28 March 2023
Community is everything to St Joseph’s School Murgon Principal Tracey Gerrard, who chose the Murgon life in pursuit of her dream position in a rural setting.
During Harmony Week 2023, the Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) school Principal shared her passion for engaging her students and community in school life.
“We are an example of culture in action,” she says.
“We love to nurture our multilingual students to speak and share their language at school.”
The leader reports that 66 percent of the school’s students are First Nations.
“Many of our students speak a mix of Wakka Wakka language at school, one commonly spoken in the Murgon area,” she says.
“We think it’s important our students know their local First Nations language so they can connect and serve our community now and into the future.”
In fact, the Principal says the school is in the process of introducing Wakka Wakka into its curriculum and classrooms.
“Our students will be the ones to continue to Close the Gap in our region, and we want to equip them with the right skills to do so,” she added.
Tracey says since starting at the school eight years ago, for the first year as Assistant Principal Religious Education, and seven as Principal she “fell in love with St Joseph’s and the students.”
“As soon as a role became available, I applied and I was soon on my way to Murgon from Nanango,” she added.
“Being a Principal is so rewarding because I feel part of something larger.
“There are so many opportunities for me to engage with our families and students outside of school and make strong and positive connections within our community.
“The most important part of my role is to connect, engage and earn the trust of the Murgon community.
“I have really worked hard to remove barriers, so our parent community and especially our Cherbourg parents, feel welcomed and comfortable on campus.
“Since our parent community has become more confident to enter our school and engage with our staff, our enrolments have soared.
“This has also meant greater student engagement and more learning.
“My parent community trust in me and believe I have the strength to lead this community.”
Tracey added there are so many benefits to leading a rural school.
“The school is small, so I know all our students their families and their needs,” she says.
“As a community, we have worked hard to learn about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture, and I feel blessed to be welcomed into their community.
“Working rurally has different challenges but it is extremely rewarding when I see my students achieve.
“For anyone considering working in a rural school, I would encourage them to take that opportunity as the rewards are amazing.
“The relationships with students, families, and staff are life-giving.”
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