Leadership – Jennifer Oaten

(L-R) Alice Gosper, Grace McLean, Nishi Jayawickrema, Lily Richardson

I am delighted to announce the Santa Maria College Year 12 Leadership Executive for 2023.

  • Head Girl: Nishi Jayawickrema
  • Deputy Head Girl: Lily Richardson
  • Head Boarder: Alice Gosper
  • Deputy Head Boarder: Grace McLean

Congratulations! I hope our new leaders will serve our community, be wonderful role models who represent all students and make Santa Maria College an even better place.

When I was in high school, I was quiet and shy and never dreamed I would be a Principal of a school, let alone Santa Maria College. I have learned many things along my journey and hope our Year 12 Leadership Executive and all our other leaders will learn and grow in their roles as leaders over the next 12 months.

I believe we never stop learning as a leader. I have been a leader for many years, yet I still believe there are always new understandings about yourself as a leader and about those you lead that can help us grow as effective leaders

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

What our 2022 Year 12 Leadership Executive has learned about leadership in the past year

I have learned that being a leader isn't about doing everything by yourself or telling others what to do; it's about working together with your leadership team to achieve more

I have learned that leadership is the development of myself as a person. I have learned how to think out of the box and that it is okay to ask others for help.

I have learned the importance of being seen and talking to the girls. I’m glad that I was able to spend time talking to lots of them.

As a leader, I have learned to work collaboratively. Not just with those who I am a leader with, but my peers, teachers, and other members of the boarding community. I have also learnt to be a voice for a large group of people, for those who may not be able to voice their opinions or are too afraid to.

What I hope our students learn on their leadership journey


Develop a sense of purpose

Your team know what they do and how to do it, but you can make a big difference by sharing a strong sense of why you are doing it. You can help your team develop an understanding of the team’s purpose and how their role contributes to College life. Take the time to consider what you want the team to achieve and why this will make a positive difference to the community.

Are authentic

Leadership is about being yourself and staying true to your values. Share your vision and live your values. Don’t be hard on yourself when you don’t live up to your own expectations. Reflect and learn from those times when you stumble. We all make mistakes, and they are valuable learning experiences too. Genuine humility is also a valuable leadership attribute.

Show empathy

Having empathy is crucial as a leader because interacting with others is a key part of the role. Understanding other people’s stories is an integral part of human connection, and as relationships are critical to effective leadership, empathy can help with this understanding. Building connections with all year groups and staff is important. When you understand others’ perspectives or opinions, you are more likely to accommodate their views in your decisions

Empower their team

You don’t need to know everything and be good at everything to lead effectively. Seek help from others, encourage them to take on responsibilities, and give them the freedom to be creative and recognise their efforts. Leverage people in your team with passion and skill in areas you lack. Your role is to help every team member be their best. But you are also important because you help the team be better than the sum of its parts. Great things can happen when people value the diversity in their team.

Are brave

Leadership is hard, takes much courage but also brings much joy. A leader must be courageous and have the strength of conviction to stand up for what they believe in, even in the face of opposition. A leader must be persistent and never give up, no matter how difficult the challenge may seem. Leaders must be brave and develop the confidence to speak in small and large groups putting forward ideas and proposals. Leadership requires us to be brave, say and do what is right, and respectfully challenge others’ ideas and opinions

Talk less and listen more

A leader’s job is to listen intently to what others have to say. You can show you are listening by not interrupting, asking questions to clarify and acting on what people tell you. You may find better ways to do things or hear creative new ideas by listening carefully. Leaders need to give all students a voice and be willing to change their minds.

Schools provide the ideal environment for students to develop and practice their leadership skills. If our girls are to be the next CEOs, chairpersons, or take on any leadership roles post-school, taking advantage of opportunities provided at school to develop these skills is a significant advantage.

Being a leader entails much effort and commitment, yet it is also highly rewarding. I am thankful for the chance to lead Santa Maria College. I’m always learning and improving my leadership abilities, and I believe great leaders never stop learning. I hope our 2023 leaders enjoy and take away many lifelong learnings from their leadership experience.

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