New faces take on the top job for new school year

THE new school year brings a new start for at least 11 people taking on principal positions at northern region schools this year.

Rebecca Hancock (Bendemeer Public School), Cassandra Diaz (Mallawa Public School), Jodie Bishop (Somerton Public School), Tracey Parsons (Spring Ridge Public School), Rebecca Smith (Fairfax Public School), Shannon Booby (Jennings Public School) and Sharon Ryan (Kingstown Public School) are among more than 60 staff across the state who are taking on principal positions in public schools for the first time this year.

Another 60 or so current principals will also lead at a different school.

For Mrs Diaz, taking on the job of principal at Mallawa will come as no shock – she has already been relieving in the position for the past two years.

She has been teaching for eight years, five of those spent at Collarenebri Central School and Mallawa.

Having now officially taken on the position, Mrs Diaz hopes to bring a “fresh outlook” to the school.

She plans to rejuvenate the literacy program, start a garden beautification project, and foster more community involvement in the school.

Mrs Bishop has had a similar experience at Somerton, relieving as principal there for the past year.

Moving to the small school – which had 13 students last year – from the 600-student school she was assistant principal of on the Central Coast came as a big change, but she said she fell in love with it.

“I really liked the idea of a small school setting, and working with the students and families here,” Mrs Bishop said.

She said her focus as principal would be building up her students both academically and socially, as well as involving the wider community in school life.

Four of the region’s Catholic schools will also have new principals this year – Meghan Donovan (St Joseph’s Warialda), Max Quirk (St Mary’s College Gunnedah), Katie Hanes (St Francis Xavier’s Narrabri) and Gary Hall (St Joseph’s 


It will be Mrs Donovan’s first appointment as principal, most recently having worked as assistant principal at St Ignatius’ Parish School in Bourke.

Mr Quirk last held the position of principal of St Mary’s Catholic College Cairns until 2010, while Mr Hall has been principal of St Mary’s Primary School in Bowen, Queensland.

Mrs Hanes has been employed by the Diocese of Armidale for 10 years and has been principal of St Joseph’s Wee Waa since 2008.

New principals take up their posts at the region's schools.

New principals take up their posts at the region's schools.