Compiled by Gian Ellis-Gannell
It goes without question that Ms Watkins has over the years had a profound impact on the students, teachers, and parents of Loreto Normanhurst. Especially significant to the journalists of The Mary Word this year was her generous allowance of a new, modernized website to revitalise the newspaper. Safe to say: we wouldn’t be where we are without her.
To thank Ms Watkins for her unceasing support of all aspects of Loreto Normanhurst, we have compiled the reflections of some members of the Loreto community on what Ms Watkins has taught them, and what she means to Loreto.
I have learnt a great deal from working with Ms Watkins and I will always be grateful for the many blessings of the time we have spent together, and the lessons learned over the years. Ms Watkins’ natural style of being gentle and firm, always true to herself and her values, has taught me that the greatest tool a leader will ever have in their kit is their example: that is, who they are, expressed through their actions and words. Ms Watkins fulfils her role with such felicity. Her wonderful sense of humour and the fact that she doesn’t take herself too seriously allows for rays of light to enter even the most challenging moments and days. She is selfless, giving and humble and knows that nothing great will ever be achieved alone, but rather that together, as she often says, “we make the magic”. I will miss Ms Watkins dearly and give thanks for the gift of her friendship and leadership.
Ms Ugonotti (Vice Principal)
Ms Watkins is a person of integrity. She has taught me to be myself, to be open to listening and learning from others and to be humble in my leadership. She truly embodies what it means to be a Loreto person; honest, faith-filled and respectful. I wish her all the best as she moves onto another chapter of her life.
Mr Madigan (Dean of Pastoral Care)
To be a Principal of a Catholic school is more than simply overseeing the running of a school, but also to be the faith leader of students, staff and the wider school community. The religious life is at the heart of Loreto Normanhurst and Ms Watkins has been a model of discipleship, care for others and living out the Gospel messages. Her sincerity in word and action is what makes her an exemplary woman of faith who has supported the faith development of all at the school.
Mr Merchant (Immersions Coordinator)
Ms Watkins, to us, has epitomised what it means to be a true Loreto girl. Thus, her teachings go beyond the physical as she embodies the values we all aspire to radiate; an ignited passion for justice and peace; a dedication to serving others with an open mind; a warm candour; a genuine search for joy in all things, and a sincere heart which shares love with all. We appreciate the integrity and wisdom of her words and actions, which are an indivisible reflection of the faith that is so clearly at the centre of her world, and therefore at the centre of our school.
However, it is Ms Watkins legacy of a personal leadership which we admire most, leaving us all as a Loreto Community, impacted by her presence. It is her gentle nature and genuine care for the whole person that has meant in some way, big or small that she has touched the lives of every Normo girl, staff member and parent. So although she may not know everyone’s name, it is known, that her “hellos” and “how are yous” are truly meant and graciously received. But most of all, every member of the community feels that they know Ms Watkins and with that, becomes clear the great trust which she has built, with all staff, girls and parents- proving that women in time truly can come to do much.
Evelyn O’Brien and Anastasia Leaver (School Captain and Vice-Captain)
Ms Watkins’ gentle presence and wisdom empowers teachers and students to seek, share and act upon their personal gifts while building individual /community relationships to enable a just world. She provides the gift of her time, and in those moments when I had an opportunity to speak to Ms Watkins she was 100% present in the conversation. Ms Watkins helped me see that important discussions about learning and life stem from the heart and mind. Sometimes the balance changes but is important that you are aware of the two concepts when you talk to people and make decisions.
I have learnt from Ms Watkins that relationships are most important. Individual relationships build understanding, collaboration and actions for a better world. These relationships group people together in this gathering called the Loreto community; teachers and students feel happy and useful in this Loreto Normanhurst community.
Each year during the first assembly of Term 3 Ms Watkins speaks of spring, the gardens and the flowers in the school grounds. This year winter dissolved into spring and as we now begin the journey into the warmth of summer, Ms Watkins starts the next stage of her life journey and service into 2019. All the best to you and your family Ms Watkins.
Mr Pluss (Dean of Learning)
I am a great believer in basing impressions of people on the small gestures they make, especially the actions they take when they think nobody is watching. One of the first things I noticed about Ms Watkins, which seemed unusual for someone in a leadership position, was that she would pour you a glass of water, or ask if you wanted a glass of water, when you would meet with her. I soon came to notice that this was very much a part of Ms Watkins’ attitude towards what can be termed “servant” or humble leadership and certainly something closely aligned with the Loreto values. Ms Watkins is someone who is cognisant of the affect a leader can have on the staff, students, and parents of a school community. She is genuinely interested in learning about the elements of good leadership and has certainly been an exceptional role model for myself and all the staff at Loreto. She will no doubt continue to be an inspirational leader into the future guided by her compassion for others. I wish her well and thank her for her support and inspiration over the past 4 years.
Mr Scali (Head of History)
Ms Watkins has been a wonderful role model for all the students of Loreto and is an amazing embodiment of our school values. We have been so privileged to have her as the leader of our school community, and her ability to make everyone feel noticed and appreciated will be sorely missed. I knew from the moment that I heard Ms Watkins’ first speech to our young year six selves, I loved Loreto and what Ms Watkins constantly shows that it stands for. I hope that going forward, I remember the many lessons that Ms Watkins has taught me and may one day be able to walk as elegantly as she does in impossibly tall heels. I will never forget her grace and her thoughtfulness- she has always made me feel valued as a student, and above all: heard. Ms Watkins has always encouraged me to use my voice, and because of her I shall continue to do so to the best of my ability. I wish her and her family all the best in the future.
Gian Ellis-Gannell (Editor in Chief of the Mary Word)
Ms Watkins has been an influential role in the community as a woman of justice, integrity, felicity, sincerity and verity. Her work within the school inspires many; she practices what she preaches and makes the effort to create a positive change. Her consistent presence at all school events great and small is always noticed and treasured, truly showing her dedication to our school and the care she has for all students. Ms Watkins is an exemplary example of the kind of school principle the world needs more of; one that inspires not only her students but the staff and community members around her with her hard work and passion for not only teaching but learning as well. Ms Watkins is such an important figure in our school community and will be missed dearly.
Mia Circosta (Student)
It will be extremely sad to see Ms Watkins leave our Loreto Community. I feel that personally, Ms Watkins is the prime example of what a Loreto Woman is, through the values that she instils through every inspiring word she speaks. Ms Watkins is a dedicated principal and supports her girls in every way that she can. I was part of the community service choir for Queen of Peace Church in Normanhurst, and to see Ms Watkins attend these masses and support us is so encouraging. I hope that she is aware of how much it means to her students when she takes the time to just have a chat; it is always so lovely. Ms Watkins, your kind-hearted and warm nature will be missed by the Loreto community.
Sophie Andreou (Student)
Ms Watkins was one of the first staff members I met at Loreto when choosing a school for my daughter. I couldn’t believe how involved a principal would be with everyone from the visiting parents and potential Loreto girls to the current students and staff that just stopped to smile or say hello. Ms Watkins treated everybody the same and truly embodied the spirit of Loreto. She has always been fair and honest, and there was never a communication that didn’t take into account everyone’s point of view. My daughter is the better person for being at Loreto and having Ms Watkins as a role model. She will be missed by all who had the fortune to know and learn from her.
Mrs E. Ellis (Parent)
A principal like Ms Watkins is an asset to our school. She will be remembered for her guidance, unique and wonderful leadership approach, and friendship to our Loreto girls. She has transformed Loreto into a community of faith and love, and we wish her the absolute best as we know she will move on to do more great things.
Mrs D. Visevic (Parent)
Ms Watkins has taught me a great deal during my time so far at Loreto, and I particularly value the lessons and ideals expressed in her bi-weekly Principals address. Among her many moving speeches, the most memorable thing Ms Watkins taught me was when she read a poem called “Only the Person Who Risks is Truly Free” in assembly. This poem was an amazing choice and reflected on our need to act upon our freedom; the need for each person to take countless positive risks throughout their lifetime, because without risks one cannot live a fulfilling life … and risks are, after all, the gateway to one being their best self. Ms Watkins has demonstrated this in my eyes since I first began year 7 when she spoke to our small year seven selves on making the most of our time at Loreto by trying new things. I wish her all the best for her future.
Abigail Roberts (Student)
I remember Ms Watkins as always being such a generous and inspiring principal. Always leading by example, she has embodied what it means to be a Loreto Girl. Her kind presence and dedication will be greatly missed. I wish her all the best for her future.
Brittany Taylor (Ex-student)
Ms Watkins has been a wonderful school and community leader. Kyle and I wish you weren't leaving the school, as you have had and continue to have a unique and powerful impact upon it. Having said that, we know that Ms Watkins, like the Loreto girls, need to enter the next phase of their life, and we wish you all the very very best. We send you off with love and Gods blessings.
Mr and Mrs Nacard (Parents)
Ms Watkins has played a major role in the entire Loreto community. From being a strong, powerful and influential principal to a friendly face around the hallway, Ms Watkins will surely be missed. She exceeded her role as a principal, being a kind, compassionate and fierce mentor and role model to all Loreto students. The little actions she did, never went unnoticed and though not always shown, all Loreto girls are extremely thankful for it. Ms Watkins, we will miss you more than words can express and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.
Maanya Maini (Student)
Ms Watkins has been an incredible role model for me personally. I admire her eloquence and kind nature greatly, as she is always full of empathy and understanding. She has never failed to comfort the many students of Loreto through any difficult times, and I will greatly miss her role as not just a principal, but a guide for the students of our school.
Tanya Visevic (Student)
Ms Watkins taught us how we can be strong Loreto women, and that we can achieve anything that we set our minds to. She blessed all of our communities minds with the faith that we can do anything, and should therefore strive for greatness, happiness and success throughout our lives.
Charlotte Wytenburg (Student)
For 18 years Ms Watkins has graced our school halls, as an outstanding educator and principal. Not only will we miss Ms Watkins impeccable fashion choices, but also the aura she creates, of confidence and optimism, like a rainbow on a gloomy day. With every ‘hello’ she offers, students feel special and uplifted and valued in the school community. We will miss her continuous presence, she lives at school after all, and the personal stories she shares in assembly, that make us feel included. But most of all, we will miss the way Ms Watkins accepts each and every one of us, despite our adolescent struggles!
Madeline Playford (Student)
Ms Watkins is an integral part of the Loreto community and her distinctive presence could never be forgotten. She has shown what it means to be a strong and independent female leader and proved herself a role model for every student with her compassionate nature, gentle wisdom and abundance of spirit. I feel extremely privileged to have had Ms Watkins as my principal for the past five years, and whilst she may be moving on from Loreto, her impact on our school will last for generations.
Mairead Stone (Student)
Ms Watkins has been such a wonderful role model due to her drive and determination. She always strives so that we may one day make a difference in the world as young, strong, independent women. The whole community will miss her strength dearly, and hope that she is aware of the long lasting impact that she has had upon our school. Her inspiring spirit will continue to motivate Loreto girls to always work to achieve a more just world.
Sarah O'Brien (Student)
Ms Watkins has been such an inspirational and compassionate Principal who has led our school with amazing pride and love over these past years. Her ongoing effort and dedication to our school community has developed such an amazing environment and it is safe to say that she will have a long-lasting impact on life here at Loreto. She will be greatly missed in the future, yet her spirit and true model of how a Loreto girl should act will always be remembered by the students who admire her dearly.
Alessia Anderson (Student)
Ms Watkins was a powerful role model for all Loreto girls, and taught us in her time here at our beautiful school how we can achieve success and be strong women. She never failed to remind us of Mary Wards saying, "Women in Time to Come Will Do Much", always adding "Your time is now." Her inspirational nature will be missed by all members of the community.
Adrianna Hanna (student)
Since first coming to the school in year eight, I was welcomed by Mrs Watkins’ overwhelming kindness and humour. Her consideration and understanding truly made my transition easier as I could see how much work she put into making this school comfortable for both its staff and students. She’s an amazing role model who’s passionate about justice and women, emphasising the importance of multiple causes. She’s a confident leader of this school who will be very missed. I wish her the best for her future endeavours and would like to thank her for the years of service she’s provided the school.
Kimia Degani (Student)
Thank you Ms Watkins, for everything.
~The Loreto Community