New St Oliver’s Primary Principal Pascale Joseph has enjoyed getting to know staff and some students through the lockdown.
While eagerly awaiting the day when school returns to ‘normal’, new St Oliver’s Primary Harris Park Principal Pascale Joseph has been busy finding the positives in starting a new job during a major COVID-19 lockdown, developing strong connections with staff and the limited number of students at school for supervision.
Pascale arrived at St Oliver’s with more than 20 years of experience serving school communities in the Diocese of Parramatta, most recently as Assistant Principal at Bethany Catholic Primary Glenmore Park.
“Starting in my new role in the middle of the lockdown has had its pros and cons,” said Pascale. “I’ve not yet seen how the school operates at full capacity with all students and staff onsite, which is surreal. What’s a school without the kids? I’m so looking forward to the day when the school is bustling with students and staff again.”
“The benefits of starting at this time is that I’ve gotten to know staff and students in small increments,” she added. “It has allowed me to get to know them and chat to them about their learning and generally get to know them better. In respect to the staff, it’s been lovely to have that opportunity to start building relationships and get to know the team better, not just as colleagues but people with stories and lives beyond the school setting.”
At Bethany Catholic Primary, alongside Principal Sergio Rosato, Pascale’s leadership was crucial in helping the school community navigate the 2020 lockdown, an experience that is now serving her well at St Oliver’s.
“The experience of 2020 has certainly helped me know what works and what doesn’t work as we look to contend with this ongoing lockdown,” Pascale said. “The focus on family is key. Research shows that children have better academic, social, and emotional outcomes when their parents are engaged in their learning, especially in the home. Supporting families, working as a team – it’s so important.”
Pascale has been incredibly grateful for the warm welcome she has received from the St Oliver’s community and wonderful support from staff.
“So much about this community speaks to me, in particular the story of the migrant family moving to Australia for a better opportunity,” Pascale said. “I’ve been surrounded by incredible support both within the school and from fellow colleagues within the Diocese. Just knowing that there is support at hand has been comforting. You cannot do this alone and you are not meant to. Draw on the wisdom of the collective!”
Bethany Principal Sergio Rosato reiterated that Pascale’s dedication to community, family and teamwork is a great strength.
“Pascale’s genuine devotion to community has always been predicated on fostering respectful relationships with each person and always imbued with a sense of pastoral care,” Sergio said. “She promotes growth and discernment in others and is always inspired by Christ’s way. Her childhood, steeped in the experience of being an immigrant, remains a guiding inspiration to her daily work as well as being a constant source of pride and gratitude in the sacrifice made by her parents.”
“One of the countless things I observed from working alongside Pascale is her determination to always improve,” he added. “She has a continuous desire to make learning in all its forms really count. She is never content to rest on her laurels but is always striving to find new ways to meet each challenge and works exceedingly hard to enable this to happen for the good of the children.”
“What do I hope to bring to the St Oliver’s Community?” Pascale said. “Continual improvement and progress. I’m looking to learn from the community and in working alongside them, have them learn from me. In my opinion it’s about learning from the past and the present and doing better in the future.”
While yet to meet her entire school community in person, Pascale has maintained good communication with parents, staff and students and has been impressed by everyone’s perseverance through the lockdown.
“I have been fortunate enough to join various zoom sessions with the students and although my introduction has been virtual, it has been an absolute joy to take part in these sessions and to observe the children’s interactions with their peers,” she said. “The children and staff have made me feel welcomed and I am blessed to have been immersed already in some of the Mercy values of our school – hospitality, service and compassion. These values, which were also modelled to us by our greatest teacher Jesus, set our community apart from others.”
With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.