School leadership is all about heart

By Monica Fitzalan, 29 July 2022
Monica Fitzalan and students at St Patrick’s Primary School, Blacktown. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied.


Growing up on a beautiful farm in Bathurst, taught me to be positive, calm, grateful, committed to helping others, and always see the bright side of life. What I learned from my parents and from my own Catholic education, is that faith, hope and love are the ingredients to happiness and success.

This is my fourth year as a School Principal and I intend to follow this calling for many years to come. I am blessed to work with and lead the dedicated staff at St Patrick’s Primary Blacktown. Knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of students, creating a rewarding working life for staff and long-lasting learning experiences for students is my passion.

Each day I greet the staff and students as they arrive for school. Checking in with everyone is a highlight of my day – noticing who has a birthday or a broken arm really helps me to know what is going on in our community. Communication and building relationships are the foundation of my work. Being an active listener who is understanding of where people are coming from and the life experience they bring to school with them, always helps me to understand children more.

“Feel God in every gentle touch.

See God in every happy face.

Hear God in every caring word.

Receive God’s blessings every day of your life.” – Motivational words of wisdom

My favourite part of each day is seeing the learning that is happening in our learning spaces. Engaged, challenged students are what we are all about! Seeing the JOY in a child or a staff member’s face when you recognise a talent, achievement or something to celebrate is what inspires me each day. The opportunity to make life or conditions better for learning is what calls to me and helps me jump out of bed with a spring in my step. No day is ever the same and we always have lots to celebrate.

Seeing students graduate as outstanding young citizens who can make positive changes in the world is so rewarding. ‘Be the change’ is something that inspires me every day – we can make a big difference! The students I work with today will be our future doctors, scientists, teachers, parents, scriptwriters, OTs, nurses, and accountants. They may one day save your life!

Working in our Catholic community is an extension of my own personal faith and life, so I have the opportunity to enrich the lives of others.

I am blessed to have my own wonderful husband Matt, and three children, Georgia, Brianna and William, who support me, laugh with me, journey through the ‘everyday-ness’ with me and nourish my soul. Catholic education and our own parish, St Bernadette’s, Castle Hill, have been a wonderful blessing for our children too.

Watching passionate staff work side by side with their students is life-giving. The team brings out curiosity in their students and guides their learning through inquiry: I feel so proud of my fabulous staff. Seeing the light in staff and students’ eyes when you acknowledge their great work is the best feeling. No wonder I smile a lot!

Working with children and shaping their lives is a privilege and a pleasure. If teaching/school leadership calls to you, go for it! We need more wonderful teachers in our system who are committed to the Catholic faith and sharing it with others.

Monica Fitzalan is Principal of St Patrick’s Primary School, Blacktown.

This article was originally published in the 2022 Ordinary Time | Winter 2022 edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can pick up your copy of the magazine in parishes, schools and offices across the Diocese of Parramatta now or you can read the digital version here.


Read Daily
* indicates required