Nicole Jones has become a leader at McAuley Catholic Primary School Rose Bay for the second time in her life, close to 30 years after graduating from its Year 6 class as school captain.
As the school’s new principal, Ms Jones has found that while education has changed dramatically in that time the sense of welcome at McAuley has not.
“It’s like coming full circle,” she said. “Things have been beautifully renovated but you can still see that the structure and the bones are the same. That welcoming feeling has never left and I think that is going to be exciting for me to bring to the school that history, but a freshness as well.”
Ms Jones has vivid memories of her time in primary school – from lessons and finding treats at the tuck shop to lunchtimes spent in what was a special playground area for Year 6 students – and remains friends with many of her former classmates.
It is an exciting time in education for both the students and the teachers.
She comes to the principal role at McAuley after four years as an assistant principal and another 16 as a teacher at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School Woollahra.
“I’ve been very lucky to go from one school to another where the community spirit is so strong,” she said.
“Getting to know the parents, teachers and students and having those relationships from the very beginning is something that is important to me. It always comes back to the students, and having high expectations of and for them. Children will always rise to your standard if you believe in them.”
Ms Jones said technology had changed education dramatically, and had a positive role to play in making learning real and relevant for students.
“Children have the learning at their fingertips – that is different to when we were at school and you had to go to a shelf of encyclopedias,” she said.
“Now when children are interested in something or have a question, they can have an immediate answer, and email and do coding hours with people in different schools or countries. It is an exciting time in education for both the students and the teachers, where we can be in touch with classrooms across the world. I feel privileged to be part of it.”