NANCY McNally is realising a career dream as she prepares to open a high school in her home suburb, Alkimos next year.
Ms McNally is the foundation principal for the school being built by EMCO Building on the corner of Santorini Promenade and Hollington Boulevard which has a planning name of Butler north secondary college.
She has worked with the Education Department for 29 years, most recently at Mindarie Senior College and before that at Comet Bay College.
She started her foundation principal role six weeks ago and said it was exciting to establish a school.
The former social sciences teacher has experienced being part of a new school before as a foundation teacher with Clarkson Community High School when it opened in 1996.
“It’s been a career dream of mine to establish a school and set that vision and future direction,” she said.
So far she has established an advisory group, which includes principals from Alkimos, Alkimos Beach and John Butler primary schools as well as community members, and set up a Facebook page to communicate with the wider community.
“I’m seeking consultation of the naming of the school, what parents are hoping to see at the school, what do they feel makes a great school and what would they like to focus on,” she said.
“Hopefully we will have an official name for the school within the next few months.”
People have until April 1 to vote for the school name via Survey Monkey, with three choices given – Alkimos College, Alkimos Secondary College or Alkimos Community College.
Ms McNally said she would also be speaking to primary students at the partner schools, although the intake area would not be confirmed until June.
She will seek independent public school status for the local intake area school, which will have a specialist autism program.
“I will have a specialist learning program for high functioning autism spectrum disorder students,” she said.
“Because it’s a specialist learning area, I can accept out of area students who are eligible.”
Ms McNally expects to employ about 15 people for next year, with the associate principal and corporate services manager to start next term.
She will also appoint a school officer to help with enrolments and later in the year, an autism program leader.
Enrolments will open after the intake area has been confirmed but Ms McNally said she’d invite expressions of interest earlier.
The principal said she wanted the school to have a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects to engage students and help with their future job opportunities.
“As well as academic, it’s really important to focus on social and emotional wellbeing,” she said.
Ms McNally said community feedback so far had also emphasised the need for support with resilience, bullying and helping students achieve their personal best.
At Comet Bay College, she developed a resilience program that was included in the timetable.
“There was a focus on mindfulness as well and that had great outcomes,” she said.
“I can definitely see the increased need for a focus on student wellbeing.”
Ms McNally said she hoped the school would reflect the values and aspirations of the community.
She had her first site visit last month, and will be doing one every month to see progress as the double-storey campus takes shape.