Ms Panayoula Parha
Head of School
Norwood Morialta High School, Australia
Ms Parha has been a Principal of secondary schools in a range of settings for many years. In addition, she has been a Superintendent of Curriculum and a District Superintendent. According to Ms Parha, being in a school has given the most enduring satisfaction because there is direct influence and interaction with a school community.
Most of her professional life has been concerned with issues of cultural and linguistic diversity both as a teacher of English and Modern Greek, and as an advocate for students who may have been disenfranchised from education systems. Ms Parha is passionate about the IB because of, amongst other aspects, its focus on intercultural understandings and the centrality of languages in the curriculum.
How can the IB tap into your expertise/experience?
Many of the IB schools in Australia are government schools. I can give advice and a perspective as a Principal from a government school where we are bound by legislative and bureaucratic constraints.
In addition, as an advocate for the IB, I can lobby and influence my colleague Principals and government bodies.
What do you think are the strategic imperatives and challenges for IB in this region? How do you think it can meet them?
- Making the IB affordable to a range of learners - listen to the “electorate,” … there are “poor” students in middle class government schools and adjust fees for service.
- Affordable access to IB professional development - trust and certify bodies so that there is a more affordable mix of local and international professional development.
- Strategic partnership with government bodies as national governments seek to centralise education systems - engage with the debate and the decision makers - e.g National Curriculum development in Australia; discussion with the new Australian Assessment and Reporting Authorities.
What are the two lessons you learned in your career that you would pass on to others?
- Be open to ideas and people - there are many ways of achieving the same end
- Maintain personal and intellectual integrity, even if this is discomforting
What is the last book that you read?
“From Saigon to Adelaide” by Gia-Yen Luong, a year 10 student at Norwood Morialta High School as part of her Personal Project.
(Editor’s note: Gia –Yen researched her parents’ flight from Vietnam, wrote the book, organised its publication and funding, and launched it at a public gathering in September)
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