Two principals, one a former pupil of her school, and the other an out-of-area educator keen to know her community, are among the new principals in Sutherland Shire.
Kylie Fowler takes the reins of Laguna Street Public School, after being assistant principal since 2015. Coincidentally, she is also a former pupil of the school. She is leading the school which this year has 470 pupils, including 62 Kindergarten children.
Mrs Fowler was a targeted graduate and started teaching at Fairfield Heights Public School in 1997, where she became assistant principal. She also taught and was assistant principal at Connells Point Public School. With two children aged 18 and 20, this is the first year she hasn't had a child at school.
"I love the families and staff here. You have to be a people person - make connections to students, staff and family, and get to know them and share the goal of raising little citizens," Mrs Fowler said.
"We are very invested in sports and performing arts and my goal is to broaden offerings so we have better opportunities for a wider range of children depending what their interests are. One idea is to start a photography club."
Mrs Fowler says ensuring staff well-being is also a priority, to keep young teachers engaged in their field. "Mentoring and looking after staff is about working together to make sure they stick around and love their job," she said. "I don't want my early career teachers to burn out.
"We are well staffed in terms of covering our permanent classrooms, but finding casual staff when people are sick means there often are days where people have to go off their normal assignments to cover classes. It's definitely concerning and it's getting more desperate."
Yowie Bay Public School's new principal is Bronwyn Jeffree, who was the principal of Tarawanna Public School in the Illawarra for the past six years. Before that she was relieving principal at Helensburgh Public School and relieving principal at Mount Keira Demonstration School.
She started teaching in 1992 at Sarah Redfern Public School, Minto. She has also taught at Condell Park Public School and in Campbelltown. Passionate about public education, Bronwyn will lead 355 pupils including 37 Kindergarten kids.
"I've got ex-students who are now principals. Whether a former student is working in a corner shop or they're playing football for Australia, you know you're making a difference," she said.
"I'm new to this area, so I want to get to know the community. The role of a principal is through leadership and the value system with the school."
Tarawanna Public School under her leadership built a reputation for holistic education and won awards for sustainability initiatives.
In 2023 the school was a finalist in the Sustainable Schools NSW awards and was second at the Royal Easter Show last year for garden produce from the school garden.
"I'd like to bring that knowledge across. It's a big part of our curriculum that's coming through. There's a banana tree garden here and I'd like to keep growing that area," Bronwyn said.
Fostering staff well-being is also key, she says. "We are really well staffed and we work on discovering the skills of our teachers and letting them thrive. We want to support our teacher's passions because then they teach really vibrantly."