Principal interview with Donna McDonald as she commences the EDvance program for the second time, with her new school, Thornlie Senior High School. Read her insights and see how the EDvance program has supported her has a school leader.

Principal Interview: Donna McDonald
Hamilton SHS to Thornlie SHS


Q: Name 3 valuable things from the EDvance program?
1) A well-structured, research based approach to quality school improvement processes

2) The expert guidance of a Mentor and the Fogarty Foundation EDvance Team

3) Outstanding, quality professional development in leadership and change management

: What is something from EDvance that you’ve applied in your school?
The most important driver of improvement I applied relentlessly in my school was the effective use of student data at 5 weekly intervals to monitor and inform teacher practice and school decision making.

: What is something you wish you had known earlier in your career?
The knowledge of how to gauge the Organisational Health of my school and respond accordingly to ensure improvement and change is successful would have been invaluable earlier in my career.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received about being a principal
Best Advice – Know myself as a leader and know how others experience my leadership – quality 360 degree reflection and feedback!

Q: What is the latest topic on your mind?
Using student data to assist every teacher to be a quality teacher who knows every one of their students’ learning needs and ensures each individual makes good progress in their classroom.

Q: You are recommencing this year with EDvance with your new school, what motivated you to return? How does your current school differ from your previous school – have challenges changed?
My return to this proven, highly valuable program, was driven by the enthusiasm of my new Administration Team and my knowledge of the difference the EDvance Program will make for our students and staff. We are very excited to be a part of Cohort 4.

Thornlie SHS is a large school of 1200 students with a well-established reputation of strong governance and pastoral care. The teaching and learning challenges are very similar to my previous school. EDvance will assist us in harnessing the passion of the school community to create a culture of high expectations​. We will be raising the academic bar for staff and students and closing the gap for students achieving less than their personal best.

Q: What habit or saying from your Mentor has stuck with you?
At my regular Mentor visits and now as a part of my practice ….Where is the school at now? How do you know? What next?


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