The Subiaco Primary School principal was recently announced as one of four finalists for the WA Primary Principal of the Year award, but she says that the whole school deserves recognition.

“Although I’ve been nominated, it really is about our school as a whole; our 75 dedicated staff, 450 families and 670 children who attend our school,” she says.

“Principals don’t lead in a vacuum, so I believe it is important for my staff to be recognised for the work that they do. They are dedicated and passionate, and they respect and trust one another.”

It’s no surprise then, that Press’ leadership philosophy puts relationships at the forefront.

“The most important thing to focus on when leading a school is the people. Relationships are everything and communication is a glue.

“It is about connecting with the children, listening to and engaging the parents and supporting and inspiring staff,” she says.

For Press, leadership is about facilitating the growth of others.

“I believe it is my role to bring out the best in people, to help and support them to strive for continuous improvement.

“The staff need me to be forward-thinking, to be fair-minded, authentic and to lead by example,” she says.

“My staff are part of the Subiaco Primary family and they have a strong commitment to whole school approaches, collaboration and being the very best educators they can be.”

Press says that everyone at Subiaco works to bring out the best in one another.

“Our motto is made up of two simple words, ‘Our Best’, and it is something we strive for each and every day. We are a proud community school with a responsive school board, an engaged P&C, highly valued class liaison parents, a farmers market with over 2000 weekly visitors and we have strong connections with the local Subiaco Council.

“We have a strong belief in the need to embed strategies to build students’ resilience, social and emotional health, wellbeing and creative thinking in the learning program – peer mediation, mindfulness, chess, sustainability, first aid and social justice groups are a few of the initiatives we have introduced in our school.

“We believe that to engage students in contemporary, challenging and meaningful ways, digital technologies and higher order thinking need to be integral to the learning program.

“With this in mind, for the last five years we have had a 1:1 iPad program in Years 4-6 and we integrate technology across all learning areas from K-6.

“Habits of the mind, which are 16 problem solving strategies and higher order thinking skills, are embedded in our teaching.”

The use of digital technology has been a hallmark of Press’ eight-year principalship at Subiaco.

“Technology can allow teachers to engage children, differentiate the learning and promote higher order thinking. Technology can also help make the teaching more tailored to the needs of the individual child.

“Technology however, is a tool, the benefit is in the way it is used in the classroom. It is about a balanced approach. It is the teacher that can make magic happen in the classroom,” she says.

Subiaco Primary School has a long history, dating back to 1897, but Press hopes that she can leave her mark on the school.

“Our school is over 120 years old and at every whole school assembly we proudly say our school creed. There is one line that summarises what I truly believe: ‘a school is not a building, but a gathering of minds and hearts’. I want my legacy to be that I connected with minds and hearts,” she says.

The winners of the WA Education Awards will be announced on November 26.