Participating in the teaching of future generations is a privilege

Surname: Melissa Beggs

Work: Principal at St Monica’s Primary Richmond

Melissa Beggs, Headmistress of St Monica's Primary Richmond.

Melissa Beggs, Headmistress of St Monica’s Primary Richmond.

What does a typical working day look like for you?
School days are always changing. I usually start each day by greeting students and families at the front gate. I check in with staff, spend time in the classrooms, talk to parents and parishioners, and keep in touch with our pastor. I also work closely with our office staff to ensure the school has everything it needs.

What sparked your interest in this area?
This is my third year as Principal of St. Monica’s and I have been in the leadership for more than 20 years. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. As I grew as a teacher, I wanted to continue making a difference, which led to me applying for leadership positions and completing my Masters of Educational Leadership.

What do you like best about the job?
I love working with children. They always give me hope for a bright future for the world as they grow, change and embrace new ideas and speak and act passionately on issues that concern them. Participating in the teaching of future generations is such a privilege.

What was the most unexpected thing you had to do in your job?
Over the years there have been many things that my initial training did not cover. One of the most unexpected was having to verify that the baby brown snake spotted near the children’s bags hadn’t slithered into one before sending it home. Luckily that wasn’t the case!

What’s the worst thing you’ve had to do?
Unfortunately, I had to comfort students after losing a classmate in a car accident. The school becomes part of our extended family and when the community suffers, so do we. In these times our faith is our greatest strength and we pull together to support one another.


What challenges did you face during the pandemic?
The biggest challenge with online learning was communication. We had to ensure that the good bond between the students and their teachers was maintained and that the families were supported. Another challenge was to make the work at home engaging and to give feedback. Our teachers have worked incredibly hard during this time and positive feedback from our community has kept us going.

How transferrable are your skills?
I have continued to use and improve my skills in communication, project management, budgeting, site maintenance, people management and negotiation. The skills required are broad and varied and could be deployed in a number of different roles.

What skills and personal skills do people need in teaching?
You must be able to empathize, listen actively and have a desire to help others learn. This also requires patience, resilience and determination. Collaboration with colleagues is important, as is the desire not only to teach others, but also to continue learning yourself. A good sense of humor also helps, as working with children is complex, fun and always different. Participating in the teaching of future generations is a privilege

Brian Lowry

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