Fintona Girls' School | <p><b>great things</b> come from a small package</p>
Amy Miers
Junior School Teacher

Amy Miers began her association with Fintona in 1988 as a student in the Junior School. After completing her teaching degree and working in a variety of educational settings, including two years in an International School in Shanghai, Amy returned to Fintona in 2012. She spent a few years teaching Year 5 in the Middle School and is now teaching Year 4 in the Junior Campus. Amy is also a parent at the School with her son starting in the ELC this year.


Who inspired you to teach?

I suspect I was always destined to be a teacher as many of the women in my family are either teachers or have chosen careers in other care centred professions such as nursing and psychology. The value and importance of education has been part of our family story for generations. My mum has recently retired from over 40 years as an educator, 17 of those as a school principal. Her dedication to her vocation and the care she genuinely felt for each student, each family and each staff member was awe-inspiring. She has the rare ability to balance strength in her convictions with compassion for others, and high intellect and professionalism with a sense of fun and humour. This is absolutely the model to which I aspire.

What do you enjoy about working at Fintona?

There are many qualities of the Fintona Community that make working here enjoyable. A common theme amongst them is the relationships with the people. My colleagues are a passionate group of educators who inspire, encourage and support. The non-teaching staff members are equally passionate about their areas of expertise. I am deeply grateful for all the ways in which they support me personally and create such a warm and collegial workplace. The families throughout my time at Fintona have all worked in partnership with me to create a vibrant learning environment for their daughter. Of course, the best part of working at Fintona is the young women I have the privilege to teach. The joy they find in exploring, testing, discovering and learning, and the fun we have while engaging in this together makes this a wonderful place in which to work.

What is it about working in girls only education that attracts you?

We know that there are distinct differences in the way that girls learn. We also know that in spite of improvements in recent times, issues of pay parity and equal opportunity are still relevant today. Perhaps it is the Old Fintonian in me, but I believe that working in girls only education is my way of contributing to the development of strong young women. My aspiration is that an education at Fintona results in our students finding their voice, finding their place in the world and finding ‘success’ in whichever way is authentic for them.

In your experience, what do you believes has the largest impact on successful learning outcomes for girls?

There is a saying along the lines of, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I believe it may have been paraphrased from Theodore Roosevelt. This has always been the central tenet of how I teach and how I believe optimum learning occurs. Creating a trusting working relationship with students allows one to push them outside their comfort zone, celebrate with them in their successes and encourage them to persevere even when they experience failure. I believe that knowing ‘who we are’ when things go wrong and ‘what to do’ when we hit hurdles and challenges facilitates a strong pathway for ongoing success.

What is the best advice you can give students?

Say ‘Yes’ to as many of the opportunities provided here at Fintona as possible. Evidence from a Hewlett Packard research study found that women are more likely to apply for positions when they meet more than 90% of the qualifications required, whereas men are confident to apply when they have met 60%. With that in mind, my advice is to, ‘put your hand up, volunteer your time and take part in a broad range of activities’. Even if you are only half interested, have a go and see where the opportunity may take you. This should hold you in good stead when you are considering whether to submit that application to start a career in business or one of the health professions, whether to audition for that role in Theatre or the Arts, or whether to apply for positions in government. The possibilities are endless.

Who is your inspiration?

I am not particularly prone to idolatry and so choosing one person is quite difficult. A quality that I find inspirational is courage. To consider multiple perspectives on a given issue and then respectfully stand in one’s truth is what courage looks like to me. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who know who they are, pursue their goals with steadfast determination and persist even in the face of doubt and criticism.

How have you found online teaching?

I think it is evident to everyone in our community that this has been an extremely challenging period of time. However, in years to come, I do not think I will recall the late nights and myriad of ‘technical difficulties’. What I will remember is the ways in which I was challenged professionally to innovate and create, and the ways in which I developed my ICT skills at record speed! I will remember the depth of gratitude I felt from the parent body and the close partnerships that were forged as a result. This helped to create a rigorous learning space for their daughters. Most of all, I will remember the absolute delight in seeing my Year 4 students rise to each challenge. They have grown through this experience, surprised me with their insights and capacity to learn independently and above all kept me laughing each day. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Working full-time with a three year old at home, the notion of ‘spare time’ is quite a novel idea! When I do have a moment to myself, I enjoy taking a Pilates class, exploring the local nature reserve near my home, gardening, baking and reading. I also enjoy excursions to the Zoo and museums with my little one and I regularly frequent the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with family and friends. I have also become quite the Thomas the Tank Engine expert and I now know the difference between flatbed and curtain sider trucks as a result of raising a beautiful little boy.

Jacqui Pugh
Head of Middle School

Education is Jacqui Pugh’s second career. After starting university, she took a 5-year gap sojourn and worked in five-star hotels and restaurants in Whistler, Canada and England. After running her own hospitality and catering business from the age of 25, she returned to her original dream of being an Art teacher. Married to Michael, also a teacher, they have three adult children.

Prior to starting at Fintona Jacqui worked at Oxley College, an Independent School in Bowral NSW, where she held positions of leadership in Pastoral Care, Teaching and Learning and Curriculum.

Who inspired you to teach?

My Year 5 teacher, Ms Cambridge, was pivotal as she instilled in her students a sense of creativity, ownership and responsibility in our learning journey. You could tell that she believed in us. We were given many opportunities such as public speaking, chess challenges, writing plays and having a voice with the Local Council. She also had a team of us redesign unused spaces off the library and transformed them into different themed reading caves, and we built a space age room with special effect lighting and large fibreglass animals for the Africa safari room. It was so innovative for the time that it was filmed for Simon Townsend’s television show, Wonder World.

My high school Art teacher, Mr Wetherby, also played a role in me becoming a teacher. The art rooms at lunchtimes were always a place of solace. Under his tutelage, I found a passion for Art History.He challenged his students to know the art timeline from Ancient Greece through to the 19th Century and not just the Western perspective. I often draw on this knowledge when I teach Conceptual or Political Art across time.

What do you enjoy about working at Fintona?

The teachers are so invested in their students and masters of their subjects. They have a great relationship and understanding of the girls and how they learn. The girls are also my inspiration; they are such a pleasure to teach. I will always remember the first lessons I taught at Fintona and the eagerness of the girls to learn. To watch them take in every word and ask questions without prompting is any teachers delight. At Fintona, there is so much more time to teach the deeper concepts that you don’t always get to do in other schools.

In your experience what do you believe has the greatest impact on successful learning outcomes for girls?

The aspect that has a significant impact on girls'education is teacher efficacy, understanding and believing in each girl and the way they learn. I have seen this in action at Fintona. The teaching profession is an exciting field that is forever changing with new research coming out all the time compelling teachers to be flexible and open. Experienced teachers have a teacher tool kit they that they can bring to any situation and that will have an impact in their classroom at any given time. They can read what tools are needed for a specific lesson and are willing to change tools if it is not working. For example, one lesson they may need to use explicit teaching strategies, or learning intentions, another may need more formative feedback, while the next lesson may need worked examples. I like John Hattie’s quote “Know thy impact” and at Fintona this is evident.

What is your best advice for students?

I always encourage the Middle School girls to involve themselves in new opportunities. Try new things now when you are young. You don’t have to be an expert straight away as it may be something that needs practice or research. I know when I was at school I put my hand up for all different sports. I was not a swimmer and when they were short on the Water polo team I somehow agreed to have a go. I knew I wouldn’t be very good. This proved to be accurate as I almost drowned but now I can say I have tried Water polo. I also encourage girls not to pigeonhole themselves by saying “I am not sporty or I am only good at maths”. The brain is a fantastic muscle that can change with practice.

Who is your inspiration?

My parents inspired me to always believe that I can do anything you set your mind to (within reason). They also instilled in me a strong work ethic. Part of my growing up was on a sheep and wheat farm in country NSW, where there were always jobs to be done. Working alongside my parents on the farm never seemed like work, so I feel they inspired me to love what I do and never let work feel like a chore. I read a lot of biographies most recently Michelle Obama’s and Gail Kelly’s and I draw inspiration from their journey of making a difference. But it is my husband and children that ground me, are there for me each day and bring me back to earth.

How have you found Remote Learning?

I have enjoyed the challenge of Remote Learning. Using technology to enhance pedagogy has always interested me. I completed most of my postgraduate studies online, so I understand it from the perspective of a student. It has been difficult at times as we miss the interaction with the girls. Art is so hands on, so like many subjects not easy to teach in a remote environment. Knowing this, I have been so impressed with how the teachers have adapted and responded to the needs of their subject in unique ways.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love exploring new places and I am a passionate lifelong learner. I have always been drawn to the outdoors. Depending on the time of the year, it could be a summer beach camping, hiking, touring or skiing in winter. Since moving to Melbourne last year, I have been amazed by the cultural opportunities with the galleries, restaurants and performance spaces. I thought the current coronavirus situation and the forced isolation was going to be hard for me as I rarely spend time sitting still, but I have discovered the beautiful Melbourne walking trails, and I have an app to ensure I don’t get lost. Having time to be creative is also a priority. Lately, this has been painting and post isolation I want to take up ceramics again.

Nick Capriolo

Nick Capriolo began at Fintona in 2009. He teaches English in the Middle and Senior Schools and Legal Studies in the Senior School but as well as being a well-respected and talented teacher, Nick actually began his career as an industrial and graphic designer and then later became a lawyer.  He tells us more about his interesting journey from the ‘artworld’ and academia to teaching secondary school girls at Fintona.

You have had several, quite diverse careers.  When did you know that a teaching career was your true vocation?

After completing an Honours Degree in Literature and Philosophy, I taught at the University of Melbourne in the Philosophy department for about eight years while completing post-grad and working in the law. I found tertiary teaching stimulating but not as rewarding as I subsequently found secondary teaching – it is less fraught with egos and it’s more challenging to teach students to walk rather than run. Also, I soon discovered that besides being the most enervating job, it is one of those careers that you never question the worthiness of what you are doing - it has an immeasurable soul-enriching effect.

As a teacher, where have you worked prior to coming to Fintona?

My first teaching position was at Thomas Carr College, a large, co-educational Catholic school in the Western suburbs. I then applied for a position at Fintona The contrast between the schools could not have been greater and it was not long before the impeccable behaviour and conscientiousness of the students, as well as the warm collegiality of the staff, convinced me my choice of career was not a mistake. I was fortunate to start teaching Legal Studies for Years 11 and 12, as well as Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, in English. The range of year levels was demanding but engaging.

What do you think students find most appealing about your classes?

I do find that if a teacher is candid and treats students as possessing the ability to judge the fundamentals of life and learning as capably as anyone else, they respond to the intellectual independence with which you credit them; students of all ages have a keen radar for teachers’ pretensions or incompetence. Also I find humour a great leveller and communal device.  I believe that when a teacher and students share laughter, it is one of the most positively nourishing moments.

You love to read. What are your favourite books?

Philosophy is my strongest academic interest and I tend to read philosophical journals and texts. As far as literature goes, I generally read poetry rather than prose, however I keep revisiting the classics; Joseph Conrad and Nabokov are probably my favourites. I also read anything Ian McEwan writes.

Can you tell us what your interests are outside of school?  

My external interests include architecture and building; I have been building my own house for the last twenty years. I indulge in photography and painting when I can, but would love the confidence and time to be less of a dilettante and focus on writing and painting. Over the last few years, due to the recent phenomenal technology, I have experienced a belated passion for music of all genres. I wholeheartedly agree with Kurt Vonnegut, another of my favourite authors, for an atheist, music is the closest thing to the divine.

Chris Williams

Chris Williams has been a teacher at Fintona since 2008. He teaches Year 12 Economics and Accounting, Year 11 Economics, most Commerce electives,Year 8 Geography and Year 7 History.  He is a Year 10 Tutor and the Ower House Teacher. To keep things balanced, he is also Fintona’s Junior Tennis and Soccer Coach. His skill in all things numerical is well known around the traps and he puts this into practice by working with the Year 4s in mathematical problem solving. While many students speak highly of Mr Williams’ classes, his biggest fan is his daughter Scarlett who provides endless hours of entertainment. Even the lack of sleep has no effect when she comes running up to him and jumps into his arms at the end of the day. And she loves coming to Tutor group on the odd occasions to meet the ‘big girls’!

You weren’t always a teacher. What is your background and why did you make a change to education?

I come from a Commerce background and most recently prior to teaching, I was an investment analyst for a Funds Manager, valuing Australian companies on the stock market. I have a Masters in Applied Finance as well as other commerce post graduate qualifications. I loved what I did but decided that I wanted to make a difference in the world and hopefully change people’s lives. Investing people’s money was personally satisfying but I wanted to have a more direct influence and had a passion to work with children.

What is the most satisfying aspect of being a teacher?

There is nothing more satisfying then seeing the growth in an individual from Year 4 right up to seeing them graduate from Year 12. To see a student ‘get it’ who has struggled with a topic in class, after spending one on one time with them, is really satisfying. 

What do you think the students find appealing about your classes?

I hope they like that the classes are linked to the real world, and that I am able to bring my real life experience to my classes. They are able to use many of the skills they learn in class in their own lives, and most importantly they understand the world around them, how it impacts on them and how they impact it. My classes tend to be quite interactive and the students really enjoy the hands on learning that enables them to apply their skills and knowledge.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I play football for Hawthorn Amateurs in the winter and cricket for Bulleen in the summer. I also love reading, and am working my way through the collection of Charles Dickens (halfway thus far) with my favourite book being David Copperfield.

Angela Raven

Since arriving at Fintona almost two years ago teaching Year 7 – 11 Mathematics, Angela inspires her students to enjoy Maths by helping them develop faith in their own ability. However there is more to Angela than algebra, geometry and equations.  Previously, she taught a combination of Mathematics and Physical Education at secondary school level and held the position of Head of Sport for eight years. She is a passionate exponent of girls only education having taught in an all girls’ school environment for over 24 years. She is currently a Year 7 Tutor in the Middle School.

As a new teacher to Fintona, what was your first impression of the School?

At first it is the gardens that draw you in – they are really beautiful and make an excellent first impression. I like the size of the School – it has a real sense of community and enables staff to truly know each other as well as each student. The small class sizes mean that I can give greater time to each girl and more easily cater for individual needs. While Fintona is a non-denominational School I see it as being a multi-denominational and multi-cultural School. I enjoy this aspect as I believe that it is a better reflection of today’s society. It is a melting pot of cultures and with diversity there comes a better understanding and tolerance of others.

What is the best thing about being a teacher?

The students. They teach me something new every day and always make me laugh. I love their ‘can do’ attitude and enthusiasm for learning. Students, especially those in the Middle School, tend not to be sceptical or cynical and are ready to change ‘the world’. They have many ‘aahhaa’ moments when learning something new.

How do you make Mathematics fun for the girls?

I try to inspire students by working closely with them and affirming to them that they can solve mathematical problems. By building faith in themselves, the students then develop a positive attitude towards Mathematics and want to learn. Sometimes Mathematics is fun while other times it takes sheer hard work on the students’ behalf. It is important to balance the two. It is often the dynamics present within a class that makes it fun. Teaching requires a good deal of flexibility – I have never met two students who respond the same way to new information.

Since starting at Fintona I have been a Tutor at Year 7. Last year my Tutor Group and I learnt about Fintona together. It is really important to me to make an effort to get to know the whole student as a lot of ‘teaching’ is done outside of the classroom. I am really proud of any student who tries to be the best person that they can be. I try to help and encourage each student to: identify their talents, be accepting of individual differences and improve their resilience.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am very close to my family; I am one of six girls and I have eleven nieces and nephews. There is always someone to support or something to celebrate. I also enjoy travelling overseas and am currently studying Italian. Santa bought me a bicycle for Christmas and I try to cycle every weekend. Reading is another hobby that I enjoy. 

Brit Biviano
Art Co-ordinator
Brit Biviano joined Fintona in Term 4 in 2012 as Acting Art Co-ordinator and was permanently appointed Art Co-ordinator in 2014.  With a Bachelor Arts (Visual) from Deakin University and a Bachelor of Teaching from the University of Melbourne, Brit has been teaching since 1999. He will be completing his Masters in Fine Arts at Monash University later this year. Brit is also an accomplished artist in his own right having recently sold out his paintings at a local exhibition.  
When did you develop your love for art and what did you do prior to Fintona?

While I was in secondary school I enjoyed Art classes and was encouraged by my teachers to continue on with Art. After Art school, I was drawn to teaching as a profession. I have worked at a number of independent schools in Melbourne since leaving university. 

As well as co-ordinating art full-time at Fintona you are also a practising artist. Tell us a bit about that. 

I really enjoy painting when I get the chance and throughout the years I have had a number of group and solo exhibitions - both locally and overseas. My last exhibition was well received and was personally successful. I like to work in oils but also like to explore other painting materials. I draw inspiration from a variety of sources including contemporary popular culture, music, film, books – pretty much anywhere. I also take a lot from art history as well as contemporary Australian art and artists.

As the new Art Co-ordinator what is your vision for art at Fintona?

First and foremost I would like the students to enjoy Art, and more importantly, to become aware of the visual art around them and how important it is in our world. Art is at the heart of what we do as individuals and collectively, as a society.  It teaches us about who we are and what we value, both on a personal level and in a cultural sense.  Furthermore, Art provides students with opportunities to develop problem solving skills in a creative way and it also strengthens their visual literacy. These things, in my opinion, are vital, particularly because of the rate of change we are experiencing in regard to technology, the environment, politics and vocational expectations.

In 2015, you and your students will be working in the new Art Precinct.  What are you looking forward to the most about working in this exciting new space?  

Further developing what we already do. The new art spaces will allow us to improve and strengthen our Art curriculum, as well as offer more vocational based applications of Art, particularly design and textiles (fashion). There is great enthusiasm among students and Staff and this will inspire some interesting ideas and produce even more outstanding work. 

Apart from painting in your spare time, what else do you like to do outside of school?

I really enjoy being with my family especially my  son. I also have a keen interest in photography as well as going to the footy (I barrack for Geelong), listening to music, and reading. I also like to travel and rate visiting Budapest and Berlin as two of my favourite travel experiences.

Brittany Creek
Junior Teacher

Brittany has been at Fintona since 2003 teaching in the Junior School. She is a very experienced teacher, having taught mainly Prep to Year 2 classes throughout her 16 year career.  This year, for the first time at Fintona, she is teaching Prep and loving it.

What have you found to be your most rewarding experience so far this year teaching Prep?

I have been hoping for 11 years to teach Prep, at Fintona and this year I finally got my chance. My passion is teaching Prep, so I would have to say the most rewarding experience is being able to do something that I love.  There is never a dull moment when teaching five year olds and they are always coming up with new ways to make me laugh. Watching the girls blossom this year and seeing how far they have come in such a short space of time
is very rewarding.

After 11 years at Fintona what do you still find exciting to teach? 

Teaching children to love learning and to always ask questions is still something that I find exciting. I know that I will never be able to teach them everything they need to know, but if I can teach them how to love learning then they will forever be able to find the answers to the questions that they ask.

What do you consider to be your special talents and passion in life apart from teaching, of course?  

When I was at school, I learnt five instruments and was the music captain in Year 12. It has been a long time since
I have been able to use this talent except if you include singing to my children to
get them to sleep!

If I think about my passion in life, I would have to say that it is being a mum to my two beautiful girls, Phoebe 7 and Eliza 5.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?

When I’m not thinking about school,  I love spending time with my family.  We are lucky enough to have parents with houses at the beach and on the farm, so my spare time is spent escaping Melbourne and going to Sorrento and Heathcote. They are totally different experiences. One we go to, to relax and catch up on the family happenings and the other is to completely return to nature and with it, all the jobs related to working on the farm. Feeding the alpacas and tending to the olive grove. All in all, a well rounded life I think!  

Cathy Devlyn
Maths Co-ordinator

Cathy finds it hard to believe that 2015 represents her 27th year of teaching; her third at Fintona where she is the Mathematics Co-ordinator. She is passionate about teaching maths and says that she fell in love with maths from an early age – it’s just one of those things that she gets. After leaving school, Cathy enrolled in Medicine but in her first year, soon realised that maths teaching was her true vocation. For Cathy, the good thing about teaching maths is that it is always changing and evolving - new courses, new technologies, new ways of thinking. She finds herself constantly learning and updating her knowledge to stay ahead of the game and this helps her to keep fresh.

In your career so far, you have been a Maths Co-ordinator for 16 years. Tell us about your previous work experience.

I was a long serving member of my past two schools, spending eight years at Tintern and then 16 years at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School. As a graduate teacher at Tintern, I was given remarkable opportunities; I oversaw the implementation of the Melbourne University Program for High Achieving Students in Mathematics (MUPHAS) and got to mentor some very talented young maths students from Tintern and surrounding schools. Being Mathematics Co-ordinator at PEGS for 13 years, I had the responsibility of managing a team of maths teachers while ensuring the educational needs of a large number of students were being met. These roles taught me the importance of nurturing and fostering a strong team spirit. With everyone enthusiastically working towards a common goal, you just can’t help but feel swept up with the adrenaline of it all, and inspired to do better and better. 

What do you find most satisfying about being a maths teacher?

The most satisfying part of being a maths teacher for me is when a student begins to ‘get it’; when they begin to see how things are connected and why something is so. Sometimes it can take a while. Sometimes you have
to be patient and just wait till the time is right, as they say nothing worth doing is easy, but when it happens
it’s magical. 

There is a significant number of girls in the Senior School at Fintona who enjoy maths and do very well at VCE level. Why do you think that is the case?

I think it is due in a large part to the importance the School places on the learning of mathematics. Fintona has solid programs in place to support and develop the learning needs of each student. A robust curriculum coupled with substantial and meaningful enrichment and enhancement activities ensure our girls develop broad based mathematical ideas. They are not narrow thinkers. They are encouraged to take a risk, to be creative and critical problem solvers and to persevere. 

You, along with Christa Ackermann, Science Co-ordinator, organised the inaugural STEM Week at Fintona in August. What do you think the students gained from the variety of activities and speakers?

Organising STEM week was great fun. There was a real energy within the science and maths faculty and working with Christa on this was pure delight; she has a true passion for all things scientific. The students (and staff) gained so much. 

We were able to hear and see first-hand how useful maths is in so many areas and careers. It opened the girls’ eyes to fields they had not realised were out there and ways in which their passion for maths could be utilised. 

What do you like to do when you’re not imparting your deep knowledge of Sierpinski triangles, algorithms and vector mathematics?

I love getting down to the beach. We have a family holiday home at Anglesea and my favourite times are spent in the surf with my boys (husband and two sons). For ‘my therapy for the soul’, l enjoy going to the ballet. I’ve been a subscription member of the Australian Ballet for the past eight years. It’s a great chance to catch up with friends and to appreciate a different world of movement, colour and form (without numbers).   

Simon Bourke

Simon joined the staff at Fintona as Sport Co-ordinator in 2015 and since then has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Sport and Physical Education team as well as the broader Fintona community. He teaches Physical Education to students from Years 5 to 12 as well as the Year 9 elective ‘Australia’s Health’ and Year 10 elective ‘Sport Science’.

What do you love about being the Sport Co-ordinator at Fintona?

I draw great energy from the relatively small community that is the Fintona students, parents
and staff. I find our School to be very people centred with great focus on the whole development of the girls.

I really like to witness the adrenalin and joy that sporting events bring to our students as they strive to challenge themselves whilst representing

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about collaborating with people who strive for personal and professional excellence. I gravitate towards people who have a willingness to improve and are broad minded about their approach to life. I have been lucky to travel to various places around the world and have actively tried to take the path ‘less travelled’. Through these experiences I have met fascinating people from whom I have learnt a great deal. I hope that I have been able to reciprocate some positivity of
my own along the way.

Where did you get your love of sport?

I was introduced to sport at a very young age and my family placed a high value on being involved in both individual and team sport. So, as a youngster, I was involved in Little Athletics, Soccer, Tennis and Football. I was encouraged to try as many sports as I wished and the only non-negotiable was that I had to learn how to swim. 

What is your favourite sport?

That’s a difficult question! I don’t have a particular favourite sport – rather, I really enjoy teaching and watching junior players and athletes at all levels. I am a long suffering Carlton supporter – so this has impacted my love of football in recent  times! However, this season I have begun coaching an U18 regional girls’ football team and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with these young women who have had much success over their junior careers.

What message do you want to give to your students about the relevance of sport?

I hope that our students really grasp the chance to make lasting memories with their friends whilst being engaged with sport. Success can be measured in different ways. For some, winning a trophy or medal is the ultimate prize. For all, being actively involved in your life with your friends should be seen as a worthy triumph.

Tell us about the Sport program at Fintona and the attitude of the girls you teach?

The Sport program at Fintona is diverse. There are many opportunities for girls to try their hand to develop different skills in various competitive and non-competitive sports. I am proud that the girls display positivity towards their team mates, enthusiasm for the game and commitment to representing Fintona. I am often approached by other Heads of Sport who remark on the high level of our girls’ sportsmanship. This embodies the attitudes inherent in a Fintona sportswoman.

How do you like to spend the weekends and term breaks?

I like to spend the holidays catching up on some sleep! Being out of the School and work routine is also relaxing. I like to catch up with friends along the surf coast where we (attempt!) to surf and from time to time I head interstate or overseas for a completely new adventure.

Cara Mearns

What do you find most satisfying about leading the Early Learning Centre?

Fintona Early Learning Centre is a very special place. Not just for the children who frequent the space everyday but also for the adults; teachers, parents and all who visit. It is a joy for me to lead the teaching team at Fintona ELC. I am lucky to be part of such a passionate and dedicated team of individuals who are committed to ensuring that each and every child not only learns and grows, but also enjoys each and every day they spend with us.

What has been a highlight of your time so far in the ELC?

I think that every school year brings many different things to feel both proud of and excited about. From our amazing annual collaborative community projects to the everyday achievements of individual children. A particular highlight for me was in 2013 when Fintona ELC was assessed under the Australian Children’s Education and Care National Quality Standard. Fintona ELC achieved the highest rating of ‘Exceeding the National Quality Standard’ in recognition of the quality of our ELC and the dedication of our educators. The achievement of this rating made me feel very proud and we look forward to maintaining that rating into the future. The re-development of our outdoor play-spaces over the last few years have also been an exciting achievement for mw. Part of this redevelopment has seen the creation of a new space, a ‘Sensory Garden’, which provides the children with an additional quiet, investigative space, to be explored with by all of the senses.

The ELC is a very beautiful and modern space. What are some of the ways students benefit from it?

The ELC space is both flexible and beautiful. The learning areas are designed to allow for maximum light and a sense of spaciousness and visibility. We endeavour to be responsive to our children and the ELC environment allows teachers to arrange and re-arrange spaces easily as the program develops and changes. We provide the children with many different types of materials for them to engage with, meaning the children are regularly able to make choices about the direction of their learning. Additionally, the outdoor learning environment is a natural space, filled with loose materials and opportunities for risk-taking and extended physical and social play.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching young girls and boys or running the ELC?

When I am not teaching in the ELC I enjoy travelling, spending time with my family and friends, and extending my cooking skills by trying something new in the kitchen. I am also very involved in many early childhood network groups, and advocating for the rights of young children, including with the Australian Reggio Emilia Information Exchange, of which I am the current Vice-Chairperson.