Meet the former school captain back 30 years later as principal.
The majority of us probably couldn’t wait to be done with primary school. We were out the gates and had moved on never to look back. But that wasn’t the case for Nicole Jones and McAuley Catholic Primary School in Rose Bay. The school’s captain in 1988, Nicole has come home, returning in 2020 as the new principal.
Nicole couldn’t hold back her pride as she explained that McAuley CPS in Rose Bay is more than just ‘the school up the road’. While it may have been 31 years since she last walked through the captivating halls or across the school’s charming playground, her connection with the school and the community is as strong as ever.
“It’s a bit bizarre coming back, but it’s a really nice feeling,” Nicole said with an enormous smile.
“I left feeling as though nothing was out of my reach. now I’m coming back to the place I belong.”
Returning for the first time at the end of 2019, Nicole was amazed at how similar the school felt.
“We didn’t have all the bells and whistles that they have now, but when I left, the school had me confident, very happy, and ready to go to high school, I don’t think that’s changed, that feeling has stayed at the school.”
Back with 20 years of teaching experience, Nicole’s return was filled with joy, excitement and plenty of emotion.
“Mum asked if she could come along for the announcement, I said “Mum you’re welcome to, but you can’t cry,” Nicole said with a laugh. “Mum said back – I can’t promise that!”
Feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement, Nicole has been grateful for the welcome she’s been given by staff and the school community. She was especially happy to see some familiar faces.
“Mrs Gearie was my kindy teacher. She’s now working one day a week and it’s so nice to have that familiar face here. When they announced I’d be principal, she threw her arms around me. It was lovely.”
There was never any doubt for Nicole that she would go in to teaching, nor that it would be in a faith filled Catholic school.
“I always wanted to do some sort of teaching. I just love it,” said Nicole. “My Mum and Dad were married at [the local parish] St Mary Magdalene’s, my siblings and I all came through here, all our sacraments were done at Mary Magdalene’s.
“Sunday morning was walk as a family down to Church, then spend the rest of the day at the beach.
“My husband and I were married at Mary Magdalene’s. It’s always been very much a part of our lives.”
Nicole credits her parents for her success in life, speaking about them with pride and gratitude for their support and the way they raised her.
“Growing up with parents that had a strong faith, I think you pull on that and call on that in good times and bad. That’s what Mum has taught me- you don’t call on prayer when you need help or when you need something- it’s a part of your daily life.
“My mother especially is someone that had a really strong faith and has a real connection with Rose Bay church especially, so it’s been part of her life, and then part of my life and now part of my children’s life.”
Nicole has achieved a lot, and helped a lot of students in the years since she left primary school. Her advice for the year six kids as they left was always the same. “Believe in yourself because you can do anything. Believe in yourself, be you, and don’t change.”
And if you want to be a teacher? “Go for it. It’s the best job in the world.”