Mat Puljiz: Appointed Dean of Students, Year 8

We’re delighted to welcome Mathew Puljiz to the Santa Maria College community this year. Mat has been appointed Dean of Students for our Year 8 cohort, and also takes Mathematics and Physical Education classes. 

We sat down with Mat, to learn a little bit about his background, what this new role means to him, and what he hopes to achieve for our Year 8 students. 

Could you tell us a little bit about your background?

I’ve spent the past ten years at Newman College, a co-educational catholic school educating in the Marist tradition and had the privilege of being a Leader of Wellbeing in that community. I was a member of the Physical Education Department, specialising in Physical Education Studies at an ATAR level. I was also a member of the Mathematics Department specialising in teaching middle school Mathematics. 

What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?

I love spending as much time with my young family as I can. I have a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter who keep me on my toes (and awake at night!). As a family, we spend much of our time down south enjoying everything the region offers. Sport has always been a big part of my life, and I still enjoy playing and watching all sports. I’m beginning my golfing journey at the moment, so much to my wife’s disappointment (or maybe delight?), I’m spending a considerable amount of time on the golf course. I also love cooking for my family and friends, and with two young children, I prioritise a good long macchiato! Life is too short for bad coffee. 

What inspired you to apply for the role?

There were a few reasons why I was inspired to apply for the role of Dean of Students at Santa Maria College. The first of these was the vision of the College Executive Team and Principal Jennifer Oaten. I was excited about the prospect of working within a school that is committed to being a leader of holistic teaching and learning and prioritises wellbeing. I was also attracted to working at a school where the values of Excellence, Justice, Compassion, Service and Hospitality are held at the forefront of what happens at the College. I believe in the importance of inspiring young women, and I am an advocate for challenging and inspiring girls to become leaders in whatever it is that they aspire to do. I want the students in my care to be courageous, compassionate and confident young women.  

What do you believe are the qualities a Dean of Students needs to be effective?

I’ll let you know at the end of the year! I think that it’s essential that the Dean of Students recognises that each student has unique gifts and talents and that everyone’s needs are different. Each student should feel known, cared for, and valued as an individual. This is important to me. A major part of the role is to encourage girls to take risks in a safe and supported environment, develop resilience, discover their strengths and passions, and grow to be young women of compassion and integrity.

What is your vision for our Year 8 students, and do you have any goals or objectives?

I am a believer that when students feel good about themselves, they perform to the best of their abilities and will positively engage with and serve the Santa Maria College community. My personal goal (and a high priority) is to learn as many names as I can in a short timeframe (both students and staff)! My overall objective for 2023, is to dedicate time and develop strong relationships with the students, staff and community here at Santa Maria College. 

My vision is that we see the Year 8 students at Santa Maria College take charge of their own journey of self-discovery and encourage them to take charge of their own wellbeing, as well as their learning, so they are prepared for life beyond school. With the strategic intent of providing a school experience that is positive, in which girls feel that they belong and that their contributions matter, girls’ potential is nurtured and fostered into holistic skills for lifelong learning.

What would your biggest piece of advice be to students, in ensuring they get the most out of their Santa Maria College experience?

I’d encourage all students to begin developing a growth mindset, work towards academic resilience, and take on the opportunities afforded to them to not only support their personal development and self-management but to make an impact on the Santa Maria College community that has given them so much. By looking outwards rather than in, we hope to support students to be a part of service-learning experiences, to deepen their faith journey and to develop their sense of place in the world whilst growing into good Christian’s and good citizens.

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