Principal a rare species in education world

Anne Maree Nicholls

Sister Ann-Maree Nicholls SGS agrees she is something of a rare species - the only Sister of the Good Samaritan working as a school principal in Australia. She’s also one of only two religious principals in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

 - The Good Oil

This scenario contrasts sharply to the pre- and post-Vatican II days when the majority of Catholic schools in Australia were led and staffed, for the most part, by religious congregations such as the Good Samaritan Sisters. (In those days lay staff were the ‘rare species’).

It’s also a strong reminder of how much Catholic education and the Catholic community in Australia have evolved in a relatively short time.

Sr Ann-Maree is principal of Sts Peter and Paul’s Primary School in the inner Brisbane suburb of Bulimba. It’s her tenth year in the role – a role she thoroughly enjoys.

“I love it! I couldn’t think of doing anything else,” she says.

“I’m passionate about education and I love being a principal. I love my job. I’ve got lots of energy for it and I just love the relational part of it. I love the teaching part of it. I love seeing the growth in the kids, be it social or emotional or academic. It’s just such a rewarding job. It’s great.”

For Sr Ann-Maree, working with parents and building community is also an important part of her role.

“Something that I’ve worked hard at here is developing a strong relationship between the parish and the school so that we are one community, and I think that that’s very strong and very prominent in our school,” she says.

This year Sts Peter and Paul’s Primary School is celebrating a significant milestone – 100 years since it was established by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.

On February 7, 1916, in the midst of World War I and just weeks after the Good Samaritan Sisters first arrived in Brisbane from Sydney at the invitation of Archbishop Robert Dunne, the school was opened to cater for the needs of the local Catholic community, which was in those days quite poor.

Photo: The Good Oil

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