Dr Elaine McDonald’s Tour Downunder
The beginning of Term 3 was graced by visits to each Loreto school and John XXIII College by Dr Elaine McDonald, a proponent of the mission and ministry of Mary Ward and an expert in the history of Loreto education. Elaine is the Head of Policy and Practice at Dublin City University, where she is heavily involved in teacher education. Her professional interests include: student centred approaches to teaching and learning; gender and education; intercultural education; education disadvantage and curriculum policy and assessment.
Elaine addressed senior students on Mary Ward as Leader, which complemented student leadership formation sessions in preparation for 2020 leadership selection. She held conversations with school executive teams and Religious Education teachers on topics as diverse as the future of Catholic education; hallmarks of a Loreto education; leadership in a Catholic organisation and challenges facing RE teachers and students in general.
Although Elaine’s time in each school was limited, she managed to attend a feast day liturgy, participate in a staff professional development day and enjoy tours where possible. She was particularly interested in the work undertaken in many of our schools to utilise space as an innovative learning tool. Elaine’s informal engagement with students and staff consolidated her perception that Australians are well versed in our rich Mary Ward legacy; that we engage with this legacy not as an heirloom but as a call to discern the pressing needs of our world.
We wish Elaine well as the new northern academic year gears up and thank her for her generous engagement ‘down-under’ via public lectures, school visits and support of the Loreto Boards’ Colloquium. Staff testimonies affirm our collective appreciation:
Our leadership team really benefitted from a mission-focussed discussion with Elaine.
It was enriching to share the challenges of teaching in a Catholic school and learn from Elaine’s broad experience of the Irish educational and church context.
Elaine’s presentation on leadership to our Year 11 students provided a wonderful context for their discernment, grounding them in the leadership of Jesus, Mary Ward and outstanding contemporary leaders.
Words: Loreto Ministries Director of Mission, Anne Muirhead