I am very glad to have this opportunity to be introduced to the Gladstone community as the new Principal of Chanel College.
As my first month in this position draws to a close, I have to say that I am feeling very privileged to have been entrusted with the leadership of what I consider to be an outstanding Catholic educational community.
As an educator with over thirty years’ experience in schools, first in Queensland and most recently in Tasmania, I have to say that I am absolutely convinced of the capacity inherent in education to transform the lives of young people. In particular, in coming to Gladstone, a regional city in Central Queensland, I am firmly committed to ensuring that the students of Chanel College have access to high quality academic and vocational education programs, excellent resources, a committed and expert staff, and the opportunity to choose career pathways that will allow them to prosper in their futures – just as their city counterparts do!
As a ‘product’ of rural and regional education myself, I know that all things are possible through education. A lot has changed in my life since I began primary school in the tiny settlement of Mount Surprise in the heart of North Queensland savannah country. Way back in the mid-1960s when I started Grade 1, the Beef Road connecting Mount Surprise to Cairns in the east and Normanton in the west did not exist, the Larva Tubes which have put the region on the tourist map were only known to the locals, and the electricity grid had not extended into what was then quite remote country. The local one-teacher primary school had a total enrolment of about fifteen pupils spread across Years 1 to 7, all taught in the same room. If I was asked to estimate the odds that a ‘product’ of this rural and remote primary school would end up completing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2016 through Curtin University in Perth, I would probably say that the chance was very slim. Yet, I believe that my love of learning and my capacity to be a lifelong learner resulting in my being awarded a PhD last year were born in that tiny, isolated school room.
After completing my primary and secondary schooling at a number of schools across Queensland – from Mount Surprise to Cairns, Marburg to Ipswich, Bowen, and Pittsworth too – I gained my initial teaching qualifications first, at the University of Queensland and then at Australian Catholic University. I have also completed my Graduate Diploma of Arts (Religious Education) and my Master of Arts (Theology) at Australian Catholic University, where I have also had the opportunity to serve, on occasion, as a Sessional Academic.
I have spent my entire teaching career in Catholic Education and have taught at Marcellin College, Enoggera; Soubirous College, Scarborough; Southern Cross Catholic College, a five-campus P – 12 Catholic College in Scarborough; St Rita’s College, Clayfield; and most recently, Guilford Young College, a two-campus senior secondary Catholic College in Hobart. During my career, I have had many opportunities to exercise leadership within Catholic schools and have held the positions of Subject Coordinator, Head of House, Head of Pastoral Care, Assistant Principal – Administration, Assistant Principal – Religious Education, Deputy Principal and Head of Campus. The skills and experience that I have gained in fulfilling the responsibilities associated with each of these positions will no doubt serve me well in my work at Chanel College.
I must say that I am very pleased to be writing for this publication that celebrates International Women’s Day. My doctoral thesis titled, “Thomas Kuhn, Paradigm Revolution Possibilities and Frausein: Patriarchy Seen Yet Unseen” is essentially an examination of the impact of patriarchy and patriarchal structures on the life experiences of women – historically, in the present, and most particularly, within education. It invokes a multi-conceptual, multi-methodological, and inter-disciplinary approach to ‘tell’ the story of women and of their encounters with patriarchy in their life-worlds. My aim in writing was to initiate a global conversation that seeks to open up opportunities for all women to step into a space, stand side-by-side with men, and engage in the kind of authentic dialogue that has the capacity to set us all free – a dialogue out of which will be born ‘transformative possibilities’. Apart from the relief that comes with passing a PhD, I have been very honoured to also receive a Chancellor’s Letter of Commendation for my research and writing.
I will conclude now by saying that I am looking forward to serving the Chanel College community as well as becoming involved in my local Star of the Sea Parish. I am also looking forward to meeting and working with my colleagues from other Gladstone schools and participating in local and regional activities.
Dr Susan Bunkum PhD
Chanel College Principal
If someone was to ask me to identify the attributes of a ‘good school’, I would have at the top of my list, a school that values learning, values people, values diversity and inclusivity, has a committed and proficient staff, and most importantly, one which educates the whole person in all dimensions of his or her life – spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, and emotional. Chanel College does all of this and much more! It is, without doubt, an excellent school in the Gladstone district.
To be a member of this community in its’ fifty-first year, is to be present in a very exciting phase of the life of this College as one of the Catholic Education schools within the Diocese of Rockhampton. In the coming weeks, the second phase of our building plan will be complete and we will move into refurbished state-of-the art facilities which will house Student Services, Learning Support and an Arts Learning and Performance Centre.
The imperative that we provide the best educational programs available for all young people underpins the provision of an incredible array of learning opportunities including formal programs of study, extra-curricular programs in the Arts, Music, cultural pursuits and sport, as well as opportunities to grow in the knowledge and understanding of our lives as people of faith who are called to live out our motto, “To Live Justly.”
The Leadership Team of the College – Susan Bunkum, Geraldine Dyer, Lorraine Johnson and Alison Wales – has a combined total of one hundred and fifteen years of teaching and administrative experience.
As Deputy Principal of the College, Geraldine is an educator who has a passion for Religious Education. This year she will be actively promoting our theme “Be a Light to the World.” Students will be provided with many opportunities to put their faith into action such as the ‘Lenten Rice Day’ on Ash Wednesday when, by buying a cup of rice for lunch, students will be encouraged to stand in solidarity to support the poorest people of the world and to understand their situation a little better.
As Assistant Principal – Curriculum, Lorraine Johnson is committed to leading a quality teaching and learning environment for students, where all students strive for excellence. Her vision is to lead and support teachers as they integrate technology into the contemporary classroom and provide teaching and learning pedagogies that will enable students to engage with the world as 21st Century learners.
As Assistant Principal – Pastoral Care, Alison Wales is committed to promoting the wellbeing of all students and ensuring that our Pastoral Care program is appropriate for our twenty-first century context. Pastoral Care in the College is supported by the vertical pastoral system. This means that we have a mixture of year levels in our Pastoral Care Groups. The Pastoral Care Teacher is a significant adult in the life of a Chanel student as they are their first and last contact every day. Pastoral Care at our College is apparent through our buddy program, social justice activities, student leadership, retreats, House Feast Days and Chanel Day celebrations. Our Pastoral Care Groups are organised into five Houses, named after significant Catholic saints whose charisms inform the attitudes and actions of the members of each House.