WA School Services Staff Member of the Year 2019

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Master of creativity

Chris Dullard, Shenton College Deaf Education Centre
WA School Services Staff Member of the Year 2019

“Working with deaf students is so full of special moments. Their sense of humour and spontaneity is wonderful.

“The students are always inspirational and show me never to give up.”

It’s this motivation that has kept Chris Dullard driven and motivated in her career in school services spanning over 30 years. Currently as Manager Corporate Services at Shenton College Deaf Education Centre, she’s a consummate leader for the harmonious and supportive staff community that she helps maintain.

Chris started her career in school support in the country, where her husband had been transferred to a regional school. Her first time living outside the metropolitan area, it was a positive introduction into life working in education.

“The school was a warm, vibrant place. It was very much embedded into the community,” she recalls.

Having worked as a school officer in a number of different schools in Perth and beyond, she joined the new Shenton College in 2001, taking on the unique opportunity to work across both the College and the Deaf Education Centre as they established themselves as brand new schools.

Chris’ efforts over the last 15 years as the Centre’s dedicated Manager Corporate Services have allowed it to run innovative programs for their students and give them the best possible opportunities to thrive and achieve. She’s a master of creativity, working tirelessly to make things happen in an environment of unique complexities.

“Chris is an outstanding leader in her own right,” says Michael Morgan, Principal of Shenton College.

“The way that Chris has performed her role to ensure the best outcomes for some of society’s highest risk students, needs to be commended.

“The initiatives that she has led, resourced and collaboratively overseen have had a significant impact on deaf children and children within the College.”

Chris was pivotal in developing AUSLAN as an ATAR course for both deaf and hearing students. Many students at Shenton College have been inspired to study AUSLAN as an ATAR subject, now so popular that there’s more demand than places available. She marks it as one of the highlights of her career.

“Probably the most memorable moment in my job was when AUSLAN was accepted as an ATAR subject,” she says.

Chris excels in the unique environment of Shenton College Deaf Education Centre and its relationships with their staff, students and their partner school Shenton College – known to some at the Centre as ‘the Big School’.

She ensures that the two schools coexist and flourish together seamlessly with a shared understanding, and continues to support Shenton College in busy periods and times of need, calling on her expertise and her true spirit in collaboration and relationship building.

“The biggest challenge in my job is keeping all the balls in the air,” she says.

Going above and beyond the day-to-day, she’s been recognised for creating a platform that brings the wider system to the needs to deaf students, rather than forcing deaf students to change and fit into the wider system.

Chris’ caring and compassionate nature working with the Centre’s families is highly regarded, says Dr Karen Bontempo, teacher at the Centre and the 2016 WA Premier's Secondary Teacher of the Year.

“Most of our students come from circumstances of disadvantage, due to a variety of factors. Chris has nurtured relationships with our families so she is able to provide individualised pastoral care to them,” she says.

“She has a kind and caring manner, uses her initiative to find solutions for challenges faced by our students, and our families trust her implicitly.”

Chris’ door is always open, and she understands and respects the complex needs of students who are disadvantaged, or are both deaf and live with another diagnosed disability. Students visit her every day, and put their trust safely with her.

“I always say to parents to hang in there if there is a problem,” she says.

“Because this will pass. We will look after your children when they are with us.

“At the end of the day, I want the students to know we care about them, and that we really do like them.”

WA School Services Staff Member of the Year 2019

This award recognises the important work of school services staff in making sure schools run smoothly. By managing day-to-day financial, administrative, technical and hands-on operations, they contribute to their schools providing the best learning environments for students.

Proudly sponsored by Modis.

  • Chris Dullard, Shenton College Deaf Education Centre
  • Merilyn Harvey, Kent Street Senior High School
  • Julie Hawke, Esperance Senior High School
  • Joshua Inwood, Yule Brook College