Principal in dream role

Holly ThompsonManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Pemberton District High School Principal Lee Illingworth in the school kitchen garden.
Camera IconPemberton District High School Principal Lee Illingworth in the school kitchen garden. Credit: Picture: Holly Thompson

Pemberton District High School has welcomed new principal Lee Illingworth to the school.

Lee previously worked as an associate principal in big Perth schools in Byford, Rossmyone✓ and Safety Bay before moving to Pemberton, with this role being her first in a district high school.

“The new role is really fun,” she said.

“I’m really enjoying it here because the school is quite small, obviously, and it means I get to be involved in all aspects of how the school operates.

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“But the role is not dissimilar to what I’ve done previously, so I’m really enjoying it and enjoying being in a district high school for the first time,” she said.

Although Lee enjoyed teaching in Perth, she said she liked having children from kindergarten to Year 10 in her school, instead of the Year 7 to 12 structure she was used to.

Watching the students grow and learn from such a young age and being a part of school projects for the younger children was something Lee had loved doing in her new role.

One such project is the school’s kitchen garden, run by students from kindergarten to Year 6.

“They love getting their hands into the garden and it’s a really special part of what this school has to offer that the students, parents and the community really benefit from,” she said.

“It fits in beautifully with this part of the world, which has such a strong agriculture focus.”

Working with the community and teaching the students about the local area is something she said she intended to maintain throughout her time as principal.

“I think the thing that makes me proudest to be principal here at Pemberton is seeing the real sense of community that’s here,” she said. “All the students know each other and they all look after each other, and it’s just such a lovely, warm and positive school to be working in,” she said.

“As a person quite new to this school community, I’ve been blown away by how welcoming everyone has been.”

Lee has also loved working in a smaller school because of the amount of time she can spend with the students.

“Education works best when everyone is communicating really well together and in a district high school, that’s even easier to achieve because the numbers are a bit smaller, so I’m really loving that fact,” she said. “I’ve found that I’m much more able to get out and visit classrooms and visit students and get to know the different people in the school and see them day to day.”

Although Lee has been in the role for a term now, she still cannot believe she managed to get the job.

“I feel very, very fortunate to be here,” she said.

“I pinch myself everyday when I’m coming to work and getting to see the faces of these students and work with these amazing teachers.

“It really is a wonderful school and I’m very fortunate to be here.”

Her intended plans for the school are to continue the sense of belonging and community engagement, which she felt already existed before she arrived.

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