WA Primary Principal of the Year 2021

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Leading with passion and empathy

Louise O’Donovan, Beeliar Primary School
WA Primary Principal of the Year

A strong school leader is one who leads with integrity, empathy, knowledge and skill to build a school culture focused on student learning, well-being and achievement.

If there is anyone who demonstrates what it means to be a passionate school leader, it’s Beeliar Primary School Principal Louise O’Donovan.

Louise cares deeply for each member of the school community and acts on a strong sense of duty to ensure everyone’s time at Beeliar Primary is rewarding, successful and life-changing.

She is a highly visible leader who impacts on student learning by setting a strong vision for staff and working unremittingly towards high quality teaching, high academic achievement and student health and well-being.

“I see teaching as a vocation and I am dedicated to serving others,” Louise says.

“It is the most rewarding job and it brings me joy every day. 

“I am very lucky to work in an area that I am passionate about, which is making a difference for children.”

Louise says seeing the joy when children succeed is her passion.

“I want our children to have happy and productive lives, with good self-esteem and mental health. It is my passion and purpose to create an environment that allows that to happen,” she says.

A highlight of Louise’s career was being chosen for the Harvard Fellowship in 2019.

“I was so very proud and honoured to be chosen for this,” she says.

“I hope I can pass on my leadership learnings to the aspirant leaders I mentor.”

A key focus of Louise’s is ensuring her staff are fully equipped to provide the highest quality education for all students, and hopes to continue to support and mentor teachers in the future.

She has worked closely with teaching staff to develop a balanced approach to curriculum delivery that is consistently applied across the school.

While student learning is fundamental to Louise’s leadership, it is through the development of a strong and unified culture that this is maximised.

“My passion is to inspire and support high quality teachers as they make the most difference to children’s success,” she says.

“I am an instructional leader and love leading and guiding teachers to be the best they can be.

“Developing teachers to be the best they can be is the key to student success and productive pathways.”

Louise has also built a distributed leadership model that has developed the mentoring and coaching skills of many expert teachers within the school.

She can identify strengths, as well as nurture and encourage innovation and celebrate the success of the team.

Her commitment to staff development is reflected in the prioritisation of resourcing and the strong professional learning communities that exist solely for the purpose of enhancing student outcomes.

“Students need to be empowered and inspired to be motivated learners,” she says.

“We need to celebrate their success at every level on their journey.”

Louise recognises the unique and important contribution of each member of the school community and is especially passionate about the celebration of Noongar culture.

Louise spends each Thursday afternoon with Aboriginal students, focusing on reading, cooking, playing sport and learning about their culture.

It is this commitment that is indicative of all that Louise does at Beeliar Primary School and beyond.

She is an outstanding leader with the skills, knowledge, commitment and desire to continue to develop Beeliar Primary as an agent for change for students, staff and the wider community.

“I would like my students to remember me for having high expectations and for creating a school culture that is inspiring,” she says.

“I hope they know that I see them and value each of them for their uniqueness. 

“I hope they see that we are a school of excellence for both academic and social learning.”

This award recognises the exciting and significant role of principals in primary schools. As mentors and motivators, they create partnerships and work with their communities. They secure the best possible learning outcomes for their young students.

This award is proudly sponsored by Fotoworks.

  • Louise O’Donovan, Beeliar Primary School
  • Lynne Bates, Campbell Primary School
  • Melanie Sutherland, Northampton District High School
  • Narelle Ward, Cassia Primary School