By Esther Lauaki
Michelle Huggan is about a week into her new role as principal at Killara Primary School. She chats with Esther Lauaki.
What is your connection to the Sunbury?
I live in Sunbury with my two boys, who are involved in local footy, cricket, tennis and swimming groups. I attend Sunbury Baptist Church and co-ordinate the Sunday school program there. I have also just begun as the principal of Killara Primary School this term.
How long have you lived in the area?
I first moved to Sunbury 16 years ago because I was teaching in a school in the western suburbs of Melbourne and commuting from the other side of the city, so I wanted to move closer to where I worked.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about every student I work with getting the best experience of school that is possible and to know that I believe that they can achieve great things. What this looks like depends on each individual student and their needs at the time. However, all of them need the opportunity to display their strengths and to engage with the things that interest them. For those students that need extra support, I like to build a team of people around them that can help support their development, both from an academic and wellbeing perspective.
You have just started as the principal at Killara Primary School. What was your role before this one?
Before beginning as the principal at Killara, I was the principal at Stevensville Primary School in St Albans for five and a half years and have been teaching now for 23 years.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role at Killara Primary?
I hope to foster a community that learns together and operates like an extended family. Research clearly shows that one of the most important things for anyone, child or adult, is the number and the quality of the connections to others they have and schools are in a great space to be able to provide this. I also hope that everyone views me as an approachable person that they can come and chat to about things that concern them and things they want to celebrate.
What do you see as some of your challenges?
My first challenge is to learn the names of all the students in the school, their interests and their learning needs. I think one of the challenges that faces all schools is how to continue to stay at the forefront of the changes that are happening in technology and to continue to provide a learning environment that equips our students for a world that is constantly changing.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am a pretty open book, but one thing not many people know is that I am actually a third generation teacher and principal. Both my dad and his dad were primary school teachers and principals and a large number of my extended family on dad’s side were as well, so family get-togethers often involve talking about school and education.
What is the best thing about living/working in the Sunbury?
I love the sense of community that Sunbury has and that I can say that I know my neighbours. I also like the number of different community groups people have the opportunity to be involved in. And, particularly because I have young children, the wide range of junior sporting clubs that are available for kids.
If you could change anything about the area, what would it be?
That’s a hard question because there is so much that I love about Sunbury. While it’s not something that I would necessarily change, I think I would like to see more of us get a better understanding of the significance Sunbury has in Aboriginal/Koorie history, for example the Sunbury Earth rings.