SANTA Maria College has announced a homegrown replacement for departing principal Ian Elder – long-serving deputy principal teaching and learning Jennifer Oaten.
Mrs Oaten has led a life closely intertwined with the College.
Prior to spending seven years in her current role, she attended Santa Maria as a boarder from Margaret River and later was married in the school’s chapel.
Her reflections on her time as a student provide a fascinating window into the past and just how much has changed since she first arrived as a shy country girl with a love of science ahead of Year 8.
“Science was taught by Mr Ryan and Ms Addison in very old laboratories,” she said.
“The girls today are so fortunate to be learning in the state-of-the-art science facilities we now have.
“The magnificent grounds and buildings of the College have also changed so much due to major building projects in the last 10 years.
“When I was a student the corridors and classrooms were dreary and the stairwells were exposed to the weather but now we have large, flexible, colour-filled learning spaces and corridors.”
Mrs Oaten said sport remained an important part of boarder life but that in her time Aussie Rules was not on offer as it is today.
“Other aspects of school that I remember fondly were the dancing lessons with Aquinas, walking to ‘The Mile’ and our bright-green summer uniform,” she said.
After completing her initial teaching degree at ECU, Mrs Oaten continued her pursuit of lifelong learning by completing a Master in Education at the University of Leeds.
She is currently studying for her Master in Religious Education at Notre Dame University, where she has also lectured aspiring teachers in both science and education units.
She said she was thankful for the time she had spent working alongside Mr Elder and the trust he had always placed in her.
“Ian believes in distributed leadership and developing the leadership potential of others and these opportunities have enabled me to be where I am today,” she said.
Mrs Oaten will take over from Mr Elder at the start of 2018 and said she intended to uphold the Sisters of Mercy’s values of compassion, justice and service, hospitality and excellence.
“I believe that education is about teaching students, not subjects, and that every student is an individual with great potential,” she said.
Promoting faith, personal excellence values and leadership were also emphasised.