Family educators have played a key role in creating vibrant faith communities at Sydney Catholic Schools since their role was introduced in 2009.

Meet the initiative’s newest faces, who bring a wealth of life experience to their roles.

Family educator at Sydney Catholic Schools Claudia Maroun.St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Riverwood’s family educator Claudia Maroun was a family educator in 2018 and “absolutely loved it”.

A parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima Kingsgrove and mother of three, she has spent 20 years in the university education sector and three in the NDIS.

Mrs Maroun looks forward to building strong relationships with St Joseph’s families through initiatives including playgroup and SPaR sessions, and supporting charity One Meal.

 “I knew in my heart that I would be back doing this role again one day,” she said. “It allows me to share the beauty and love of the faith.”

Family educator at Sydney Catholic Schools Kristian Tangso.St Paul of the Cross Dulwich Hill’s family educator Kristian Tangso put her pharmaceutical science degree to use on a project to develop nanotechnology to treat brain tumours before discovering her calling.

Now an artist, family educator, and a lay Carmelite, she strives to live a simple, prayerful life and to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ little by little every day.

Stop, Pray and Reflect (SPaR) and Toddler Tale sessions are in the works at her school.

Family educator at Sydney Catholic Schools Anne Johnson.St Kevin’s Catholic Primary School Eastwood’s family educator Anne Johnson was a family mentor for more than 12 years at Tangara School, helping students to set academic and personal goals and parents to connect with the school.

The Music and Religious Education teacher – also a nature and podcast lover, and mother of six children – is looking forward to using this experience in various ways in the Family Educator role. 

Family Educator at Sydney Catholic Schools Richie Leilua.Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Primary School Mt Prichard’s family educator Richie Leilua has a firm faith and background in sport and fitness. The father of one and NRL fan plays touch football on the weekends. He plans to provide access to faith development program Alpha and community English classes during his tenure, so families can grow in faith and confidence.

Family educator at Sydney Catholic Schools Cristina Fortunati.St Vincent’s College Ashfield’s family educator Cristina Fortunati embarked on a faith-led journey from Italy to Australia with her husband and three young children in 2006.

She was drawn to the role after seeing the need for a greater connection between school and parish when her own children started school.

“Faith and sharing are fundamental elements in our lives, and I am confident to share anything God gives me every day and that together, we can create an environment of growth and mutual support,” she said.

“My purpose is to listen, learn, and collaborate to promote our families’ well-being and strengthen the bond that unites us.”

A ‘Breakfast with Dad’ on the feast day of St Joseph was one of her first initiatives in the role, and gave fathers and their children a moment to celebrate and pray together.

Family educator at Sydney Catholic Schools Michelle Vella.Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School Carnes Hill’s family educator Michelle Vella swapped a teaching and Religious Education Coordinator role at the school for one as its family educator after taking parental leave to care for her youngest of two children.

She has taught at Sydney Catholic Schools for the past 12 years and held a variety of leadership roles. Now she looks forward to getting to know her school community at a deeper level.

“My parish embraces all with radical hospitality, serves with humility, nourishes the faith of all and responds to the needs of our neighbours,” she said.

“Being a part of a community who does this so well has, I believe, equipped me with the mind and heart to serve the wonderful families in my school community.”