Leading a ‘warm and genuine’ culture

Leading a ‘warm and genuine’ culture

This year, Saint Spyridon College – a small, close-knit school nestled in the heart of Unley, SA – marks 15 years since first opening its doors.

The school limits enrolments to 100 students for each school year and no more than 15 students per class, well below the national average of 24. The smaller class sizes are aimed at driving higher engagement from all students and to allow every child to engage with their learning in a more focused way.

In addition, Student Voice and Agency is integral to the school, which allows children to learn through activities that are meaningful and relevant to them as learners, driven by their interests, and self-initiated with appropriate guidance from teachers. The opportunity to speak publicly and develop these skills is introduced as early as Reception.

Below, The Educator speaks to the school’s principal, Britta Corones, about her leadership and the biggest teaching and learning highlights during the last 15 years.

TE: What kind of culture have you set out to build at Saint Spyridon College?

I started as principal in 2017 and what drew me to the school was the warm and genuine community. The P&F were incredibly welcoming, and the students had confidence and pizazz that I had not seen in any other school. I wanted to explore how I could offer the SSC community more opportunities locally, interstate and internationally. I also wanted to help the community to grow and to develop their identity.

TE: In your view, what is has been the greatest highlight in the school’s 15-year history so far?

The biggest highlight would have to be the friendships that have been formed between staff, parents and students and how they have come together to make the College what it is today, it is because of their input and efforts that we have such a caring community.

TE: Following on from the above, what are the most powerful and inspiring teaching and learning outcomes you have observed at the College?

As a small school, it is wonderful that the teachers are able to connect and communicate with every child about all parts of learning. Each and every child develops their intellect, their spiritual learning and their emotional learning. With the small class sizes and the SSOs and a caring Chaplain, all needs are met on a daily basis, parents receive daily communication, and everyone knows what is happening throughout the learning and teaching journey. There is open communication, availability and flexibility. My children have benefited from the teaching methodologies, the inclusive environment and the attention from all staff members. I have a noted a definite increase in their confidence and their abilities since becoming students at SSC. Students have gone on to win Academic prizes, The Royal Adelaide Show First Prizes, received special mentions from about their sporting successes and have won other wonderful prizes for the school. The staff, too, have been acknowledged for their teaching and have been recognised as nominees for teacher awards.

TE: Looking towards the future, are there any new and innovative programs that the College will be implementing to build on the great outcomes it has already achieved?

We offer and will continue to offer a balance of traditional learning with the sophistication of 21st century teaching and learning. Our emphasis will continue to be; making sure that our Primary school children are given the opportunities that primary school children should have; outside adventures, team building activities, practice of School Values, inter-school competitions, healthy snacks and healthy relationships with our environment, opportunities to reflect and show gratitude for the world around them, specific lessons on IT tools and how they are to be used in an efficient and responsible manner. We wish to incorporate more European and Asian connections including study tours, exchanges and global relationships. We also wish to reach out to other communities like our own to come together and build a stronger understanding and practice of Orthodoxy. Finally, the College is committed to giving back to the Community and with the SRC and Environment team, we are planning on our version of playing it forward with the people of Unley.