Mark Thomas has stepped down as principal of Korowal School, being replaced by Barb Fitzgerald, who has been a teacher at the school for 18 years and high school co-ordinator since 2008.
This new role comes at an ideal time for Ms Fitzgerald, who recently completed the inaugural Leadership to Principalship Flagship program at the Association of Independent Schools. In her first three months as principal, she has focused on integrating the educational principles that inspired her during the leadership program, most of which are compatible with Korowal’s existing practices.
“Schools must always be for and about their students,” said Ms Fitzgerald. “It is essential we hold the students’ needs in the forefront of every decision the school makes.”
She aims to promote active discussion between students, parents and teachers about children’s learning, and to enhance the students’ understanding of themselves as learners.
The leadership program also explored the internationally acclaimed educational system in Finland. Ms Fitzgerald was struck by the similarities between the Finnish system and Korowal’s approach. In Finland, there are no league tables and few exams. There is a focus on integration — students are not streamed or rushed and play is an essential part of the learning process. These are familiar principles at Korowal.
Ms Fitzgerald is keen to spread the word about the outcomes of a Korowal education. She observed that “from a small school, our graduates have made a disproportionate impact in their chosen fields, from the creative arts through to the sciences, education and humanities”.
“What really stands out, however, is the involvement of our graduates in social justice. We have students working for Aus Aid, Legal Aid, The Inspire Foundation, Medecins Sans Frontieres, The Benevolent Society and Youth Action, often in leadership roles at a relatively young age.”
Mr Thomas will remain at the school as a teacher. During his time as principal he supervised Korowal’s relocation from Leura to Hazelbrook. It was a monumental task to purchase a new property, convert it from a hospital and move the entire school.