Principal’s life-changing trip

Lincoln BertelliSouth Western Times
Treendale Primary School principal Leonie Clelland.
Camera IconTreendale Primary School principal Leonie Clelland.

Visiting Harvard University for an invitation-only leadership course was a “life-changing” experience, according to Treendale Primary School principal Leonie Clelland.

Mrs Clelland will this week finish a three-month online learning course after travelling to the USA in July as part of a fellowship program funded by the Federal and State governments.

She was among 20 West Australian independent public school principals, and the only one from the South West, selected for this year’s program. Education Minister Peter Collier said earlier this year the travelling principals would provide “expertise in future reform and innovation across all public schools”.

Since returning, Mrs Clelland has been involved in an early childhood project that she could not reveal exact details about but would “crank up” early next year.

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“We are all working on a system-level project with a director as our mentor,” she said.

“My project is something that will be significant in providing clarity to school leaders in the early education space.” Mrs Clelland said the State’s public education system had received positive endorsements from their American counterparts during the visit.

“There is power in the recognition that WA public education is in a good place,” she said.

“The Americans were impressed and quite taken aback when we talked about the independent public school system and how much autonomy principals have.”

The online learning course has involved Mrs Clelland spending about eight hours per week watching lectures, reading and being involved in discussion groups with the other WA principals.

“It has been really powerful and insightful looking at change from an action-research perspective,” she said.

“There were some powerful topics about shaping and developing school culture and change.

“The challenge now is sustaining a positive culture and building on it as our school grows.”

Principals from Busselton, Margaret River and Manjimup have been selected for next year’s program.

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