Strong communication, regular connection

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Kylie Power, deputy principal of Iona College Geelong, Charlemont16 December 2021

Kylie Power is deputy principal of Iona College Geelong, Charlemont, which opened in 2020 and now has Year 7 and 8 students, growing towards Year 12 each year. Her role is a broad one with a strong focus on wellbeing, as she has taken a lead role guiding her school community safely through the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the general approach to student wellbeing at the college?

At Iona College, we have staff who are passionate about student wellbeing and understand that wellbeing is everybody’s responsibility. It is not a standalone curriculum, but an embedded whole-school commitment to the promotion of the wellbeing of staff, students and the wider Iona community.

The curriculum is a vital part of what we offer in the wellbeing space, but only a small part of what we do to support students at Iona. We aim to embed wellbeing into our culture and into all learning domains. We aim to enhance academic improvement and want our students to be ready to change the world!

How have families responded to remote learning?

Our families have been very supportive during the pandemic and remote learning. Staff remained calm despite so many new demands, and as a result the students and parents remained calm too.

We pride ourselves on working in partnership with our parents and, by keeping our regular communication open, it has allowed them to feel connected even when we physically couldn’t be together.

How have wellbeing initiatives supported current and incoming students?

Building a positive culture from the ground up is an exciting endeavour. There is no doubt that the pandemic has forced us to be decisive in our decisions, often meaning we must pivot and change direction or focus with short notice. I think this has allowed our principal, Damian McKew, and myself to think deeply about the type of school we want to create. While the staff and students were working from home, we were able to dedicate time to think about our plan in new and creative ways.

The students have been amazing. They truly are adaptable and resilient. I have been very proud of our connections, strong relationships and the fun we have been able to have while they were learning remotely. Strong communication and regular connection have allowed them to transition from primary school to secondary school, and from remote to onsite learning with minimal fuss.

This article was originally published in the Term 4, 2021 edition of Catholic Education Today.