St Therese Catholic Primary School Mascot principal Gabrielle McAnespie reading to her studentsOn August 7, Australian Primary Principals’ Day, remember to take the time to thank Ms Gabrielle McAnespie for all she does for us.

What you may not know about Ms McAnespie is that she shares the title of longest serving principal of the 150 schools in the Catholic system in the Archdiocese of Sydney with St Mary’s Catholic Primary School North Sydney Principal, Beverly Coffey.

They both joined the ranks of our educational leaders some 30 years ago.

“There’s an old saying: ‘Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life’,” Ms McAnespie said brightly.

This is her sixth year as principal of St Therese Catholic Primary School Mascot.

The world in 1991

When Ms McAnespie first became a principal in 1991, using Zoom in the classroom was the future of education and the nation was in the grips of the “recession we had to have.”

Paul Keating replaced Bob Hawke as our prime minister, The Simpsons debuted on Network Ten, and the most popular baby names were Matthew and Jessica.

In our classrooms, the syllabus, the rules and legislation, professional learning opportunities, and speed of information exchange were among the things that looked different to today.

But some things never change, such as “imparting our faith and our values and the necessity for students to be literate and numerate, so that they have the essential core skills to adapt in an ever-changing world,” Ms McAnespie said.

Life before St Therese

Ms McAnespie began her teaching career aged 20 after completing an undergraduate degree in early childhood education. Her first principalship was at St Joseph’s Catholic School Rozelle.

In her early days she ran an innovative early learning project at St Charles’ Waverley, involving a fortnightly exchange between her teachers and teachers at a preschool.

She said the local preschool teachers wanted to know how they could best prepare the younger kids for school and the primary teachers sought to understand what their future students were being taught before starting school.

“This gave them a great insight,” she said.

Parting pearls of wisdom

After all these years, she remains devoted to her profession.

“Teaching is the most important job in the world and that’s because no matter what sort of career your students end up pursuing, they got their educational start in the primary school sector,” Ms McAnespie reflected.

“You make a lot of lovely connections with people along the way; that’s a very affirming thing.”

Three personal philosophies influence her in her role, leading and managing teachers.

She unwaveringly believes that “schools exist for children and they are at the heart of everything that we do, our staff members are our best and most precious resource, and education is a right and a privilege.”

Five ways to thank your principal on Australian Primary Principals’ Day

  1. Write a thank you note or message
  2. Write a testimonial about your principal to share with your school or community
  3. Give your principal a shout-out on social media
  4. Give a little gift of appreciation
  5. Simply tell them you appreciate them