December 6, 2023

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Principal's Message


Notices from the Deputy Principal

Meet Me Where I'm At

Peninsula Student Day Experience

Introducing Ms Ngaire Brown

Meet Mr David Fournier

Say Hello to Ms Kate Macpherson

Hi Ms Olivia Zouev

Important Dates

Principal's Message

The First Sunday of Advent

The Gospel reading from Mark this past weekend, reminds us to “stay awake”. For what we ask? In this Advent time of preparation and waiting, we can get caught up in the busyness of preparing for the celebration of Christmas – trees, decorations, gifts, and so on. How do we go about preparing ourselves, our interior renovations, if you like? How ready are our hearts and minds to receive Christ in our lives, and do we know what we are looking out for and staying awake for? “If he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep” is what Jesus teaches in this passage. Veronica Lawson, a Sister of Mercy, reflects the following:

Advent is about recognising our own tendency to be less than vigilant and even to turn away when our presence is most needed. It is about allowing the grace of God to take hold in our hearts, keeping us watchful for the sake of those on the edge and for the sake of a regenerated Earth. Most of us would agree that our Earth communities are in crisis. We need to be alert to causes as well as to consequences so that the cycles of violence might eventually be broken. Our gospel asks no less of us.

With Gratitude

Our final IONA of the year, and we have so much to celebrate as a College community. I would like to acknowledge the way our students have thrown themselves into the Transition Program over the last two weeks – attentive, engaged, hard-working, eager and keen – are the words teachers have used over and over. Thank you to our amazing teachers who have developed an engaging and rigorous learning program as we tie up 2023.

I would also like to acknowledge all of the students who committed themselves to the co-curricular program this year – the vibrancy of this College community doesn’t happen by chance. It happens when people commit – when we commit to activities that are defining of who we are such as Laudato Si Week and Child Protection Week, when we commit to each other through our time and energy to rehearsals, training, meetings, and when we commit to showing leadership, through formal and informal roles, that help make this community a better place. In particular, this semester there have been a great number of students who have stood out as upstanders – they have called out poor behaviour, and in doing so, have stood up for the vulnerable, and showed what it means to be truth in action – one of our key values this year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wishing all our students and their families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ahead. May this joyous season bring peace, love and hope into your lives and your homes. I look forward to seeing you all in 2024.


Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s new year and is a season of waiting and preparation. In fact, the season of Advent focuses on Christ’s threefold coming—past, present and future. 

We await and prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. 

We hope and give thanks for Christ’s presence in us and in the Word and sacraments. 

We look to the future, waiting for Christ to come again. 

In the coming four weeks, we prepare with mounting expectation for the coming of Christ in a spirit of waiting, conversion and hope. 

(Caritas Australia)

Heavenly Father,

As we draw near to the end of this year, we gather in prayerful gratitude for the journey we’ve shared as a community. We are humbled by the legacy of Mary Aikenhead and the Sisters of Charity, whose dedication to serving the poor continues to guide and inspire us.

As we enter the season of Advent, a time of anticipation and preparation, we open our hearts to the coming of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Like the Sisters who lived by the values of Truth and Love, may we, too, embrace these virtues in our lives.

Grant us the grace to kindle the light of hope, peace, joy, and love in our hearts, just as the Advent wreath candles symbolise. May these virtues shine brightly in our actions and interactions with others.

In this time of reflection and waiting, help us to understand the true meaning of Christmas – the celebration of Your unconditional love for us through the birth of Jesus.

We extend our prayers for a Merry Christmas to all in our community. May this festive season be filled with the warmth of family, the joy of shared moments, and the spirit of giving.

Keep us safe during these holidays and bless us with peace and happiness.


Notices from the Deputy Principal

It was wonderful to acknowledge and congratulate the more than 121 students for excellence in their efforts within the Engage, Connect and Learn pillars of our Learning, Teaching, Wellbeing Framework.
Thank you, also, to the College Ambassadors who so ably supported me during rehearsal and on the night:
Sophia M, Tiana C, Isabell , Alessia H and Charlotte M
Congratulations to the following students who have accepted the responsibility of this student leadership role:
Bruton: Carla P and Amelia U
Cahill: Harper G, Ashlee T, Tiana C and Shivya J
Cater: Zee E
Cunningham: Scarlett D and Alannah V
de Lacy: Lily M
O’Brien: Elizabeth P, Gemma D, Maddison D, Alessia H, Ally K, Ella M and Siena S
Williams: Liliana R, Sarah T and Alyssa D
These students will be working to support our incoming 2024 students during Orientation on 7 December as well as at the start of the year. They will be required to participate in a Training Day on Monday 27 November.
Students will be presented with the leadership badges at the end of term Assembly on Wednesday 5 December. Parents, wishing to attend our final assembly, may RSVP via the link on the parent calendar in SEQTA Engage.
On behalf of the College, I take this opportunity to thank firstly, our dedicated, regular attendees of the PEC and to also thank any other parents who participated in the meetings or the PEC run-events.
Thank you to:
Co-Presidents: Tracey Cotroneo and Karen Bell (also Treasurer)
Secretary: Miralem Mehmedbogevic
Maria Vella, Rachele Ciavarella, Jennifer Polakovic and Jayne Carfi
Every parent in our community is a member of the PEC and we welcome your involvement. Here are the PEC meeting dates and events planned for 2024:
  • 13 February
  • Friday 23 February – Year 7 Meet & Greet
  • 12 March
  • 23 April
  • 14 May
  • Tuesday 21 May – Male Mentor Night
  • 16 July
  • Saturday 31 August – Trivia Night
  • 20 August
  • 17 September
  • 15 October
  • Friday 15 November – Yr 7 Parents’ Welcome
  • 19 November
The PEC meetings will either be online or blended (that is, it will be optional to attend the meeting at the College face to face or be online).
If you wish to contact the PEC, the email address is

Congratulations to our PEC Christmas Giveaway winners:

Ms Belinda Anderson (Student – Darci)

Ms Megan Cashman (Student – Chelsea)

Ms Danielle Cobb (Student – Sienna)

Mr Damian Rawlings (Student – Abigail)

Ms Anastasia Truccolo (Student – Melissa)

Prizes can be collected from the College office tomorrow, Thursday 7 December

A message from our Co-Presidents:

“Dear St. Columba’s College Parents,

Wishing you all a joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As we bid farewell to this incredible year, we’re deeply grateful for your continuous support and involvement.

May the upcoming year be filled with joy, success, and countless memorable moments with your loved ones.

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead. We look forward to seeing you at our events throughout the year.

Kind regards

The Parent Engagement Committee”

I also wish to take this opportunity to thank, on the College’s behalf, the alumnae who support us to keep the connections with former students alive. These connections are so important to us.
We thank the following committee members for their time and energy throughout this year:
• Mrs Ellen Kennedy, President
• Ms Rosemary Caruso
• Ms Siobhan Browne
• Ms Helen Kavanagh
• Ms Gabrielle McMahon
• Ms Ashlee Bye
• Ms Joan Dillon – Alumnae Coordinator
Alumnae Committee President, Ellen K at
the Celebration of Excellence Evening presenting
The Spirit of Alumnae Award to Yr 7 student,
C and Yr 11 student, Taylor N
We welcome new alumnae to this group. If you would like to participate, please reach out via email to

Meet Me Where I'm At

The 2023 St Columba’s College Online Exhibition of Art, Design and Media can be viewed at
Congratulations to the following students who were awarded the People’s Choice Awards:

Imogen R Year 7 OBNJ2 Junior (7 & 8)

Sabrina P Year 10 OBNS2 Intermediate (9 & 10)

Mia M Year 11 CTRS1 Senior (11 & 12)

Peninsula Student Day Experience

On the 23rd of November, We were invited to an event held by the Monash University in Frankston. Inclusive for Year 11 and Year 12 students.

During our time there we learnt about what the Monash University in Frankston is all about and the different opportunities that the university provides. We participated in a number of different activities that relate to topics such as marketing and health related activities. We got the opportunity to ride one of their bikes while monitoring our heart rate and then working together to form conclusions based on those results. We also got to collaborate with the Toorak College in the Business sector talking all things Marketing. This interested us as we got the inside scoop of what attracts consumers to buy their products, the teacher even pointing out every girl’s Frank Green water bottles (including Isabell’s). To conclude our session we went on a tour around the campus visiting all classrooms, libraries, cafeterias and even visited the dorms to amuse ourselves before the day ended! Overall, it was an amazing educational experience about a day in the life of a Monash University student studying Business, Health and Physical Education or Nursing! 

If this article interests you… visit the Monash University website and look out for more information about Open Days and more!

Introducing Ms Ngaire Brown

Recently, we interviewed Ms Ngaire Brown about her experience of being a teacher librarian. Ms Brown joined St Columba’s College at the start of the 2023 school year. She has worked as a teacher librarian for twenty years and is now the Head of  Library at St Columba’s. Ms Brown is a dedicated person and always wants to create a positive, calm reading environment for all students. 

What inspired you to become a teacher? 

Helping students and helping other people. My mum was a nurse but I don’t like blood and things like that.

How long have you worked in education?

Twenty years.

When did you make the transition from classroom teaching to a librarian?

This year is the first time that I’ve worked mostly in the library. I’ve always done classroom teacher as part of my role but I was a librarian before I became a teacher.

What led you to your role at the college?

I was looking for a change and I wanted to be in a different environment. I live in Essendon, as our so I thought that it might be nice to live and work in the same suburb. 

Why do you enjoy working at St Columba’s College?

The staff and students. The students are really friendly and welcoming, and I’m getting to know them as the year progresses. They make me laugh! And the staff are all really friendly and helpful. Moving to St Columba’s was the right decision to make. 

What are the challenges of being a librarian in a secondary school?

The students eating! (Ms Brown laughs). Students that don’t engage in reading, trying to keep up with the trends in reading and making sure we’ve got the latest of everything for students.

Do you think that society has a negative mindset about teachers?

I don’t think they have a negative mindset but people really don’t understand what we do. There is data that suggests that in a day a teacher can make more impactful decisions than someone performing brain surgery. I don’t think people understand the job, particularly my job. A lot of my friends think I sit and read books all day, but I don’t. People struggle to comprehend what it’s like to be in charge of 27 students in a classroom who’ve all got different needs. In my Year 9 homegroup, everyone is different. Some students cope with the environment being really loud and noisy but there are other students that just want the room to be quiet. I don’t think they think we’re lazy or anything like that, I just don’t think they understand the demands and challenges of the job. 

Meet Mr David Fournier

In light of the recent media regarding teachers portrayed as overworked, biased and miserable ‘empty headed’ humans, we wanted to show how teachers are the real heroes and not the selfish villains they are portrayed to be on the internet.

In response to articles like, “no wonder no one wants to be a teacher” and “teacher bashing is the norm” the self dubbed friendly, ambivert, human being Mr David Fournier, stated that this comment is a negative outlook on how teachers are portrayed and that if “you have to have a passion for it, do it.” 

Mr Fournier has spent most of his life teaching, although he wasn’t always an English teacher.   Mr. Fournier was offered his first teaching job by Monash University. After finishing his Honours Degree in French he taught and coordinated the beginners to intermediate levels.  As the years flew by Mr. Fournier moved to France, where he applied to become a teacher and trained over in Europe. Fournier then taught Business, English as well as high-school English once back in Australia. 

Not only has Mr. Fournier worked countless years as a teacher at all different levels, he was also part of the recruitment board of the French Education System. Although his iconic years were spent teaching in various nations and locations,  Mr. Fournier had his humble beginnings starting off as a hairdresser! 

When Mr. Fournier first began teaching, he wasn’t always open to students, but he soon ‘fell into things’ and now does this for the young people he works with. He asserts that he does it for the future generations as well as the human element. ‘The smile on a student’s face that they have understood, and the conversations that [he] has with them,’ Mr. Fournier explains, makes the teaching environment worthwhile, rewarding and meaningful. When Fournier comes face to face with a difficult class, Mr. Fournier’s method is to approach the class as individuals. 

David Fournier describes himself as a car and language nerd! In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and learning new things. This demonstrates how he is a genuine person who describes himself as Human. To conclude, teachers have been portrayed as villains in the recent media when in reality they are kind and compassionate people doing everything they can to set up youth for the future. 

Say Hello to Ms Kate Macpherson

In school communities, there has been feedback put to the media, implying that teachers are harshly criticised, take on a lot of blame and are negatively represented. Throughout the Year Nine Journalism classes, we have interviewed and observed teachers’ lives in the lead-up to their career and have asked some questions defining their insight into the negative images portrayed in the media. In an interview with De Lacy house leader, Ms Kate McPherson gave an insight on her take on leadership and perspective on this subject.

What are your interests? 

I love photography, I love the beach and I love music and live gigs.

What university did you go to? 

I did my initial teaching degree at the ACU, it was a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Teaching. I went to the University of Melbourne for a postgraduate certificate and then I was back at ACU for a Master of Leadership.

What time do you start and end your day?

I’m here by 7:30 in the morning and then I leave here anywhere from 4:30 to 6pm.

What inspired you to start teaching? 

I come from a family of teachers on mum’s side. So it’s in the blood, but I have an innate drive that I need to help. That ‘aha’ moment, that light bulb moment, that I’ve had an impact on someone’s life today that’s been positive.

What bothers you most as a teacher?

It’s really frustrating when I see students in a classroom that really want to be there and who are trying really really hard and then you have those students who just don’t care. Other things that bother me is the government giving directions from people who are not teachers.

What has kept you going in the teaching industry?

You guys. It’s you guys straight away. I couldn’t do it if I still didn’t have a passion for still wanting to be the best version of myself for you.

Do you agree with the negative portrayals of teachers in the media?

No. I definitely don’t. There are some who are but it’s a very small minority compared to the vast majority who work hard to try and deliver great things for students.

What’s the hardest part of being a teacher?

When everything is on top of you, keep going and push through when everything’s hard, even in personal life. Also keeping the balance and having a life, because you forget there is a life outside.

According to your teaching qualifications, do you believe your pay is fair?

I think teachers are paid alright. I don’t have a problem with the pay but it’s the conditions and the work that we do. I think society also tries to put all the issues on teachers to fix.

From this interview with Ms McPherson, it makes one think that the minority of teachers are represented in the media but the majority have a strong passion for their job. It also goes to show Ms McPherson is a genuine teacher who puts 110% into everything she does.

Hi Ms Olivia Zouev

The current public perception of teachers is negative, with stories circulating the media of historic teachers’ abuse, unfair bias and protests for higher pay. Unfortunately, the actions of some teachers have shaped the minds of students and parents alike to believe that most teachers are either too strict, abusive or biased. This has caused many of the good stories about teachers to be often overshadowed. St Columba’s College is trying to change that negative narrative around our educators by interviewing Ms Olivia Zouev, an Art teacher at St Columba’s College. This interview will explore her experiences in education, what it was like to graduate in the pandemic, as well as her inspirations and motivations. 

Are you able to pursue your hobbies with your position?

I can, absolutely. When I have some free time I like to do artsy kinds of things. I like to collage, I like to go to op shops and just buy and recycle old magazines and books and kind of put together my own kinds of composition. If I want to practise something before teaching it to my class I’ll absolutely do that. In the holidays, I find that’s when I have the most time to pursue my own art, or if I have a spare moment during the school term, of course. But, it is hard to find that time. 

What motivated you to become a teacher?

I came from a family of teachers, my dad teaches mechanical engineering at RMIT and my mum was a teacher librarian. But also, my mum is quite a creative individual and I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something involving art. 

My parents also influenced me to pursue a career in teaching because I saw how much it inspired my parents and for them to pass on what they are passionate about to the future generations is what inspired me. To be able to do that as a teacher now is a rewarding experience. 

Are you ever discriminated against because of your age in your job?

I’m really lucky to be a part of a community where you feel included and a member of something bigger. Especially with being new, it’s quite a challenge in itself trying to get to know everyone and find your way in your school. But I don’t feel like I got discriminated against because of my age. However, I know other teachers my age have been judged depending on their school and how they are treated. But I’m really lucky in that I haven’t experienced that here. 

Can you tell us about your experience as a new teacher?

It was definitely a challenge because I graduated in the midst of the pandemic. For my last placement, I was partially onsite and partially remote, which made it hard for me to engage with students in a remote format and was a challenge that no one was prepared for. With me being a student teacher, the kids didn’t know me or see me properly. It just wasn’t the same as a traditional classroom. 

Describe your educational journey so far. 

You never stop learning. Even this far into my career, I’m always finding ways to build that professional development. When I was studying in uni, I went to ACU. I studied a Bachelor of Teaching/ Bachelor of Arts that focused on Visual Arts. That took four and a half years, but I was supposed to graduate in 2019. 

However there were some challenges including needing to pass a test before I could be a teacher where there was literacy and numeracy involved. But you have to get into the top thirty percent of the adult population in regards to numeracy and literacy skills. The numeracy one was a bit of a challenge for me, but I managed to pass it eventually.

Finding a job was difficult in the beginning because there weren’t a lot going around and also the pandemic didn’t help. 

When I did finally land a position, we’ve had so many opportunities here and at my old school, to build on that professional development. Whether that be through first aid or learning how to communicate and collaborate in a team, I find that I am always learning. 

What are your thoughts on the teacher shortages and the state school teachers protests?

The teacher shortages are definitely a big issue, not just in Victoria but in Australia as a whole. I think that’s due to the conditions that teachers have to work in sometimes, which includes a lot of outside hours work, challenging behaviours and parental pressure. It’s definitely such a big issue. I don’t know enough about the protests to form an opinion. But at the same time, I think it’s great that we get a chance to protest about the treatment and conditions that we have to endure.

Important Dates

Thursday 7 December – Year 7 2024 Orientation Day

Wednesday 13 December – Teachers’ last day of 2023

Wednesday 20 December – College office closes at 1pm

Thursday 18 January 2024 – College office reopens

Monday 29 January 2024 – Teachers commence

Thursday 1 February – Year 7s and 12s commence

Friday 2 February – All students commence