Melissa Beggs, St Monica’s Primary Richmond, CathEd Parra, Catholic Schools, Look for a Catholic School, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, CEDP

St Monica’s Primary Richmond principal Melissa Beggs.


Melissa Beggs


School principal at St Monica’s Primary Richmond

What is a typical work day like for you?

School days are always changing. Typically I start each day greeting students and families at the front gate. I check in with staff, spend time in the classrooms, speak with parents and community members, and liaise with our parish priest. I also work closely with our office staff to ensure the school has what it needs.

What first sparked your interest in this area?

This is my third year as principal of St Monica’s and I have been in leadership for more than 20 years. I always wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. As I grew as a teacher I wanted to continue to make a difference which led to applying for leadership positions and completing my Masters of Educational Leadership.

What do you like most about the job?

I love working with children. They always give me hope for a bright future for the world as they grow, change and embrace new ideas, and passionately speak and act about issues that concern them. To have a part in teaching future generations is such a privilege.

What was the most unexpected thing you have had to do in your job?

There have been many things over the years that my initial training did not cover. One of the most unexpected was having to check that the baby brown snake spotted near the children’s bags had not slithered into one before we sent them home. Luckily, it hadn’t!

What is the worst thing you have had to do?

Sadly, I have had to comfort students after the loss of a classmate in a car accident. School becomes part of our wider family and when the community is hurting we are too. At these times, our faith is our greatest strength, and we pull together to support each other.

What challenges have you faced during the pandemic?

The greatest challenge during online learning was communication. We had to ensure the great bond between the students and their teachers was maintained and that families were supported. Another challenge was to make the work at home engaging and to provide feedback. Our teachers worked incredibly hard during this time and the positive feedback from our community kept us going.

How transferable are your skills?

I have continued to use and improve my skills in communication, project management, budgeting, site maintenance, staff management and negotiation. The necessary skills are wide and varied and could be used in a number of different roles.

What skills and personal skills do people need in teaching?

You need to be able to empathise, actively listen and have a desire to help others learn. This also requires patience, resilience and determination. Collaboration with colleagues is key as is a desire to not only teach others but to continue to learn yourself. A good sense of humour also helps as working with children is complex, fun and always different.

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Sydney Morning Herald

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