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SSC Newspaper : September 2012
22 Strathfield Scene By Bernadette Chua N o one has recorded what local people thought when six Dominican nuns arrived at Strathfield Station on January 9, 1894. But they would have admired their determination. Six days after they set foot in the municipality, they opened the doors of Santa Sabina College with just seven day pupils. Today, the Dominican sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands still own the architectural landmark . There were more than 1000 girls and over 100 boys enrolled last year. But far from being a bastion of tradition, Santa Sabina is a thoroughly modern educational institution with some surprisingly progressive ideas about educating the next generation of young women and future leaders. The school embraces technologies like smart phones, tablets and even Twitter, which it uses to encourage healthy student debate. This week marks a major milestone as the school welcomes a new principal. Maree Herrett was herself a pupil at Santa Sabina, leaving as school captain in 1971. Effectively, she is coming home. But Herrett is certainly not taking Santa Sabina back to the seventies. Her views on gender equality and feminism are certainly very 2012 and beyond. As are her thoughts on the pressures on today’s young people and communication tools they use. Herrett spent the past eight years as the Head of Senior School at MLC Burwood and has brought up three children of her own. Now she is taking on one of the most influential roles in the Strathfield community. Speaking to the Scene about issues such as student stress, ethics, gender equity, greater integration of students and parents in school life and the digital world's role in the classroom, it is clear that her ideas will bring about positive changes to the school. A strong feminist, Herrett greatly believes in gender equity and reevaluating the roles of men and women. Recently completing her PhD in gender equity and policy, this is an ideal she hopes to bring to Santa Sabina. As a mother of three grown children (two girls and one boy) who have gone through school, Herrett sees a lack of gender equity policies in the education system. She hopes to break down the categorisation of women and look at the roles both men and women play in today 's society. “ We should be looking at gender relations,” she says. “Too often, gender is seen as sex difference and it’s much more than that. “For girls, there is a temptation at a middle- class school such as Santa Sabina to think you can have it all, and I think girls need to understand that it isn’t quite like that once they are in the workforce. There are things they are going to have to fight for and challenge.” What Herrett hopes to achieve in her new role is to embed this particular stream of thinking into the school's curriculum and the messages the staff give to students. “ When I speak to the staff in the careers department, I want to make it clear to them that 'career ' for a woman is not just about a paid professional job. There are lots of ways of being a woman,” she says. “It’s about the issues our students are likely to face once they get into the workforce, such as gender issues. It’s about sending that message though embedded education. I am proud of having a feminist perspective. I am not anti-male at all, but it’s about focusing on gender relations.” Herrett will be making the switch from MLC, which is a Uniting Church school to Santa Sabina, founded by Dominican sisters. Though religious, Herrett’s progressive view is that ethics classes are essential in the education system. In her view, ethics are part and parcel with every subject and it is something that all of her students need to be aware of. “I think ethics classes are a wonderful idea,” she says. “Religion is part of the curriculum at MLC and at Santa Sabina, but it’s not just faith-based. It’s also intellectually-based. “I would advocate teaching both a faith-based class and a religion class, but I believe in having an ethics base in any subject a teacher is teaching. "For example, you can’t teach history without considering the ethical perspective.” For a school which advocates the development of strong women and produces high academic results, Herrett says the time from when she finished her own schooling career to the future classes she wants to oversee at Santa Sabina has changed drastically. She claims that there has been an increase in the competitiveness and pressures put on students in the 21st century. Current students going through the education September 2012 life Strathfield’s newest principal says teaching today is about helping our students cope with high anxiety and new technologies. A syllAbus of true equality Xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx. Xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx Xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx Xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx The most important type of education we can give is to equip students with the skills and capacity to deal with problems in life.
September Election 2012