Melissa Marshall Takes New Role: Director of Academics

This week we had a chat with the new Director of Academics, Melissa Marshall. We asked her a few questions, to learn about her career before she started at Santa Maria, what being Director of Academics entails, her inspirations and more. 

Where has your teaching career taken you before your time at Santa Maria?

I have had some exciting teaching experiences over the years. Before arriving at Santa Maria in 2017, I was at Prendiville Catholic College for seven years and at Catholic College Wodonga, Victoria. As a graduate teacher, I started my career in the NSW public system and had an opportunity to teach in San Diego, California, while studying at university. My major teaching area specialisation is Computer Science, with a minor in general Science. 

What does being Director of Academics entail? Could you talk us through a typical day at work for you?

It is so many things at once! My primary role includes providing academic support – subject changes, courses and requirements we need to meet, tracking students and seeing how they are going in their subjects. The other part is all about supporting staff. A typical day could be managing bus routes, staffing an excursion, moving a class into a different room and supporting a teacher who needs to go home by covering their classes. I work with very diverse groups across the College, such as Deans, the College Leadership Team, and external contractors.

What inspired you to apply for the role of Director of Academics? 

I was looking for a new challenge and always loved puzzles – what is a more giant puzzle than a school timetable? I love helping to solve problems and working with colleagues on new initiatives. Previously, I was Head of Digital Learning, and I have a strong background in technology and learning, which has helped me learn a lot of the new software required in the role. I am very fortunate that our former Campus Dean, John Wray, is still on staff and mentoring me in my new role and as I learn, and I also have a great admin team to assist.

What do you hope to bring to your new role this year?

My two words for this year are decisive and compassionate, which is what I hope to be as Director of Academics. It is important to look carefully at the big picture and ensure all we do aligns with our College Mercy values, this includes even the timetable. We have so many things we can invest time in, and we need to make sure the activities and experiences we engage in are those that bring the most value and deep learning for everyone involved.

Has anyone in particular inspired you during your teaching career or during your time at school?

I have been lucky to be inspired by many people, including some of my own teachers in Victoria, where I am from, and in schools I have been involved in. I had a wonderful lecturer at university, Dr William DeJean. He was so passionate about adolescents and their potential. It was really inspiring, and I knew I wanted to work with teenagers after being in his class. Dr DeJean organised for several students, including me, to travel to the US in our third year for conferences and teaching experiences, which really changed my life at a time I needed it. His mantra was “everything speaks” – all you do, all you say, how you do it, communicates your values and what you think is important. I have this written above my desk at school.

How do you relax after a busy day of work?

Taking my dog Ned for a long walk in the bush – I live in the hills, and it is beautiful and peaceful. I love spending time with others who inspire me, especially teacher friends, so I also work hard at maintaining some sort of social life!

Thank you, Melissa, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us! We wish you all the best in this new role. 

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