Katoomba High principal Jenny Boyall is equal parts "thrilled" and "humbled" after recently being awarded one of only three Harvard Principal Scholarships in Australia for 2021.
Once COVID restrictions ease and she is able to travel to the United States, she will participate in a professional education leadership program, valued at $16,000, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ms Boyall started as principal at Katoomba High in 2013 when the school had only 520 students. Now in 2021 there are 970, with "an increasing number of students moving into their senior years and completing their HSC", she said.
"I feel very humbled to receive the scholarship and am thrilled to accept it on behalf of the whole community.
"It is recognition for the work we have all done, in making Katoomba High the school of choice in the Upper Blue Mountains. It is a great example of what can be achieved when parents/carers, students and community work together in genuine partnership."
The scholarship will start next year with a trip to the oldest institution of higher learning in America and also one of the most prestigious in the world - Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
She said she would have "the amazing opportunity and privilege of working with educators from across the world".
"From what I have heard from past recipients, it is a life-changing experience that allows leaders to reflect, refocus and renew their commitment to educational leadership. I am thrilled to have received the scholarship and look forward to learning from others who are also passionate about public education."
Ms Boyall was officially honoured on Monday night [ May 31] at the Public Education Foundation Annual Awards 2021 after a Sydney council reception.
When she started eight years ago, Ms Boyall said she wanted to build an inclusive learning environment and be visible, authentic, creative and lead by example so as to recognise the potential within every student.
With ten per cent of the school community Indigenous, she said "linking with our local Aboriginal community has been particularly important to me and the creation of Birriban, our Aboriginal outdoor learning space, has been a beautiful journey that highlights the power of authentic community partnerships".
The award is offered by the Public Education Foundation, together with Teachers Mutual Bank and Harvard Club of Australia - Damien Keel - Yarrawonga College P-12 - VIC and Catherine O'Dea- Christies Beach Primary School - SA were the two other recipients.
NSW Department of Education Acting Secretary Georgina Harrisson said it was wonderful to see a regional school leader receive such a prestigious award.
"Jenny Boyall at Katoomba High epitomises our ambition that no matter where our students live they have access to a quality education," Ms Harrisson said.
"Across the past two years, principals like Jenny have played a key role in helping their communities and students thrive in the most challenging of circumstances. This award not only recognises the innovation with which Jenny and her staff met these challenges, but will allow her to build on, and share more widely, her leadership insights."
Ricky Campbell-Allen from the Harvard Club of Australia said: "The Harvard Club of Australia believes investing in the leadership capacity of outstanding public school principals like Damien, Jenny and Catherine - is one the best things we can do to celebrate public education and improve the learning outcomes for all Australian kids".
The Harvard Club of Australia believes investing in the leadership capacity of outstanding public school principals is one the best things we can do to celebrate public education and improve the learning outcomes for all Australian kids