Trish Etchell: Our People
However, her dedication to education of the young has not dimmed in her move to Mansfield and the High Country
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.”
NEW HEAD: Trish Etchell has brought a wealth of experience to the role of principal of St Mary’s Primary School.