda. To say she was brilliant was an understatement. To play the role it is a given that she can sing, dance and act with flair – but what I saw that night was a strength of character and a fearlessness that made it difficult to watch anyone else on the stage. Izellah has a dream to sing and perform on the world stage – and those who know her think this is very possible. She is one of our girls taking part in our new Athena program. The program aims to support, encourage, advocate and promote the passions of our girls so they can become the inspiring women they want to be. I spoke with Izellah yesterday and she spoke about what she had learnt in the one and a half years of rehearsals and international performances for Matilda. I think her experiences have helped her to see how important learning is – because she knows it will help her for her future dream. We are very happy to help her.
Jessica Cleverly is in our Middle School. The St Hilda’s Homily starts with the line “Trade with the gifts God has given you”, proudly displayed in the Middle School foyer. Jessica is a really gifted gymnast, and we are so proud of the way she has been trading with these gifts. She has been a member of the Queensland State Squad since 2015. She is now at level 8 and recently represented Queensland at the National titles in Melbourne where her team won Gold. Behind this great talent and wonderful success are incredibly long hours of training every day; gymnastics is a discipline that demands incredible commitment. When we were talking yesterday, Jessica reminded me of how important female role models are for girls. She said “I am fortunate to train alongside Georgia Godwin, who is a Commonwealth Games silver medalist. She inspires me to work hard and I hope that I can inspire other younger girls to train hard so they can achieve their dreams.”
Afrida Imrose is in Year 12 and I am proud to say is our Head Day Girl. The girls know that Afrida’s passion is social justice. She is a strong advocate for human rights and has powerfully challenged her peers in ethical debates. She has also instituted and promoted a range of social welfare activities spanning both St Hilda’s and TSS. Her own faith background and cultural heritage have led her to advocate for the celebration of diversity. We are really proud of her. Her inspiration embodies our School motto perfectly – “Non Nobis Solum – not for ourselves alone”. I asked her yesterday what is on her mind as she looks to graduate at the end of the year – and she said, “My challenge will be redefining myself, as the first thing I tell people is that I am a St Hilda’s girl.”
What do these three girls all have in common? They are intelligent, they are talented, they have a commitment and passion for something bigger than themselves. Each one of them has been active, creative and innovative. They have brought an energy and commitment beyond the ordinary. They are inspiring.
Inspiring women is our central purpose.
Our strategic plan has four pillars: Learning, Enriching, Engaging and Sustaining.
We have spent a great deal of time and energy on the first platform this year and we see it as crucial to your daughter’s future. Mr Ross Boyle is overseeing this platform with a team of very talented leaders and teachers – we want to embed in our culture the pleasure of the rigour of learning. Our academic staff have been very busy reviewing and redesigning curriculum, assessment and teaching practice. We have been examining results to see trends and making sure learning outcomes are strong.
I have a commitment to quality teaching and leadership development for our staff. We want to challenge our girls to think deeply and to develop a disposition for learning that will take them beyond school into very successful lives. That is what we do best at St Hilda’s and what we will refuse to let go.
We know that we live and work in a performance culture – I urge you as our parents to be very wise about what it is about performance that you expect. Your daughter’s future will be measured by her ability to be a grounded, intelligent, generous contributor to society when she is 20 years out of school. I regularly meet old girls who bring this to life for me. I want our girls to have the very highest marks in internal and external tests, but your daughter’s future is not that narrow. We must not confuse a score with life-long success. Real success is creativity and critical thinking and that is what we are committed to building at St Hilda’s.
That leads me naturally to the Enriching platform – led by my Deputy Mrs Wendy Lauman. Without this platform the Learning outcomes would be limited.
Girls thrive in relationship and this platform allows girls to find their own voice, experiment with ideas, build their resilience and learn how to serve others. This is one of the greatest advantages of an all-girls school.
One of the complexities our girls face is the way their relationships have been changed by the digital age. We spend time with our girls helping them to navigate this world.
I will add a small footnote to this – I got confirmation late last night that we have been awarded the title of Apple Distinguished School for another three years – this is recognition of our commitment to innovation which underpins our enriching and learning platforms. This is great news.
This is one of my favourite platforms and I believe this is an area of great strength for St Hilda’s.
Our girls understand their place in a global context. Our exchange program is one of the largest in Australia. On return from exchange the girls tell me how much they have grown. We all know that learning at school isn’t limited to the classroom – it is in the broader experiences a really good school offers. That is what we do really well. I am proud to say our girls have a global perspective and they understand that their futures will have an international foundation – not every school can provide that.
Another really important element of our cultural partnerships is our boarding program. I wish I could send every St Hilda’s parent to a boarding parents conference so that you could understand the commitment and passion our rural families have for education. When your nearest Woolworths is over 400 kilometres away, when your school sports day takes 8 hours driving to get to it, when your face to face lessons are over the internet for one hour a day, then you appreciate the real value of education.
Paul Salter oversees this and I am proud to say the business foundation of our school is strong and robust. As with all the platforms there is still a really strong emphasis on relationships – linking our Foundation with our Alumnae. It is also about connections with business and enterprise. Two elements that support this platform are our commitment to sustainability – which is inspired by our students and our commitment to always developing our physical environment. Our strategic planning process has included the development of an exciting Masterplan for the refurbishment and development of our wonderful facilities.
What does Inspiring Women mean at St Hilda’s?
If you want your daughter challenged – intellectually, socially, physically and spiritually then this is the right place for her. St Hilda’s is raising the stakes in learning, enriching, engaging and sustaining. I am excited about what is ahead for us. This strategic plan is a blueprint for the next stage of our school development and the heart of it is your daughter’s future.
Dr Julie Wilson Reynolds