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From the Principal

But now, this is what the Lord says, he who created you, Jacob; he who formed you, Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.' 
Isaiah 43: 1

We began the year at Siena, ‘Called by Name’, each one of us known and loved by God, and in the words of Cardinal Henry John Newman, each of us called to some service not committed to anyone else. 

Welcome to the 2019 school year.  I extend a special welcome to all who join Siena College for the first time, new students and families and all our new staff.  Antonella Rosati joined the Siena community as Deputy Principal Wellbeing.  Antonella brings extensive leadership experience and new insights to the role, having worked at Presentation College Windsor for the past eighteen years, the last ten years in the role of Deputy Principal.

We are blessed to have a Dominican Sister on staff again in Semester 1.  Sr Sheila Flynn OP has taken on the role of Director of Formation and will work with staff and students to share her deep appreciation and understanding of Dominican spirituality and prepare and accompany students and staff on the South African Immersion in April.  Sr Sheila is well known to many in our community and brings her gifts of poetry and the creative arts, her deep commitment to justice and her experiences and stories of her years spent with the Kopanang community in South Africa, working with women and children trapped in endemic poverty.

At the start of the year, Sr Sheila described St Dominic’s vision as ‘a vision of the radically new, democratic and communitarian, thriving on sharing and shearing, letting go of what no longer works, holding on to what is of value, being prepared to take risks.’  From its very beginnings, the Dominican tradition meant that no one was appointed to leadership forever. 2019 will be my final year as Principal of Siena College.  It is now time for me to let go, to look to new ways to contribute and serve, and time for new vision at Siena College.  The past twelve years have been a graced and privileged time.  I have learned much, formed lifelong friendships and I have been much enriched through the relationships, the professional opportunities, the faith community I am a part of and the charism and framework of Dominican values that I have come to love.  I have worked with wonderful colleagues and students and been privileged to share in the lives of many families.  From the beginning, I have been humbled by the trust placed in me as a very new and inexperienced Principal.

I continue to be excited by all the opportunities that this year offers.  I will do all I can to ensure that Siena College is well placed for the next Principal and to support the Board and the school community in the transition to new leadership.  I thank all who have sent messages and good wishes and have claimed honorary membership of the ‘Class of 2019’.

We begin the year with much to celebrate, outstanding VCE results, new ideas to implement, new roles and new vision. In 2019, we launch a new five year Strategic Plan, we begin the next phase of Master Planning and undergo an external School Review in May that offers great opportunities.  The review will be based on a National School Improvement Tool (NSIT), developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research.  We continue to aim for best practice to enhance our students’ learning and wellbeing and the NSIT will provide leverage for growth, building on our already excellent achievements.  It will provide great impetus for the next steps and real pointers to a way forward based on international research.

In 2019, our improvement agenda is underpinned by four strategic priorities.  We will give particular focus to the following:

  • Strengthening students’ and parents’ connectedness to the College
  • Endeavouring to ensure learning growth for all of the students all of the time
  • Authentically engaging, promoting and responding to student voice 
  • Enhancing our capacity to use data confidently to inform best practice

We look forward to acknowledging the high achievers in the 2018 VCE at our first College assembly on Wednesday, 20 February.  The 2018 VCE results reflect team work and an ongoing strategic intent to enhance our students’ learning and wellbeing outcomes.  The College maintained a top five ranking across all Catholic schools based on the median Study Score of 34 and 17.5% of Study Scores of 40 or above.   While we celebrate the outstanding VCE results of 2018 we are here to educate in a much broader sense, for the young women of Siena College to find meaning and purpose and to contribute to a better world.  I hope you enjoy reading the publication that will be distributed in the next few weeks, celebrating the achievements of Siena students in 2018.

The Convent refurbishment is almost complete.  The spaces look even more beautiful than before and a new Board Room and Heritage Centre will be much used in years to come for community gatherings and celebrations. The building and the refurbishment honours the Dominican Sisters on whose shoulders we stand, their vision and commitment and the generations of Siena women who have graduated since the College was established in 1940.  

It was lovely to celebrate the start of Year 12 with the Class of 2019 and their families, and to wish them a wonderful year.  The committed and generous parents of the Siena Parents’ Association (SPA) invest much in supporting the College and in developing a strong sense of community through the many events that they host over the year, including this breakfast and the forthcoming evenings for parents.  

Our Commencement Mass in St Dominic’s church was a prayerful occasion to welcome our new Year 7s and their parents, and the 2019 student leaders and their families.  I thank all the students who have taken on leadership roles for their commitment to service.  

The calendar is full of community events in March, the welcome evening for Year 7 parents on 1 March, the International Women’s Day breakfast in the Susan Alberti Auditorium on 7 March, the Siena Fun Run at Wattle Park on 24 March, and Siena’s Night of Jazz on 27 March.  We look forward to a great year of learning and celebration and hope you will join us on many occasions as the year unfolds. 


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