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Creating Communities based on Belonging, Identity and Purpose

Tabatha Kellett was the first person in her family to complete year 12, holding a great respect for teachers close to her heart, she has gone on to experience an outstanding teaching career spanning early intervention, primary school and the ACT college system.

As a three-year trained teacher, Tabatha left Canberra to teach in the Northern Territory, working in an Indigenous community. Travelling from the Northern Territory to Europe in 1992, Tabatha briefly worked in Romania as a high school teacher and volunteer in an orphanage.

Throughout her teaching career, Tabatha has worked with students with diverse backgrounds including refugees and students with a disability, endeavouring to create a school community where all members feel a sense of belonging, identity and purpose.

“I believe we enrol the whole family when a new student arrives at the school, and for a period of time we are part of the village raising that child.”

Tabatha has been recognised as a forward thinking, relevant and responsive educational leader whose initiatives have improved the education profession nationally and internationally. Using her influence and position in the education profession Tabatha has worked to improve practices and policies for the betterment of students, staff and parent groups.

“Making a difference is a reality for me and I have a great joy in knowing that the impact we have on our students transpires long after they finish school. It’s emotional work at times, but I know that every relationship I build with a student makes a difference”

Tabatha has been involved in a national research project identifying the characteristics of exceptional educators and educational leaders, particularly those working in special education. She travelled to China in 2014 as part of a UC study tour visiting schools in Shanghai and Hangzhou to learn more about their mentoring programs in practice. Recognising the potential of the focus on mentoring programs and the collaborative practice of teachers, Tabatha led the extension of this research project to innovate on the Chinese model of observations and mentoring through Communities of Practice.

School Photo

Further to this, Tabatha has led improvements at a systemic level through her work to minimise the occurrence of occupational violence and develop best practice in supporting staff should an incident occur. Her holistic approach to promoting positive school culture has been acknowledged and recognised by leaders of the ACT Education Directorate.

Focussing more now on leadership and social impact, Tabatha leverages her current position as Deputy Principal to meeting the needs of staff and a commitment to making a positive contribution to staff wellbeing. In her current role as Deputy Principal at The Woden School, Tabatha prioritised staff wellbeing in the school’s strategic plan which has been executed through dedicated staff wellbeing programs and mental health awareness and prevention activities. Tabatha attracts resourcing through ‘Be You’ and grants through associations such as the Mental Health Community Coalition to ensure initiatives are free and inclusive for staff.

In her spare time, Tabatha spends her time mentoring other school leaders into leadership positions, encouraging school leaders to collaborate with one another, to challenge and extend their teaching practice and to be their best when creating safe and innovative learning hubs for the community.

Words by Caitlin Judd

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