“Education is no longer about students in seats being fed information. It’s now about strong relationship building with each student, understanding what makes them who they are, and being adaptive and flexible to accommodate each individual learner.” Alice Hamilton, Assistant Principal
It’s International Women’s Day – what better time to profile the newest member of our Senior Management Team. Assistant Principal Alice Hamilton has joined us following 11 years in various roles at St Kentigern. She says she loves ACG Strathallan’s positive energy, academic rigour and strong, supportive community, and will focus this year on a wellbeing strategy that sees the school into the future.
What made you decide to come to ACG Strathallan?
The minute I walked into the main building and met Danny O’Connor, Robyn Pryor and Mike Balchin, I felt that the school had an incredibly welcoming feel to it. The values of the school and the vision Danny has for growing it were also exciting, because it is so important for me to be in a school that’s moving forward in a really positive direction.
Where were you previous to this role, and in what capacity?
I have been at Saint Kentigern since 2008. One of the reasons I loved it was because of the strong traditions and clear, articulated values that align with my own. I began life as a drama teacher, then moved swiftly into the English department, taking on curriculum leadership responsibilities across Levels 1, 2 and 3. I also took on a Middle College Head of House role before becoming a Senior Head of House. That job was focused on student wellbeing.
Like Saint Kentigern, ACG Strathallan has a strong community and clear values and learning principles that connect to my own ideologies.
What has struck you about the school since your arrival?
Strathallan is a sleeping giant. Its potential is enormous. The grounds are stunning and it’s so exciting to be the only school of its kind out this way, making it a real stand-out.
What I’ve noticed most is the academic rigour of the Cambridge course, the incredibly hard-working students and staff and the positive energy and love people have for the school. There is also a strong sense of community – everyone pitches in to get a job done and helps each other out. It’s wonderful to see so much happening outside the classroom, including House Events, cultural and sporting activities and a range of clubs to suit everyone.
This is crucial, as education in the 21st century is about an holistic approach.
At ACG Strathallan, you have a focus on pastoral care. What does this involve?
I look after all the students in the College, overseeing their wellbeing. This means I watch over their physical and emotional health, while also dealing with any behavioural concerns.
Alongside the deans, I constantly look for ways we can support our students in every aspect of their education. I also work closely with Marcia, our school counsellor, who is an important part of our team.
What will be your focus for this year?
This year I am looking at and reflecting upon the systems already in place at Strathallan with regard to pastoral care, while also working out a bigger wellbeing strategy to see us into the future.
What does a good education look like?
Good education is about looking at the whole child and ensuring that their wellbeing, academic pathway and life outside the classroom are all areas of focus. Education is no longer about students in seats being fed information. It’s now about strong relationship building with each student, understanding what makes them who they are, and being adaptive and flexible to accommodate each individual learner. It’s about seeing the whole person in front of us and helping that person be the best they can be.
I strongly believe that school needs to be a haven for students. It should be a place of safety and a place that nurtures our young people, so that whatever is happening outside our school gates, students know that when they get here, they are consistently cared for.
What made you decide to become a teacher and work in education?
When I was five, I asked Santa for a whiteboard so that I could practise conducting lessons and running a classroom. I used to force my little sister to be the student – despite her protests – and made her complete mathematical tasks and English. The poor girl!
Fast-forward 20 years and a number of jobs in the hospitality industry, both in New Zealand and Canada, I finally realised the teaching-bug was still lurking and started on the path to becoming a real-live teacher with students who actually wanted to be there (most of the time!).
What about your own education?
I teach English. My degree was a double-major in English and Sociology. I have also done my Graduate Diploma in teaching and my Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Leadership – I focused largely on mentoring teachers and change management.