Home' Aurora : Aurora November 2011 Contents 20
| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
FIFTY YEARS AGO Principal of St
Columban's Primary School Mayfield,
Jennifer Crichton (nee Connor), started
kindergarten. Back then the school was
called St Columbanus', the girls wore
box pleated tunics and some students
boarded at nearby San Clemente
Now all these have disappeared but
Jennifer said the school still feels "like
one very large family".
"There has always been a really warm,
really loving feeling at the school."
Of her first day at kindergarten she
recalled, "I was in a big room with lots
of children feeling quite scared. I don't
remember the nuns trying to get us to
look at the camera."
However she does remember falling in
love with learning.
"It was the Dominican nuns who instilled
that love in me.
"I'm here now because of the Doms. They
gave me a quality education, but more
importantly helped me to experience a
loving God and I wanted to be able to
give that to others."
Her career as a teacher is testament to
her passion. Over 34 years Jennifer has
taught at Mayfield, Hamilton, Raymond
Terrace and Edgeworth. She has been
an IT resource person, a Learning
Support teacher, presented papers at
conferences and directed programs for
students in disadvantaged schools.
Alongside teaching she continued
studying and is pursuing a Master's in
Religious Education at the Australian
"I've always studied something. When
you're in teaching you just do, you need
to update and refresh your skills."
She holds a firm belief that learning
goes beyond the classroom and
aims to teach children compassion,
acceptance of diversity and social justice.
"My motto is, 'You are my eyes to look
upon the world, my voice to speak out,
my hands to reach out and touch my
people, you are the face of God.'"
This adage is at the heart of St
Columban's and she was continually
"Every time I left Mayfield or resigned
from teaching I was sent back, so I
decided that's where I was supposed
And eighteen months ago, after eight
years as assistant principal, she applied
for the top job.
"I had a couple of really strong mentors,
especially former principal Michael Doyle.
If it wasn't for them and my family I
wouldn't have taken it on."
Describing a typical day she said, "I
rarely find time to sit in my office. I'm
usually with children who need to be
withdrawn or given a little extra support.
Then there are staff meetings, meetings
with parents and outside agencies. You
need to make sure the children are
receiving the programs that meet their
needs and that we're sourcing the right
resources. The important things come
first. Paperwork gets done much later."
Highlights for her are the beautiful
children, hardworking staff ("never take
them for granted") and strong renewed
"I am very privileged because families
entrust their children into my care. They
hand you their most precious gift and
allow you to share in their child's growth
and journey with God."
It is also a challenge; a word Jennifer
said that encapsulates her work.
"All the changes in education, in society,
in parental views, it's challenging."
She smiles, "But I like a challenge."
DEVELOP. CREATE . CHALLENGE . PERFORM
A s o new o esan
n t at ve to p omote and
eleb ate the eat ve and
pe fo m ng a ts. Asp e
s ava lable to st dents
n Yea s 5 -12 a oss all
s hools n the Ma tland-
New astle o ese.
t dents who have talent
n m s , dan e and d ama
a e en o aged to a d t on
fo one of fo ensembles --
nst mental (stage band),
vo al, dan e ( ontempo a y)
and d ama.
The ensembles w ll be
d e ted by nd st y
p ofess onals.
ee yo n pal o
Coo d nato fo deta ls.
Still in love ---
By SIOBHAN MCALARY
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