Meet Jennyne Wilkinson, Principal of St Francis of Assisi Primary School.
Jennyne is a fervid leader who is passionate about developing dedicated and inspiring teachers and educational leaders.
From a very early age, Jennyne realised what an impact great teachers could have on students’ mindsets, self-efficacy and the development of their love of learning.
Jennyne grew up in Albury and after finishing school left the area to study and teach before returning to Wodonga. Jennyne gained most of her teaching and leadership experience in the Sandhurst Diocese, working at Catholic College Wodonga and Marian College in Myrtleford and now at the beautiful setting that is St Francis of Assisi Primary School.
It is Jennyne’s belief about the critical importance of relationship between teacher and learner that sees many of the students she taught in secondary schools choose to bring their children to St Francis of Assisi Primary school.
Jennyne’s family is the centre of her life. Her husband Glenn is from a local Wodonga family and they have three children; Kate who now lives in Geelong, Joseph who has just returned home from living in London for two years and Jacob who lives at home.
The community of St Francis of Assisi Primary School is inspired by the life, deeds and words of St Francis of Assisi
‘Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible’
Meet our Deputy Principal, Natalie Pierce. Natalie is an enthusiastic and innovative teacher and leader who studied locally, at Charles Sturt University, Albury.
Natalie has been a teacher and leader at St Francis of Assisi Primary School since 2015 and has a passion for working with other leaders to embed systems in teams to improve student learning. Natalie wants graduate teachers to shine and aims to inspire young teachers to take on leadership roles in positions that showcase their talents and passions. Natalie has a particular interest in improving students’ learning in Mathematics.
Natalie is highly motivated and excited to propel St Francis into its next chapter of innovation over the next five years as the school continues to grow and improve learning opportunities for students.
Natalie grew up in the Southern Riverina, NSW. Born in Deniliquin and then moving to Finley as a teenager, she completed her high schooling and learnt the impact good teachers could have on a student’s educational achievement and wellbeing. Her road to becoming a teacher grew from an exceptional English teacher she had in high school and was nurtured by her desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
Natalie has a husband, Clinton, and two young boys, Noah, eight years old and Joey, two years old who she adores. Natalie’s interests include cooking, indoor plants, candle making and spending time with family.
Live Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly with God, Micah 6:8
Meet our resident School Psychologist, Cassie Neville. Cassie has a vibrant, energetic and bubbly personality, and she truly loves working alongside children, teachers and parents as we all navigate through this journey of life! After graduating from Macquarie University with her Bachelor of Psychology, Cassie moved back to Albury Wodonga to be close to family and commence her career working with young people and their families. Growing up in a small country town with very close family and friends, Cassie knew that one day she would work in schools with the focus being on supporting all children. Having worked in Secondary Education as a School Psychologist for 12 years, Cassie joined the St Francis of Assisi team in January 2020, after an opportunity arose for the development and implementation of a Social Emotional Learning curriculum.
Cassie’s wish is that all children have equal access to quality mental health practitioners in school settings, so that it becomes ‘the norm’ to seek out emotional health prevention, and that we raise a generation of highly emotionally intelligent people, who will become the great leaders that our world needs.
Cassie also works part-time in a local Private Practice, providing therapeutic services to children and families, as well offering formal Supervision to Intern Psychologists accessing the 4+2 Pathway to registration.
Cassie lives in Baranduda with her partner Steve and her two busy boys, Hunter and Elijah, who also attend St Francis. On weekends you will find Cassie planning fun adventures with family and friends, laughing hysterically at Steve’s poor jokes, spending quality time with her boys, floating down the river, or dancing at Zumba! Cassie loves to read, and at the moment is enjoying the famous book “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Victor Frankl.
‘Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary’. Brene’ Brown
Meet Stephen Gilbert, Year 1 Learning and Teaching Leader.
Stephen, or Steve as he likes to be known, started his journey in Education in his late 20s. Before which, he worked in a variety of industries and careers from office worker to Sound Engineer. Music was always a passion and he has played in numerous bands (some really good, others not so). However, somewhere deep inside was always a flame urging him to teach. He began this journey by quitting his office job and started work in the Early Childhood sector working with children aged 0-5. He is still amazed at the amount of learning that these little people do in such a short time.
From there, he completed his Bachelor of Education at Swinburne University and worked as a Foundation Teacher in Melbourne. It was then, when living in a small two-bedroom apartment with his wife Samantha and then newborn Sophie that they wanted a change from the big city living. He deems himself extremely lucky to stumble upon the beautiful school of St Francis of Assisi and its wonderful community. Since starting here in 2019 he has had his second daughter Lilly and has found a love of the Hume weir, where he is often found fishing, swimming and skiing.
“He who laughs most, learns best.” John Cleese
Meet Jason McPherson, Year 2 Learning and Teaching Leader.
Jason joined the St Francis team in 2018 and hasn’t looked back. Previous to joining St Francis Jason had completed 9 years of teaching in State schools in a number of different settings. He fell in love with St Francis’s focus on educating the whole student, in particular the schools focus on the social and emotional wellbeing of all students. He attributes this to reinvigorating his love for teaching which has seen him move back into leadership roles over the last two years. Jason believes that children learn best when they feel safe and cared for in a supportive environment that focuses on putting the child at the centre of every decision.
Jason grew up in the Shepparton area on a family farm. Once finishing high school Jason moved to the border region to attend university. He now lives on a small property in Barnawartha with his wife Sally and two young boys Jack and Cooper. He enjoys being active and loves spending time with his family and friends. Jason is a keen water skier and mountain bike rider. He loves the outdoors and going on adventures in the bush with his family. Jason also has a passion for sport and has coached football at a junior level for a number of years.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn – Benjamin Franklin
Meet Nikki Ley. Nikki has been part of the St Francis family since 2019 and after spending her first two years working with our junior students as a Learning Support Officer, she has joined the year 5/6 team.
After many years working as a qualified hairdresser, Nikki decided to complete her Certificate IV in Education Support as she has always had a passion for helping children.
Nikki enjoys coming to work every day and plays an integral role in making a difference to children who need a little extra support. She strives to ensure students know the importance of education whilst trying to maintain a happy environment. Nikki has a great sense of humour and relates well to students. With her bubbly personality she can always be found with a smile of her face!
Growing up in Eskdale, Nikki is a country girl at heart. She has two children, Poppy and Max who also attend St Francis. In her spare time she can be found at the gym (to counteract her love for food) or spending quality family time outdoors.
“Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be lived.” – John Eldredge
Meet Emily Sarroff, an enthusiastic 5/6 teacher that has a passion for discovering and supporting the educational and emotional potential of the students she teaches.
Entering the school in 2010, Emily remembered the feeling of a “close knit” and welcoming community supported by a spectacular rural aspect. It was a smaller school where everyone knew your name and it wasn’t long until she did also. Emily has taught in many capacities and taken on a variety of roles over the years and has enjoyed being a part of the school community as it has developed and expanded significantly. She has recognised that even with all of this change the one thing that she has cherished the most has not, it is still a welcoming and supportive community that is very much connected to each one of its members.
Emily is a mother of three children and loves nothing more than to spend her spare time with her family. She is often found at a local park, going on big rides or finding that secret camping spot by the river and spending the weekend with her family in their caravan. She also has a passion for growing her own food and teaching her own children about the importance of eating fresh healthy foods. This passion has stemmed from her early career as a chef combined with her Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden professional development she was fortunate to be a part of.
‘Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way’. – George Evans
Meet Matt, one of our newer Year 5/6 teachers who met his students for the first time on Zoom!
The swimming pools, rolling hills, rivers, beaches, lakes and mountains of the East Gippsland area is where Matt grew up. He tried a few different things before settling on a teaching degree at RMIT University, Melbourne. Matt has previously worked at secondary and primary schools in Wodonga, Myrtleford, Beechworth, including eight years at a Catholic high school in Traralgon.
Matt’s love of teaching and being part of young people’s lives is strong and growing stronger in the St. Francis community. At school, his voice or some music might be heard from over the nature trail and across the grass during a PE lesson.
Outside of school, Matt enjoys finding new places to run and exploring this part of Victoria and New South Wales.
‘The greatest effects on student learning occur when the teachers become learners of their own teaching and when students become their own teachers.’ – Professor John Hattie