by Angela Norval
For Madonna Davitt, as she walks out of the gates of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School Bundaberg for the last time on December 11, it will be the end of an era that started with her first teaching position with grade one in Mackay in 1979.
Considering her extensive and very reputable career, it is surprising that teaching wasn’t Madonna’s first choice, she had initially looked at a nursing career, but was lucky to then receive a teaching scholarship.
Madonna said her elder sister was a teacher and had spoken positively about her career.
“I also remembered many teachers I had, had in my primary and secondary schooling who I admired and respected and I wanted to have the same positive impact on children as they had on me,” she said.
“When it comes to being in education, this year has certainly tested us in so many ways, but it has also brought out the best in us.
“I am actually very glad that I was in a leadership position during COVID as I did enjoy the challenge more than I enjoyed the frustrations.”
Becoming a principal was a step that took Madonna to another level, causing her to look at a bigger picture and to really work out what was most important.
She has seen how technology and empirical educational research has both had a great impact on education.
Technology has allowed teachers to explore and implement strategies that engage the children more in their learning and in the world.
Madonna highlights that in her position at the centre of everything she has done, planned or decided upon is the children.
“When you place the children at the centre of every decision that is made in the school, it becomes a much easier decision.
“Children have a much greater knowledge basis than they have ever had.
“They are more literate, numerate and adaptive because of the world they now live in and the future world they will live in.
“The amount of excellent educational research that we now have ready access to has provided us with a better understanding of how children learn, how to interpret data to better inform our teaching and impacts on children’s learning be they environmental, cultural, social/emotional.
“Although upon my retirement, my hope is that every child knows that they are loved and respected for who they are.
“My hope is that they have a love of learning that they will continue to pursue.
“My hope is that through knowledge and love (our school motto) they know that they can be valuable contributors to their community.”
Asked what she will miss the most about being a principal when she retires, Madonna said there were many things she would miss.
“Definitely working with a group of dedicated teachers and support staff who go beyond what is asked of them for the sake of their students and the school, the relationships I have established with so many parents over the years, the students who add so much purpose and joy and sometimes challenge to my day, the students spontaneity and uncomplicated way of looking at life.
“I want to offer my sincere and humble thanks to St Mary’s community.
“It has been a privilege to have been part of such a special community that embraced me and through the years taught me so much.
“I have really enjoyed being a part of Catholic Education and I will take many special memories and stories that have nurtured and enriched my life.”
Looking forward Madonna will be happy not to bring work home a night or to do on the weekends.
She is excited for a few sleep ins, the chance to visit her children who live in Darwin and western Queensland, travel a little and sit on the deck and enjoy a good cup of tea uninterrupted.