While St Stephen’s Catholic College in Mareeba is just 13 years old, its academic achievements under the careful guidance of respected principal Ida Pinese are impressive.
Mrs Pinese – a finalist in the Queensland College of Teachers’ Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award – sets high expectations of her staff and 550-plus students “to perform at their very best”. And it has paid off.
“All of our Year 12 students last year finished with their Queensland Certificate of Education,” Mrs Pinese explained, “and we were the second-highest Catholic high school in the state, with 40.48 per cent of graduating students achieving OP1-5.”
Mrs Pinese, who began teaching in 1975, worked in various state high schools before becoming the first deputy principal of St Stephen's in 2007. Over the next six years, Mrs Pinese was instrumental in building the small rural school’s curriculum as it grew from its initial enrolment of 40 students.
“I knew we’d have to be a school for all seasons,” Mrs Pinese said, “Academic and vocational outcomes are just as important in a rural area, so we’re trying hard to punch above our weight.”
Taking on the role of principal in 2013, Mrs Pinese said her most important role as the school’s leader had been to ensure that a culture of excellence was formed and that this culture was maintained as the school grew and new staff arrived.
“Our school has always been about family and community,” she explained, “and that was easy when there were just 40 students – the challenge has been maintaining that as we grew over the years.”
Her Catholic Education peers, Dr Sally Towns and Simon Vaughan, praised Mrs Pinese as a “leader of excellence” who maintains her teaching currency while mentoring new and beginning teachers, ensuring quality teaching and learning outcomes for St Stephen’s students.
“Mrs Pinese has established a culture of positive accountability where constructive feedback between colleagues is a part of the everyday work of people and where failure to deliver agreed outcomes is unacceptable,” they wrote in their nomination for the award.
“I’m very honoured to be a finalist but I know that, all over Queensland, there are other leaders who, every day, try their hardest to do their best,” Mrs Pinese said.
Congratulations Mrs Pinese on being named a finalist.