Exceptional leader recognised with Harvard scholarship

A schoolwide approach to changing perceptions has brought recognition for a Blue Mountains principal.

21 May 2021
A woman looks straight at the camera, while seated at a desk.
Image: Life-changing: Harvard scholarship winner Jenny Boyall.

Katoomba High School principal Jenny Boyall has been awarded a prestigious Harvard Principals’ Scholarship in recognition of her outstanding leadership.

Ms Boyall was one of three principals from within the public education system across Australia to receive the $16,000 scholarship, which was supported by the Public Education Foundation, Teachers Mutual Bank and the Harvard Club of Australia.

As an awardee, Ms Boyall and the two other principals will undertake a professional education program specifically designed to strengthen the skills of educational leaders.

Ms Boyall has been principal at Katoomba High since 2013 and with the same leadership team has turned around community perception of the school.

In 2013 school enrolment was just 520 students and while in 2021, 90 per cent of local students – 970 students - are now enrolled at the public high school.

Ms Boyall said the scholarship would provide an “amazing opportunity to learn from educators across the world”.

“From what I have heard from past recipients, it is a life-changing experience that allows leaders to reflect, refocus and renew their commitment to educational leadership,” Ms Boyall said.

“I am thrilled to have received the scholarship and look forward to learning from others who are also passionate about public education.”

NSW Department of Education Acting Secretary Georgina Harrisson said it was wonderful to see a regional school leader receive such a prestigious award.

“Jenny Boyall at Katoomba High epitomises our ambition that no matter where our students live they have access to a quality education,” Ms Harrisson said.

“Across the past two years, principals like Jenny have played a key role in helping their communities and students thrive in the most challenging of circumstances.

“This award not only recognises the innovation with which Jenny and her staff met these challenges, but will allow her to build on, and share more widely, her leadership insights.”

Public Education Foundation executive director David Hetherington agreed.

“No one in education has borne the brunt of the pandemic more than principals,” he said.

“They have balanced the daily changing needs of students, families, communities and policymakers. Like all of our Harvard scholarship winners, Jenny has consistently displayed leadership and innovations, not only during 2020 but across her entire career.”

The other winners were: Teachers Mutual Bank Principals Scholarship, Damien Keel, from Victoria’s Yarrawonga College and Public Education Foundation Principal Scholarship, Catherine O’Dea, from Christies Beach Primary School in South Australia.

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