Focus talks to Regina Menz, new Principal for O’Connor Catholic College, who shares her enthusiasm and excitement for the years ahead at the college …
Where are you originally from, and when did you first become a teacher at O’Connor? Tell us about your journey to becoming Principal …
I am originally from Albury, where many of my family still live. I come from a big Catholic family, many of whom are also teachers. I always wanted to be a teacher growing up and as I studied, I developed my passion for science and wanted to share that love through teaching secondary students. I have taught in all school systems and across a number of different states, including Victoria, Northern Territory and NSW.
I moved to Armidale in 2003 with my husband, Paul Frazier, and our three children Kate, Tom and Sam, when my husband was successful in gaining a position as Senior Lecturer at UNE. I started casual teaching at O’Connor during 2003. From there, I gained permanent employment at O’Connor and became Science Coordinator and then Teaching and Learning Coordinator. My children went to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Kate completed her secondary schooling at O’Connor, and Tom and Sam are in Years 12 and 11 respectively at O’Connor.
For the past three years, I have worked for the Catholic Schools Office (CSO), Diocese of Armidale. My work for the CSO involved working with the secondary schools in the Diocese implementing and supporting change in contemporary learning. I worked with Principals, teachers and students to support the adoption of evidence-based practices that engage students to bring about the best learning outcomes for all.
What do you love most about O’Connor Catholic College?
The community, the students, staff and parents. It is truly a unique school, where everyone is welcoming and supportive of each other. People talk about the feel as you walk through the gates. The feel comes from being a community founded on faith. When I walked back through the gates this year as Principal, I felt like I had come home and am honoured to have the opportunity to lead learning at O’Connor.
What will be your vision/goals at the College as Principal?
O’Connor Catholic College is founded on faith and focused on learning. Our vision is a faith filled community working collaboratively to enhance the learning for all, resulting in students who are creative, confident and informed people ready to make a real difference in our world. We believe that everyone can learn, not at the same time or in the same way, and we create learning opportunities for everyone. At O’Connor, learning encompasses our faith learning so integral to our mission as a Catholic school, academic learning so that every student achieves the best learning outcomes, and wellbeing and resilience skills so important for a healthy, balanced life.
Tell us about your team …
Our leadership team is organised around the three pillars of learning – faith, academic and wellbeing. The leadership team has a wealth of experience in a range of educational areas – Mr Simon Fleming is our Assistant Principal and Curriculum Coordinator, Mr Damian Roff is our Religious Education Coordinator, Mrs Alicia Pringle is our Leader of Pedagogy, Mr Jon Hawthorne is our Pastoral Academic Care Coordinator, Mr Ross Conlon is our Pastoral Welfare Coordinator.
Mrs Mellissa Bell is our Student Support Coordinator and leads our learning hub.
We have an enthusiastic staff who work collaboratively to enhance learning. This year due to an increase in enrolment, we welcomed many new staff, including:
Mrs Julie Burton (Reception/Front Office), Madame Florence de Crespigny (Languages – French Teacher), Mrs Marg Conlon (Canteen), Mrs Vicki Cooper (Uniform Shop), Mrs Heidi Gerberich (Literacy Teacher), Mrs Amanda Howard (Reception/Front Office), Ms Sue McLeod (Leader of Learning (English)), Miss Olivia Moore (LaSallian Youth Minister), Mr Brad Powers (Science Teacher) and Mrs Delwyn Smidt (PDHPE Teacher).
You have your first STEP day coming up in March; what is this?
Our STEP (Stage Three Enrichment Program) is our transition program for students in Years 5 and 6 to experience some of the learning opportunities that exist at O’Connor. It gives students a taste of what high school is like and makes the transition to O’Connor a smooth one. We hold four STEP days a year. The first one is on Wednesday 8th March for Year 6 students. Year 6 students from all schools are invited to attend to experience learning at O’Connor. For more information or to reserve a place, please contact our friendly admin staff, Mrs Amanda Howard, Mrs Julie Burton and Mrs Gemma Creagan on 6772 1666 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org