Melissa Steps into Director of Mission Role

Melissa Trolio was appointed as our Director of Mission this year. She has over 15 years of experience working in Catholic schools. Melissa joined Santa Maria in 2020 as a Religious Education Teacher before becoming head of the department in 2021.

Melissa grew up in a strict Catholic Italian family and attended Catholic primary and high school. Although she was somewhat disconnected from her faith in her late teens and early 20s, she rediscovered her love for learning and desire to reconnect with her faith while studying in Catholic Education WA’s Emerging Leader’s Program in 2011. She graduated with a Master’s in Religious Education four years later and has since held leadership roles in Catholic schools.

What do you enjoy most about working in a Catholic school environment?

It is actually the only school environment I have ever worked in! So, having worked in three Catholic schools over the last 17 years, the most valuable and enjoyable part would have to be the relationships I have formed with colleagues, many of whom I now consider life-long friends. The lessons I have learned from them and the love, care and support they have shown me are why I am where I am today.

How do you manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance as a leader in a faith-based organisation?

It’s certainly not an easy task! After spending three years with my newborn son at home, I returned to full-time work. As a mother, teacher and leader, juggling these roles can sometimes be challenging. I am constantly supported by several other key staff at the College, and I hope to bring out in them some of their best qualities too. They often assist in alleviating my stress and offer helpful ideas and strategies. To maintain balance, I enjoy unwinding at home with a good TV series or socialising with friends over delicious food.

Who has been the most significant influence on your faith and why?

Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, has been the most significant influence on my faith. I admire Catherine’s disruptive mindset and courageous compassion, which influence my perspective on faith and commitment to helping staff and students make meaningful connections with the Gospel message of Jesus. I am also inspired by female scholars in Australia and internationally who model new ways for women to be heard in the church based on equity and inclusivity. I love reading about Women and the Australian Church (WATAC) initiatives and listening to the Australian Women Preach Podcast, which showcases preaching by Christian women from across all denominations, relevant to contemporary Australian life.

How do you ensure our College Mercy values are integrated into school life?

Integrating our values into school life is essential for maintaining a cohesive and values-driven school community. From my own experience, I have learned the best ways to integrate our Mercy values into all aspects of College life must include:

  • Clearly defining and then describing the value itself
  • Developing a plan and strategies to incorporate these values into the school’s culture and practices.
  • Communicating the values to all stakeholders, including staff, students, parents, and the wider community.
  • Modelling the values as staff in our own behaviour and interactions with others
  • Incorporating the values into school policies and practices
  • Evaluating and assessing our progress and establishing new goals or targets as needed.Top of Form

To tackle these challenges, Santa Maria College’s Strategic Plan focuses on three pillars: Faith, Learning for Life, and Social Innovation. The College aims to provide contemporary opportunities for the community to connect with faith, develop attributes to prepare staff and students to live, learn, and lead, and empower students to act on issues that impact people and the planet. By addressing the root causes of these challenges, Santa Maria College hopes to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where all students feel valued and respected.

How do you ensure that all students, regardless of their faith background, feel welcome and included in the school community?

We must ensure all students, regardless of their faith background, feel welcome and included in the school community. As a school, we do this by:

  • Emphasising inclusivity by actively acknowledging and celebrating diversity in all forms, including religious diversity.
  • Building cultural awareness by offering opportunities for students to learn about different faiths and cultures.
  • Establishing clear policies that prohibit discrimination and promote inclusion.
  • Providing support for students who may face discrimination or exclusion based on their faith or cultural backgrounds.
  • Encouraging dialogue and creating safe spaces for students to converse about their faith, cultural backgrounds, and experiences.

Thank you for sharing some of your stories, Melissa. Good luck in your new role this year.

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