I first met Kate Mitchell in the 1990s, when our school was shrinking and the government in power wanted to force its closure. The principal at that time, Robert Jenkin, refused to cave in to the demands of that government. Mr Jenkin was not an easy man to intimidate. He had worked as the president of the teachers’ union and he was used to resisting the pressure of politicians.
Mrs Mitchell took over from Mr Jenkin and she has worked with the utmost dedication and resolution, ultimately making the role of principal her very own and putting her stamp on our school. In the process, she has had to withstand considerable pressure herself, just as her predecessor did. Two decades later, our school has 1300 students and is highly regarded in the community.
Although she began here as a regular teacher, Mrs Mitchell rose rapidly through the hierarchy, becoming the year twelve coordinator, then the deputy principal and finally the principal. In this position, she has worked tirelessly to improve the school environment, to appoint committed and highly competent teachers, and to ensure that the school retains its friendly and welcoming nature. This is a school where teachers and students can simply be who they are: those who love reading can sit in the quadrangle and read; those who are gamers can go on a camp together; those who love the arts can display their talents; those teachers who have a special dream or a wild idea can follow it and realise it.
We tend to take these daily wonders for granted until the people who make them possible leave us. This week we say farewell to Mrs Mitchell. How can we express our gratitude to her?
Please write a comment in which you describe what you most appreciate about Mrs Mitchell or about the school where we work, learn, make lifelong friends and pursue our varied endeavours.
For instance, I am deeply grateful to have worked for two principals whose kindness, integrity and decency are beyond question. I am particularly thankful that Mrs Mitchell allowed me to travel to Germany on two occasions to complete courses with the Goethe Institute in Frankfurt and Munich. Most of all, I appreciate having the opportunity to teach in this school. Your class, like many others that I have encountered, fills me with pride and delight — and gratitude.