Harvard stint fulfils dream
For one Rockingham principal, it will be a dream come true when she jets off next month to learn from some of the world’s best educators.
Rockingham Beach Primary School principal Jacqui O’Donnell is only one of three in Australia to be awarded the prestigious Harvard Club of Australia Education Scholarship, which will see her undertake a School of Education program centred on leadership.
“I am extremely thrilled and excited — I can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s always been my dream to go to Harvard.
“I will get to connect with and learn from other principals, not just in the United States but across the world.
“It’s around improving leadership skills and getting to talk to those at Harvard — people I’ve read about — to actually sit in a room and learn from them and engage in conversations around what is effective ways in improving schools.
“It is certainly an achievement for me but I couldn’t do what I do without the support of the staff.
“They are incredibly committed educators here and they embraced the change I brought with me when I started here — we are doing phenomenal things.”
Ms O’Donnell is celebrating her fifth year as the principal of Rockingham Beach Primary School after teaching for more than 25 years.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “It took me a little while, though, to get into it because in those days when I left high school, it was very much about getting a job.
“I always wanted to go to university but unfortunately I couldn’t at that stage, so it took until I had children and then I started studying externally and became a teacher.
“I love it. I’m very passionate about it and committed to public schools and education.”
Originally from the UK, Ms O'Donnell first taught in South Australia before moving to WA and falling in love with the community and school in Rockingham Beach.
“The teachers are amazing,” she said.
“I am very fortunate to work here and I’m not in any hurry to leave.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to actually go into the global environment and say ‘look at this school in Rockingham Beach that is doing really great stuff’.
“I said to my staff ‘everyone will know where Rockingham Beach PS is by the time I’m finished’ because it’s an achievement for them and it’s recognition for the hard work they put into everything.”
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