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Sydney principal returns home to OLSH Kensington

George Al-Akiki
George Al-Akiki
George Al-Akiki is a junior multimedia journalist at The Catholic Weekly.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College in Kensington - The Catholic weekly
Gilda Pussich, principal of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Kensington. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College in Kensington looks quite different from Gilda Pussich’s student days. Now, as she returns home as its principal, Gilda has discovered the same familiar community spirit is still alive.

The graduate from OLSH’s 1981 class has established a nearly 40-year career in education in schools across Sydney’s archdiocese and is now moulding the new crop of girls in Kensington.

Except it’s not her first time back.

“My first ever teaching appointment was here. I remember back at the time when I went for my first job, I had six interviews and was offered five of those roles, but I took this one,” Gilda said.

“I had a deep love of the school and was here for 10 years. When this role then as principal came up I thought it was time to go back to the place I hold dearly in my heart.”

Between then Gilda has grown in roles at Holy Spirit Lakemba, Bethlehem College Ashfield, Trinity Catholic College Auburn, and Domremy College Five Dock, as well as more than 13 years as principal at Our Lady of Mercy College Burraneer and Mary MacKillop Catholic College Wakeley.

“Coming back to OLSH now, what’s remained here is that beautiful heart of the community, whether it be staff, students, or parents. It’s a school that really cares.

“They want everything that the word ‘success’ can be, whether it’s building the students’ spirituality, ensuring their wellbeing, improving HSC results, achieving on the sporting field or developing gifts and talents.”

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College in Kensington - The Catholic weekly
Gilda Pussich, principal of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Kensington talking with students. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

In particular she remembers the positive influence of Sr Moya Hanlen as her homeroom, maths and religion teacher, who later also went on to become principal at OLSH.

“This woman was just exceptional. She was articulate, classy and there was just something special about her. She knew how to get the best out of me.

“To think that I have walked in her shoes as principal now is such an honour. As a student I thought this woman was fantastic, and now that I have done some of the stuff that she’s done blows my mind.”

Carrying on her example, Gilda has made significant strides since taking up the position at the start of the year, getting to know staff and many of the students one-on-one.

Together with them, she is excited to get new ideas and initiatives up and running while keeping the community at the heart of the mission.

“I’m very keen on starting a parent body which somewhere along the line got disbanded. Their opinion is just as valuable as anyone’s and everyone needs a voice in the school.

“People matter to me, and I want to give them my time, all while maintaining high expectations and standards.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College in Kensington - The Catholic weekly
Gilda Pussich, principal of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Kensington. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“If that is your approach and people can see that, then they are onboard and want to have great success together.”

The advice she would give to her student self is the same as she would to any current student who now walks the halls under her leadership:

“Try as many things as you can. Take up opportunities, because all your experiences along the way build you up,” she says.

While buildings may change and people come and go, one thing for Gilda will always remain the same at OLSH.

“The spirit here when I attended and then when I taught was one of giving. People give of themselves and support one another, and that’s what I want to carry on. This school is at my core.”

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