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This week we welcomed lots of new faces to Wenona, including our new Head of Junior School, Ms Justine Lind.
Self-proclaimed ‘teacher tragic’, Ms Lind is currently celebrating her 30th year in a career she loves. She joins our Junior School from Oxley College in the Southern Highlands where she was the inaugural Head of Junior School for five years. Ms Lind has taught in a variety of Independent Schools, as a classroom teacher, a gifted education specialist and a leader of curriculum. She was the Deputy, Teaching and Learning at St Andrew’s School in Adelaide, where she coordinated the PYP and MYP programs. She also led the establishment of The Honours Program at The Scots College in Sydney while completing her Masters of Educational Leadership.
This week, Ms Lind generously shared her first impressions of Wenona.
How was your first day?
It was fantastic. I asked all the new girls to make a pact with me to share any tips or tricks that they’d learnt for making friends and settling in - as well as sharing any good news about how they were treated by any of the ‘old girls’ who’ve been showing them the ropes. It was lovely to meet so many of the parents too – in particular, it was great to see their sense of cultural alignment with what we do and why.
So why Wenona? And what are you most looking forward to?
I’ve discovered in my career that it’s important to me to feel a sense of cultural alignment with the schools I work in. Wenona’s mission of intentionally empowering young women to take their place in a society of the future and to be a force for good resonates strongly with me. It means that we must respond to the innate capacity of young girls, exploring lifeworthy issues, the big ideas of our time and providing age-appropriate opportunities for self-determination. So far, it seems that these aims are lived out on a daily basis in Wenona’s programs and interactions.
What are your first impressions of Wenona?
Wenona is a happy place, alive with wonderment and a sense of awe about the world, optimistic about future possibilities and has a deep sense of nurturing its people.
You describe yourself as a 'self-proclaimed teacher tragic'. Why teaching? What drew you to the profession in the first place?
Even from my earliest childhood, I always wanted to be a teacher. I couldn’t wait to get started and I still love it every day. My friends and colleagues often laugh at the way I can link just about anything to the importance of teaching or the sharing of wisdom and inspiration with students. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend my days in a role that never feels like work.
How has teaching changed in your time? What challenges and opportunities do you see?
I think that teaching - and education more broadly - has become more courageous. As some sectors of society have become more risk averse, schools must find ways to allow children to soar and to stretch so they can grow. This managed risk-taking is important if children are to develop healthy self-esteem and trust in their own capacity to do things, not to mention build their resilience.
In technological terms, one of my funniest memories was in the early 90’s when a colleague announced he was heading off to do a course on this new thing called ‘the information super highway’. Of course, we now know it as the Internet! It’s the portal to the world and has resulted in the explosion of information and the democratisation of knowledge that has changed the role of the teacher in powerful ways. It’s a great illustration of how education must continually respond to the world and evolve to meet the needs of students, both now and in the future. It’s also exciting for teachers because we too must keep learning.
When you undertook a Master of Educational Leadership, you specialised in Educational Leadership for the Wisdom Era. Can you explain a little bit more about this?
The wisdom era is an emerging concept coming out of the economic and leadership fields of academia. Simply put, it’s the shift from the information age to a time where we use all that information more wisely and it is happening already, driven by commercial interest and social values. Along with social services, areas such as ethical investments, eco-tourism and green industries will employ the wisdom workers of the future. For schools, it’s about learning and leading in a manner that honours both the heart and mind and making decisions that serve the greater good. The research gives us specific ways to do this, so that we can respond to a changing world. We need to be able to grapple with complexity, consider multiple perspectives and create innovative and effective solutions to complex problems. Most of all, it’s humanity and planet-centred and it’s hugely optimistic so it’s easy to embrace as an aspirational way of thinking and being, but not always so easy to achieve… yet!
Education is all about the future, it is legacy building stuff! We touch the future through the children we teach today, so we need to acknowledge our responsibility to equip all children with the skills, knowledge and self-belief that they’ll need to stay safe and strong, with a heart for servant leadership in order to shape the world for the good of all.
Finally, what do you like to do when you are not working?
I grew up in the country (which I still like to visit) but as an adult, I have made Sydney my home. I still love exploring this beautiful city. The art, culture, beaches and vistas always call me and help to feed my soul and sense of wonder, which I try to share with others. I think inspiration is one of the greatest motivators in life. For me, entertaining or exploring with family and friends feeds the heart. And yoga and (not enough) exercise keep my feet on the ground!
Welcome Ms Lind! We are all very excited to welcome you to Wenona.