Bernadette Fabri, Principal at St Patrick’s Primary Parramatta.
Name: Bernadette Fabri
Title: Principal at St Patrick’s Primary Parramatta
What do you do in your job?
One of the most satisfying things about being a teacher or a principal is that no two days or weeks are the same. There are so many different aspects to the role ranging from administrative tasks to watching children learn and achieve.
How long have you been doing this job, and what first sparked your interest in this area?
This is my ninth year as a principal, but I didn’t have this aspiration as a young teacher. I think you recognise that you have the ability and desire to make an enormous difference in the lives of a community and become confident to give it a go.
What do you like most about the job?
There are many aspects that I love but the most satisfying is watching children and staff grow and flourish and increase their confidence and skills. They contribute to the school in the most extraordinary ways that far exceed what one can do alone.
What was the most unexpected thing you have had to do in your job?
Without doubt, having to lead a school during a pandemic was the most unexpected thing that I had to do. Never in a million years, as they say, did I see that coming.
How have you adapted to greater demand for online learning during COVID? What other challenges have you faced during the pandemic?
Online learning was a steep learning curve for both students and staff with the pressure and desire to achieve success in a short period of time.
Supporting children from diverse situations meant continually adapting things to suit as many families as possible.
Decisions focused on safety first and maintaining good relationships when most people were feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Guideline changes were also challenging and most principals experienced decision fatigue.
How transferable are your skills? Are there any other jobs that require similar skills and qualifications?
I have always been in education. [But] I think they are extremely transferable. Solving complex problems, developing strong interpersonal skills, patience and an even temperament under stress. Leading a school also requires a positive and hopeful attitude and an understanding that success is best achieved when people feel valued and supported to contribute in their own unique ways.
What advice do you have for people wanting to get into a career related to your skills and experience?
The satisfaction gained from teaching is indescribable. I’m sure many people remember a teacher that changed their lives because they believed in them in some way. Most teachers do this as part of their natural tendency to nurture and a love of learning. Our future depends on the brightest and most capable young people entering the profession.
What skills and personal skills do people need in teaching?
It’s highly relational, and people skills are a must. It requires a deep interest in learning the most effective ways to increase student achievement growth and the ability to foster quality relationships in the workplace and solve complex problems.