There hasn’t been a day that Mary Fitz-Gerald hasn’t wanted to go to work in the last two decades.
But after 20 years as Principal at Belgrave’s Mater Christi College, Mrs Fitz-Gerald will be stepping into retirement at the beginning of 2021.
When reflecting on the most rewarding parts of her career in all-girls education, it’s witnessing student’s growth both at school and beyond that stands out the most.
“Witnessing the growth of students during their six years at the college and the stories of our alumni affirm what we have been doing as educators. We work in partnership with parents and it is really heartening and wonderful when you hear the stories of former students contributing locally and internationally,” she said.
Mrs Fitz-Gerald made the move to the hills to take on the role as Principal in 2001 – with her family in tow – after working as a teacher, Director of Curriculum and Campus Director in Ballarat. Having made the hills home over the years, she has no intentions to leave in her retirement.
As a passionate educator, Mrs Fitz-Gerald values the strong partnerships she has formed with students and parents – and not even the difficulties of 2020 could dim her positivity and passion for teaching.
“This year has been a major highlight and some people would be surprised at that,” she said.
“Some people say, ‘surely you should of chosen to retire a year earlier’, and I say no way! I have always been keen on looking into the future for education and using technology was an amazing opportunity.
“This year has been a year in the making. Witnessing this school operate as a community through the harder Covid time has been an honour.
Over the years, Mrs Fitz-Gerald has witnessed Mater Christi transform into a progressive school with modern facilities that can cater to the needs of all girls that come through the school doors.
She is particularly proud that VCAL work-oriented skills, including organisation, creativity, teamwork and adaptability, are now included in the learning outcomes for VCE.
“The skills assessed in VCAL are skills they all need,” she said.
Mrs Fitz-Gerald believes that during her time, a greater sense of the importance of all-girls education has been achieved and is confident that the school’s new Principal will continue to take the school forward.
With the school closing on December 18, Mrs Fitz-Gerald will remain involved until January 18 2021 as Year 12 results come out on December 30 and she is assisting with linking international students with carers in early January.
She looks forward to taking some time for family and friends, reading and gardening in the first period of her retirement, before looking at where she can contribute in other areas and activities.