Principals’ journeys embody the power of education

Two NSW public school principals are on their way to Harvard after securing prestigious scholarships.

A woman faces the camera talking to a young man whose face is turned away from the camera
Image: Inspirational: Belinda Giudice

A western Sydney principal, who was the first in her family to finish Year 12, has acknowledged the power of education to transform lives after being awarded a prestigious Harvard Scholarship.

Prairiewood High School principal Belinda Giudice and Michael Sloan at Bathurst’s Denison College of Secondary Education, Kelso High Campus were today named as two of the three recipients nationally of a Harvard Principals Scholarship.

Ms Giudice said she was very excited but at the same time humbled by the award.

“I am the first in my family to complete year 12 and attend university, so to be selected to travel overseas to the world’s most prestigious university for on-campus learning is truly exciting,” Ms Giudice said.

“It reaffirms my first-hand experience of the power and purpose of education to transform one’s life trajectory.

“I see myself as a role-model to the community in which I work as I am an example that you can start from simple beginnings and make aspirational goals a reality.”

A man stands at the left of a group of students lined up for a photo
Image: Lifelong learning: Michael Sloan

Mr Sloan, who has led the reputational turnaround of Kelso campus, said it was an honour to receive the award.

“As a lifelong learner, it is an amazing opportunity to learn from and with international colleagues to improve my knowledge and practice. The prospect of visiting Boston and attending the program at Harvard is very exciting,” Mr Sloan said.

NSW Education Department Secretary Georgina Harrisson said it was great to see NSW principals from the city and country represented in the announcement of this year’s Harvard Scholarship winners.

“During challenging times for the education sector it is wonderful to celebrate two fabulous leaders and my congratulations go out to Belinda Giudice and Michael Sloan on being awarded Harvard scholarships,” Ms Harrisson said.

“We are extremely proud that two of the three scholarship winners are from NSW public schools. The fact one is from Sydney and the other regional NSW not only highlights the quality of our school leaders across the State but shows that location is no barrier to success in a teaching career.

“At Prairiewood High School, Belinda Giudice and her staff have emerged from a difficult few years that included a number of student deaths and being part of the hard lockdown during the COVID pandemic to celebrate the school’s best HSC outcomes in its history.

“It is a tribute of Belinda’s leadership that she has maintained a dedicated focus on leading learning as the school’s core business while wrapping wellbeing supports around the school to heal a significantly damaged school community.

“Michael Sloan has similarly used a focus on staff and student wellbeing and data-informed practice at Denison College of Secondary Education, Kelso High Campus to create a culture of inclusion and connection where learning is valued.

“Under Michael’s leadership the school’s reputation has improved markedly, while its academic results are being transformed.”

Ms Giudice received the Teachers Mutual Bank Principals Scholarship while Mr Sloan was awarded the Public Education Foundation Principals Scholarship.

The principals will undertake a professional education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that is specifically designed to strengthen the skills of educational leaders.

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