emPOWERing our Girls to Positively Impact the World

Santa Maria College’s emPOWER Learning Projects provide innovative ways for our students to learn practical life skills, connect their learning to life and create social change in our world. Through empathy and capacity, our girls are empowered to positively impact the world.

The next generation of young people recognise the need to make our world a better place and require a specific set of skills and attributes to do this.

For example, our Learning for Life attributes: collaboration, initiative, problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, compassion, resilience, and stewardship.

The emPOWER projects develop these skills, ignite new ideas and push the limits of what students believe is possible.

Before the launch of emPOWER, the College already had a range of enhanced learning programs.

These have been redesigned to address our College Vision, which is “to be leaders in education, empowering all to create social change”. They now also link with our College Pillars, ‘Social Innovation’ and ‘Learning for Life’, which form part of the Strategic Plan.

Year 7 students engaging in the Nearer to Nature Excursion at Point Walter, which formed part of the Seek7 learning project.

The emPOWER learning projects can take anywhere from one week to one term to complete. Some are completed individually, while others are a collaboration between small groups and even whole homerooms.

Each project involves students taking time away from their usual timetable to work on their project while being mentored and upskilled by staff.

Each year group tackles a different complex issue, starting with a ‘big question’, which each focus on a real-life issue that impacts society.

Year 5 students working on their individual projects for the Fearless5 expo.

We sat down with Simone Sawiris, Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning, to gain some further insight into the emPOWER Learning Projects.

“Student learning does not just happen in the classroom, so why should we think that this is the only place our girls can learn? Many of the skills that students gain are transferable and relevant for all subjects.”, says Simone.

“By taking time out of the curriculum to develop these skills in context means that they are more likely to ‘stick’ with our students in the future.”, adds Simone.

The General Capabilities included in the Australian Curriculum cover a range of ‘life skills’. As a College, we believe that the best way for students to learn these is by developing their ideas and enacting a plan that they have designed.

“The best learning often occurs when things do not go to plan, and by allowing students to ‘fail forward’ out of the classroom, they learn how to be resilient and adaptable.”, says Simone.

Elissa Glorie (Class of 2011) speaking to Year 8 students about her social impact startup, which formed part of the Explore8 learning project.

One of her favourite aspects of the program is listening to the incredible alumni who come to share their stories during the projects each year.

“We are fortunate to have many past students who turned one of their own ‘big ideas’ into a reality. Each time we hear one of our alumni speak, it confirms the importance of programs like emPOWER for young people today.”

For more information, you can read about our Seek7 and Fearless5 learning projects, which just recently wrapped up!

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