Focused on growth and potential – International Women’s Day 2022John Blois
This week, we sat down with Renee Culgan – the Director of TESS (Academic) at Trinity. Joining the team in 2020, Renee settled into life at Trinity in one of the most tumultuous years in recent times but the experience didn’t dampen her love for the works she does alongside her team and the students they help each day.
“It has been a good experience through COVID,” she says. “I work with such a highly-skilled team – everyone is really talented and they really know the boys well. They were able to make that switch to remote learning relatively easily to support boys online.
“Our teachers in learning support, gifted and talented and English as an Additional Language / Dialect (EALD) really stepped up, providing more one-to-one support to the boys than they would usually access within the School.”
Renee recognises that the pandemic hasn’t always been easy for her and the team as they were stretched and challenged in ways they weren’t expecting. However, she says, the team has shown just how skilled and highly adaptable they are.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Renee has a long history of looking for new ways to grow. Her teaching career spans 20 years during which time she has had a broad range of experience, from being in the classroom, pursuing learning support, library teaching, EALD, gifted and talented, and more. But there was one role that stood out from the rest.
“I absolutely loved being a reading recovery teacher,” she says. “It was the highlight of my career and really gave me that passion for learning support.”
When the opportunity to work at Trinity came her way, she leapt at the chance to pursue a role that could grow this passion.
“There were lots of things that made me want to work at Trinity – being an elite school, having the challenge of a new environment, being able to take the knowledge and skills from previous roles, and being able to adapt to a new setting. I hoped to bring it all together in this role and I feel like I’ve had success in doing that so far.”
For Renee, it’s difficult to know what each day will bring – “No two days are the same – there is no identical day, no identical boys with identical needs”. Even so, she looks forward to the growth that she witnesses each year.
“The opportunity to grow the current students’ potential through our department is huge. It’s very rewarding to see how the boys have grown. I’m across all three campuses, so I see them at all stages.”
For her own growth and development, she knows that Trinity has support on offer when she needs it.
“Trinity really encourages lifelong learning. Everyone – especially our leadership – is interested in continued development and growth professionally. They will support you – I feel very supported.”
In particular, Renee names Mrs Deborah Williams (Academic Dean) as someone she looks up to in the education space, saying she is a “very inspirational educator and human being”. Outside of education, Renee looks up to her own Mum, looking to emulate her empathy and compassion in every aspect of her role at the School and in life.
Read more about the TESS team and their work at Trinity Grammar School.