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Getting to Know Katrina Brennan, Vice Principal – Head of Senior School

Interview with our new Vice Principal Head of Senior School

As a new member of the Scotch Family, could you tell us a bit about your background in the lead-up to your appointment as Vice Principal Head of Senior School?

After studying an Arts/Law Degree at Monash University, I began my professional life as a lawyer, working in criminal and family law. After a period at the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal, I focused on personal injury work.

I decided to pursue a career in education, as I felt a strong vocational calling toward classroom teaching. I have since had broad and varied experiences. My teaching has been in English, Literature and Legal Studies; working with Years 7-12 students and as a VCE assessor for English. I have taught and led in a variety of schools, including a large independent co-educational school, a country Catholic school and in the independent girls’ school sector.

I have held a range of leadership positions, including Head of House, Director of Middle School, Director of Senior School, Deputy Principal, Head of Staff, and most recently, Principal, prior to coming to Scotch. I have also completed a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Melbourne.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, what are your first impressions of our school?

I loved the grounds of Scotch from the moment I first came here, and this has only deepened; the gardens and ovals are breathtaking, and I particularly love the river setting with the gum trees, the Main Oval and the view to the Littlejohn Chapel.

I have had a warm welcome from the Scotch Family and have enjoyed meeting the students, staff, families, and of course many Old Boys and their families. Through these interactions, I can see and feel the love and passion for Scotch in this community. The sense of history and of being a part of something bigger than yourself, is tangible.

I am so impressed by what is offered to the students here: support, opportunities, and mentorship within the Scotch community, enabling our students to discover and develop their passions and interests, while enjoying the company of their friends.

How would you define some of your key pedagogical philosophies that underpin your everyday approach and interactions at school?

I take the responsibility of educating our boys very seriously and, as a parent, I understand the trust that families are bestowing upon us, by choosing Scotch to educate their sons. I have always sought to put students at the heart of my decision-making, and I believe that staff who love the students and love learning, do likewise.

I therefore lead with my heart, while maintaining and demanding high standards of myself and those around me. I have taken this philosophy into every class I have taught. If students know that you genuinely care about them as individuals, and believe that they can achieve, they will work hard and expect a lot of themselves.

I have been a relational teacher and have extended this philosophy into my leadership style – relationships with people lie at the centre of my work.

I try to face each day with positivity and optimism, understanding and compassion, and provide a safe, challenging and engaging working space, for students and staff alike.

Could you share with us some of the projects you are currently working on and are hoping to implement in the near future?

It is a very exciting time at Scotch College. I have been working with the Executive team and Council on the strategic plan, which sets a clear direction for Scotch College and encapsulates our values and vision, leaving scope for change and individuals’ input.

I am working with others in relation to transition programs, the health and pastoral care structures, programs in the Senior School and character education.

What roles would you like to see Scotch students fulfil in their future lives?

This is a great question! I wish to see Scotch alumni flourish, living a well-rounded life, enjoying the pursuit of their interests and passions. Many will excel in their careers, and I am sure they will be involved in a variety of industries. I hope they are well connected with people and enjoy satisfying relationships, and that they serve their communities, in the tradition of Scotch College and its graduates.

In your opinion, what are some of the key advantages of a boys’ education?

I think a boys’ school is uniquely positioned to celebrate boys and cater to their needs. In boys’ schools, the staff are choosing to work with boys and can focus on supporting them to grow to be men of good character.

We can challenge and engage boys. They are surrounded by male role models and strong female teachers. We can teach boys free of distraction and without gender stereotypes, in terms of subject interest and co-curricular pursuits. We are able to focus on boys and guide the development of well rounded, healthy men who engage with the world in a positive way. There are many ways to be a boy at Scotch, and the diversity of interests and pursuits is a huge strength.

Would you mind sharing with us some of your key passions or hobbies?

I love travelling and have been fortunate enough to do a lot of it in my life. I look forward to continuing to explore the world. It is wonderful to plan an itinerary and see it come to life, travelling with family and friends. I love the arts; I am a regular theatre-goer, a huge reader, enjoy live music and visiting art galleries and museums.

I love relaxing in the outdoors and in nature, at national parks or the beach, and swimming in the sea. I love food, wine and good friends and conversation. Above all else, I love my family, including my husband and son, and our beautiful chocolate Labrador, Marz.