Director of Education from the Catholic Schools Office, Chris Smyth, has announced a number of new appointments at local schools, including St Mary’s College, Sacred Heart School Boggabri and St Francis Xavier’s School in Narrabri.

St Mary’s College deputy principal, Cath Martin, has been appointed to the principal’s role for 12 months following the resignation of principal Bernadette Feldman.

“Mrs Martin is an experienced Catholic educator with a long association with the Armidale Diocese,” Chris Smyth said. “During her time at St Mary’s College, she has been successful in leading faith and learning outcomes for students.”

Cath Martin first began at St Mary’s College in 1981 and held the roles of mathematics and science teacher, Year 11 supervisor, Year 12 supervisor and careers advisor.

After leaving St Mary’s in 1989 she gained additional experience with the Department of Education and returned to St Mary’s College in 2003, leading the school in the role of assistant principal from 2014, often acting in the principal’s role as required.

St Xavier’s teacher Malcolm Frend has been appointed principal of St Francis Xavier’s Primary School, Narrabri, from the beginning of the 2024 school year. Malcolm has 14 years’ experience in primary education, starting work in Catholic education in the Diocese of Armidale in 2009 as a teacher at St Xavier’s Gunnedah.

In 2016, he left the diocese and gained more teaching experience with the Department of Education furthering his leadership experience as the Director of Gunnedah Pre-school. He returned to the Armidale Diocese in 2019 when he was successful in obtaining the role of Religious Education Co-ordinator (REC) at St Xavier’s Gunnedah. This year he has had two short periods of acting principal at St Joseph’s Mungindi and Sacred Heart, Boggabri.

“In these roles Malcolm has demonstrated his ability to lead teams, facilitate professional development and build relationships with the community,” Chris Smyth said.

Malcolm Frend will replace former St Mary’s College captain and national swimmer, Nick Baird, who has been appointed Head of Learning and Teaching, in the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese effective from January 2024.

Claire Ryan is the new principal at Boggabri’s Sacred Heart Primary School.

Recognised as a respected Catholic educator in the Diocese of Armidale and the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, Chris Smyth said Nick Baird will bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills to this senior leadership role.

“Over the past 19 years, he has been a classroom teacher, Leader of Curriculum, Religious Education Co-ordinator, assistant principal, and principal of four schools,” he said.

“Acknowledged as a leader who has extensive experience in the use of data to inform practice, strategy and decision making, he has been involved in the development and implementation of Armidale Catholic Schools Office Data EcoSystem.

“He has also completed a graduate certificate in Theology and Master of Leadership and Management in Education”.

The new principal at Boggabri’s Sacred Heart Primary School is Claire Ryan who has 20 years’ experience in Catholic education, starting as a classroom teacher in the Sydney and Wollongong Dioceses in 2004.

In 2008, she moved to St Edward’s Primary School in Tamworth, where she held multiple roles including classroom teacher, campus co-ordinator, and leader of pedagogy.

“In 2020, Claire accepted the role of Subject Matter Expert: Literacy, EAL/D K-6 and Data in the Armidale Catholic Schools Office and throughout these roles she has successfully demonstrated her ability to create positive professional relationships with colleagues and communities and implement strategies to improve student outcomes,” Chris Smyth said.

“Claire has created and implemented system-wide scope and sequences for K-6 English and supported primary schools across the Armidale Diocese to improve approaches to guided reading. “Claire has also engaged in Armidale Catholic Schools leadership programs including the Keystone Leaders course specifically targeted at aspiring principals.”

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