Tr­ish Etchell: Our Peo­ple

How­ever, her ded­i­ca­tion to ed­u­ca­tion of the young has not dimmed in her move to Mans­field and the High Coun­try

Mansfield Courier - - FRONT PAGE - Weekly pro­file on our peo­ple by Courier jour­nal­ist Peter Hunt [email protected] ne­me­

FOR some­one who has taught most of their life in the big city of Mel­bourne, a move to Mans­field could be an un­nerv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

How­ever, for new St Mary’s prin­ci­pal, Tr­ish Etchell, it is like com­ing home.

Tr­ish was born in 1954 and lived at Chelsea.

“It was not long from be­ing a hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, so it was not subur­bia yet,” she said.

“I went to Chelsea State School for my pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion be­fore Bonbeach High School.

“At school I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”

Af­ter com­plet­ing her HSC, Tr­ish at first headed into the role of an in­sur­ance of­fi­cer for a num­ber of years.

“I worked till I mar­ried and had chil­dren,” she said.

“When Paul, Matt, Jenny and Patty were old enough, I de­cided to study teach­ing.

“I at­tended the Aus­tralian Catholic Univer­sity for four years com­plet­ing a diploma and bach­e­lor of teach­ing.”

Since that time, Tr­ish has com­pleted post­grad­u­ate stud­ies in Stu­dent Well­be­ing and Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion.

“My first school was Our Lady of As­sump­tion at Chel­tenham,” she ex­plained.

“My first class was grade 1/2 with 33 stu­dents that soon went up to 35.

“In the five years I was there I also man­aged school tech­nol­ogy.”

Dur­ing 1994/95, she was one of a team that worked on the first web page for Catholic Ed­u­ca­tion.

“The school was a l eader i n in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy,” she added.

“Af­ter school we ran cour­ses for teach­ers and par­ents on how to use com­put­ers.”

Tr­ish moved on to St Louis de Mon­forte pri­mary at Aspendale for 12 months be­fore St Fran­cis Xavier pri­mary school for three years.

“There I was the RE co­or­di­na­tor, the ICT co­or­di­na­tor and a grade 5/6 class­room teacher,” she out­lined.

“The more ma­ture pri­mary stu­dents al­low you to have con­ver­sa­tions on val­ues and mo­rals.

“You can re­late the ev­ery­day com­mu­nity back to their learn­ing.

“It is a great age to de­velop so­cial jus­tice.”

In 2003, hav­ing just com­pleted her post grad in Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion, Tr­ish went to St Agnes at Highett in the role of spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion and stu­dent well­be­ing.

“In 2004 I went to Lar­me­nier School,” Tr­ish noted.

“Lar­me­nier re­sponds to the needs of Catholic pri­mary schools in the Arch­dio­cese of Mel­bourne, by pro­vid­ing an ed­u­ca­tional set­ting for stu­dents, who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing so­cial, emo­tional and be­havioural dif­fi­cul­ties.

“I was there till 2009 teach­ing var­ied sub­jects such as science, art and cook­ing as well as be­com­ing deputy prin­ci­pal.”

Ac­cord­ing to Tr­ish it was both ‘chal­leng­ing and re­ward­ing’.

“I learnt so much, walk­ing with peo­ple on their jour­neys,” she said.

“If you work as a team you can achieve any­thing.

“It de­vel­oped my peo­ple skills and set me up for fu­ture roles.”

One of those fu­ture roles was as deputy prin­ci­pal, stu­dent well­be­ing and spe­cial needs at St John’s, Frankston East.

“I was there for some six and a half years with plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to be act­ing prin­ci­pal,” Tr­ish said.

“With be­ing a deputy prin­ci­pal you are con­cen­trat­ing on the ev­ery­day things.

“As a prin­ci­pal you have to lift your gaze to more vi­sion­ary things.”

Her time at St John’s ended with her move to Mans­field, be­gin­ning at St Mary’s in term three.

“Mans­field feels like home, like those early days at Chelsea, so the tran­si­tion has been very smooth,” Tr­ish ac­knowl­edged.

“Both pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally Mans­field ticked all the boxes.

“Al­ready I have no­ticed the way peo­ple buy into this com­mu­nity.”

The move to St Mary’s has also been easy.

“The staff here are a great group of teach­ers,” Tr­ish noted.

“I had my first school coun­cil meet­ing the other day.

“Like the staff the par­ents are very en­gaged - their en­thu­si­asm and pas­sion can’t help but gain suc­cess.”

Out of work Tr­ish has spent a lot of time volunteeri­ng with Life Sav­ing Vic­to­ria.

“I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting in­volved in other com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties,” she ex­plained.

“In the mean­time I am en­joy­ing the free­dom of walk­ing my dogs, a Labradoo­dle and a Cocker Spaniel/ Labrador cross.

“Also my kids now have a hub for vis­it­ing, so Matt and Meg, Jen and Nate and grand­son Phoenix, Paul and Patty will be no strangers to the High Coun­try.

“As for me I will stay in Mans­field and re­tire here.”

PHOTO: Peter Hunt

NEW HEAD: Tr­ish Etchell has brought a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence to the role of prin­ci­pal of St Mary’s Pri­mary School.

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