Staff Profile : Southern Hills Head of Primary School Mrs Laurelle Coto

Mrs Laurelle Coto was born in Essendon and worked in Geelong – however, she is not the ardent AFL football fan that you might first assume when these names are mentioned.

She has a Master in Education (Special Education) and a postgraduate qualification in Gifted Education from Monash University and is very comfortable chatting about the individual needs of all students K – 12. Such is the diverse range of skills that Southern Hills Christian College has now inherited from its new Head of Primary!

Laurelle studied a Bachelor of Arts (Education) and a Bachelor of Education at Deakin University before teaching at Heathdale Christian College in Werribee in Melbourne’s western-most suburbs. Her six years there saw her as a classroom teacher and as the Co-ordinator of the school’s Gifted & Talented Program. Further studies in Special Education saw her knowledge of teaching and learning grow even more before Western Australia came calling – in a very unusual way.

“My husband was working in Information Technology, and we both were very secure in our lives and in our church,” says Laurelle.

“There was a feeling that perhaps God was calling us somewhere else – despite having a great church, employment, friendship group and  overall a very enjoyable life.”

“God showed us what to do when my husband’s employer closed their business. We saw this as an opportunity to explore Australia and thought ‘what better time than now? When we arrived in Perth, the first six months were interesting trying to find jobs, a church and new life, Perth is quite different to Melbourne’s life. But we stayed and love calling WA home.”

Six months after arriving, the opportunity to take on a role in leadership in a new church in Perth (‘Without Walls’, North Perth) while starting a young family offered Laurelle the chance to grow in event management and establish a ‘church family’ while taking a break from the classroom.

With her children starting school at South Coast Baptist College (SCBC) in Waikiki, the College spotted Laurelle’s educational skills and asked her to come and work there.  Her nine years in SCBC included roles as a Primary Teacher, Assistant Principal (Acting), Head of Curriculum K-6 and Deputy Head of Primary. This led to a call up from Alta-1 to become a Regional Principal with responsibility across five campuses across the south metro of Perth, in a CARE (Curriculum And Re-engagement in Education) school environment.

Three years later, Laurelle is ready for her latest challenge – Southern Hills Christian College – as the College grows in numbers past the all-time high of 450 students on campus.

“By working together, we can meet the shared responsibility of ensuring effective care and high-quality education of every student, through the provision of a safe, effective and holistic learning environment.

We want our students to be lifelong learners, realising that their goals and aspirations can be attained through their own efforts and determination, in collaboration with others, so they can flourish at school and beyond!”

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