For more than a decade, Dr Catherine Day OAM has been known as one of the most innovative education leaders in Queensland.
As the Townsville Catholic Education (TCE) Executive Director Catherine (Cathy), with the support of others, led the introduction of a world-first Christian meditation program in schools, which saw every student in every class in the diocese practise the skill.
She is now a world leader in the area and is called on internationally to present at conferences about the strategy and its benefits.
Cathy, with the help of her colleagues, also introduced the school arts festival ‘Mulkadee’, was named the Townsville Corporate Business Woman of the Year in 2002, and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2003 to study educational strategies and polices which resulted in increased educational outcomes for low socio-economic students in remote and rural areas of Canada.
The Tropical Brain and Mind Research Foundation Board Chair, who started teaching in Mount Isa in 1976 and only retired from her position as TCE Executive Director this year, says there is nothing greater than education.
“Education is the absolute foundation of our society,” Cathy says.
“As adults and trained educators, we have the privilege and the responsibility to help children and young people find their talents,” she says.
“It is our job to lead them, it is our job to encourage them, and it is our job to recognise in them that they are contributing already to the fabric of our society and so, education to me – it is the foundation of our society and our community.
“There is nothing greater than it as far as I am concerned.”
Cathy says leading TCE was the pinnacle of her professional career.
“During that time I worked with extraordinary people,” Cathy says.
“My greatest joy was seeing the great work that was going on in our schools – our rural and remote schools and our big Townsville schools – all very much united across a very diverse and vast geographic distance, but also very closely linked. They are very strong community schools and we have great leadership from our principals,” she says.
Cathy taught for 24 years and was the principal of two large schools – Holy Spirit Catholic School and Ryan Catholic College – before she joined TCE as its Assistant Director of School Services. She was made the Executive Director of TCE in 2006.
Cathy, who is also an Adjunct Professor at James Cook University, says she is humbled to receive the Order of Australia Medal and thankful to those who nominated her.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful career,” she says.
“I am very blessed and pleased that I had the opportunity and the privilege of leading Catholic Education in this diocese.”