Winmalee High School has welcomed its new principal on board, only the third to take the reins since the school opened in 1985.
Katrina Middlebrook arrived at Winmalee from Greystanes High School at the beginning of this term and has “hit the ground running”, welcomed by students and staff alike.
“I knew it was a great school,” she told the Gazette.
“It’s got staff that absolutely love this school and are open about saying it. They love coming to work, it’s really refreshing. they love what this school represents.
“I said to the kids at assembly a school like this does not just happen, that only happens because of a lot of good will to staff who give a lot of time out of school hours.
“I am a believer in the development of the whole child and I think that’s the strength of this school.”
Ms Middlebrook rounds out the last principal’s appointment at the three major Lower Mountains public high schools, with females now in the top job at Winmalee, Blaxland and Springwood high schools.
And while she is the first female principal for Winmalee High School, Ms Middlebrook said she didn’t feel under extra pressure due to her gender.
“There’s only ever been two principals before me, Laurie Lawless from 1994 to 2011 and the other gentleman before him from 1985 to 1994,” she said.
“I don’t feel a pressure as a woman, I don’t think ability as a principal is determined by your gender. My pressure is to work with the staff who have not undergone change for a long time. They have had stability and the same way of operating for 17 years, and a natural fear for people is that I bring change and the uncertainty that comes with change.
“My role, I think, is to be very collaborative and sharing, I will be asking opinions of what they think are the three most important issues of the school and . . . we will problem solve together.”
Winmalee students “love what they do”, and parents were also very supportive of the school, she said.
“The kids are really happy . . . well mannered, polite and respectful,” Ms Middlebrook said.
“The kids have been welcoming, they have been saying, “hi Miss, how are you going, welcome to Winmalee”. They are good kids.”
Originally from Dungog, Ms Middlebrook is a self-confessed “country girl” who said she understood living in a small community.
“I understand living in a rural area and understand the importance of relationships in rural communities, and the importance of feeling a principal is doing the right thing by the school and the community,” she said.
“I know I am living in a very good community and that’s reassuring to a principal.”