PODCAST: Meet the St Francis College, Crestmead Principal and Leadership Team

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Podcast Transcript

John Marinucci: I’m John Marinucci, many of the students call me Mr. M. I’m not totally new here at SFC, however, I was new in 2017, as Head of Campus 7-12, and for the majority of 2018 as Acting Principal. I’m so deeply honoured to be the next Principal at St. Francis College. I’ve spent over 30 years in Catholic education because I believe in it. Catholic education focuses on developing the whole child, academically, spiritually, socially, ethically, culturally, and through sport.

John Marinucci: As a Catholic educator we are not only called to teach the curriculum in life skills, but to care and love individuals. Our character education focuses on integrity and compassion. It is an immense privilege to work in partnership with the families, to walk with young people through the ups and downs, and encourage them to have a firm foundation of hope for the future, that is what I’m passionate about.

John Marinucci: What attracted me to St. Francis College? Well, definitely the values and the culture. SFC is a multicultural and multi-faith community of diverse learners, we derive our strength from our diversity. St. Francis has a warmth, a feeling, an atmosphere, a sense of belonging and inclusivity. I love the openness and friendliness of the students, especially in conversation with me as I wander through the grounds. The motto ‘In Simplicity and Harmony’ encapsulates what we are all about. Life in a P-12 school is so different to any other type of school.

John Marinucci: I want to instil a culture of belonging, community, and discipline, in the classroom and in self discipline for the students. Students need to be adaptable, agile, and persevere through challenge. We are about empowering young people in growing to reach their potential in order to make a positive difference. We aim to make the students the best versions of themselves.

John Marinucci: What makes me proud? Seeing the excitement of student’s faces, whether it’s in the classroom or in the playground. I’m passionate about making education fun, and the well being of students, education is the basis of all things. Our teachers are amazingly inspiring and have a positive influence. I love teaching because of the difference you can make in the young person’s life. I love watching those light-bulb moments, where they get an idea and take it to the next step, the intellectual rigour.

John Marinucci: The message I state to students is that hard work, dedication and grit, is more important than IQ, having a growth mindset and always trying to do your best. My vision, together with the College Leadership Team, is to build a community connected school. Our desire is to have infrastructure that supports education and learning. Our aim is to build and strengthen on current highlights, to become a great school, a learning community, in which 21st century schooling.

John Marinucci: We want to influence the hearts and minds of students to make a difference as we prepare for the adult world, the world beyond schooling. I’m excited to continue working with the staff, students, and the wider community as we move forward. I’m genuinely excited for the future of St. Francis, take it to the next step. Come by and say hello.

David Macknish: My name is David Macknish . I’m the Head of Campus Prep – 6, at St. Francis College at Crestmead. That involves the operation and curriculum in pastoral elements of the school, taking care of the Prep to Year 6 students. So, from the little tykes from four years of age, up as far as that transition that moves towards the secondary year levels of Year 7-12.

David Macknish: Prep to Year 6? Well each of those year levels are incredibly pivotal in the development of each child. Starting from Prep, where our students come in with a whole range of different experiences and skills, and so, in the Prep Year we’re beginning to build on some of those early literacy and numeracy skills. And, as we go through the primary school, all the way through, up to Year 6, we’re continuing to build, so that each of the curriculum areas is getting more and more complex and sophisticated.

David Macknish: Building towards a lot of critical thinking, so that, that way, then, when the students move into those years, 7-12 years, they’re not just recalling content, or using certain processes to work out problems, they’re actually thinking creatively and uniquely to try to solve problems that may come their way, because, ultimately in life, that’s what life is.

David Macknish: We deal with things that come our way, and no two things are ever the same, so there’s never just one solution to any situation. And that’s where the curriculum helps to build that knowledge and that skill, so that the students are able to make those decisions based on the situations that are put before them.

David Macknish: Well with the Australian curriculum, ultimately, all year levels should have a smooth transition to the next, however, in a Prep to Year 12 School it’s not just the curriculum that has that regular step forward. It’s the pastoral side of things, it’s, understanding the nature and the context of the school, it’s also that continuity of relationships. Relationships between students, relationships between teachers and students, students and teachers. The knowledge of each of those students, their backgrounds, their families, their stories, as well as the relationships between the older ones and the younger ones. And that integration of, for the older students, that leadership of the younger ones.

David Macknish: For the younger ones, it’s also, then, about looking up at the older students, the Year 11’s and 12’s. Admiring what they’ve achieved, and who they’ve become, and having the younger students, then, aspire to be like those older students, or to walk a little in their footsteps.

David Macknish: We have our regular meetings between staff, that are not just Prep to Year 6, but Prep to Year 12. We do have our Middle Leader Meetings, we have our Pastoral Meetings, where, that sort of information is discussed quite regularly. And, certain students that get raised in Year 7, we’re able to add to the story, that the Year 7 teachers are aware of, and also contribute parts to that story, of, things that have worked in the past to assist, or engage, or connect with those students. And also, potentially, some things that may have hindered the process. It might be a healing process, or it might be a process to help engage the student in the curriculum and their schoolwork.

Michelle Kelly: Hello everyone, my name is Michelle Kelly. I’m Acting Head of Campus Years 7 – 12. My role in the college is to look after the learning and well-being of all the students from Year 7-12. I’ve been a member of staff on this college for many years, and have been lucky enough to see many students come through from Year 7, and change, and develop, and be very successful Year 12’s leaving the college. I hope that this year will be a good one and we’ll have many successes across our learning growth.

Michelle Kelly: St. Francis is a place of real community, a very welcoming place. We’re very diverse, we’ve got many different faiths, many different cultures here, and we’re very accepting, and we celebrate the diversity here. Our school motto is ‘In Simplicity and Harmony’, and we live that every day at St. Francis College. Definitely a strength, we learn from each other, we celebrate together, and we celebrate the diversity.

Rob Canning: My name is Rob Canning. I am Assistant Principal RE, from Prep to Year 12. It’s a new position that was created for this year. There’s two parts to my job, the assistant principal part, which I’m sure everyone’s familiar with, and the RE part, which stands for religious education. Inside the religious education there’s also two different dimensions as well. So, part of my job is overseeing the curriculum, so we’re looking at the quality delivery of religious education inside St. Francis here. The question that quite often happens is, why is St. Francis different to the state school down the road? And so, it is that religious dimension.

Rob Canning: So, children will be receiving religious education, but they’ll also be receiving, or participating in the religious life of the school. So, I have to oversee the Catholic identity and the mission of the Catholic Church inside the school. I’m also connected to the Parish Community, St. Maximilian Kolbe, as I am their Sacramental Coordinator. We not only explore the Catholic religion, we explore other religions as well, and celebrate that in our community environment.

Nella Rizzo: Hello, my name is Nella Rizzo, and my role is Assistant Principal in the Curriculum area in the high school. A lot of my role is also creating the timetable, but generally curriculum, particularly for the senior school. And I also help students with some subject selection. So, this year is the first year in Year 11 where the students are embarking on the new system. It’s a system where students will engage with the curriculum over two years.

Nella Rizzo: They will also, it’s slightly different in the sense that they will have units rather than semesters to cover, and they will need to be successful in each of those units. Whereas, previously, it was what they achieved at the end of their study that their result was based on, but now they’ll need to be achieving at the end of each unit to get their credits for their QCE.

Nella Rizzo: Along with that is the external exams for Year 12. And also, it looks like they’ll be starting Unit 3 in term 4 of this year, so that, the Year 11s will be starting their Year 12 work, if you like, a little bit earlier. Maths and science is a little bit heavier on the external, so it’ll be worth 50% of their external, which is developed by QCAA, so even the teachers don’t know what the assessment will be.

Nella Rizzo: They will have an idea, but yeah … So it’s quite a different system, but I’m sure that our teachers … The teachers have been receiving a lot of professional development around that, so they’re very switched on about the new system. And our students, also, along the way, will be supported, and there’s a lot of resourcing around that as well.

Nella Rizzo: So, professional development is ongoing. Brisbane Catholic Education also has supported our professional development, as well as the QCAA. Brisbane Catholic Education is holding Expert Teacher Group Meetings, where the teachers in those subject areas will meet twice a year to keep developing those units, and being well resourced. We’re also sharing our practice, which is quite new but quite excellent, in terms of, what they’re putting together. So the teachers feel confident, I believe, with the new system. And like I said, they’re really well resourced and prepared for what’s coming.

David Gall: I’m David Gall, I’m the Assistant Principal for Learning Growth from Prep to 12. My role at the college is to support students and teachers, to ensure that our students have the best success in their learning. So the major projects this year include the roll-out of a One-to-One Technology Programme, laptops to all students in grade 7, 10, and 11. And also with that is, has been about a lot of professional development for teachers to teach the curriculum better, particularly improving the way in which our students develop literacy from Prep to 12.

David Gall: I get involved in all aspects of the school, including the sporting parts of the college, as well as supporting our Behaviour Team, getting to know our students better, and how we work best with students in the classroom.