Dr Thelma Perso, Director of Teaching and Learning, at Mundaring Christian College (in 2017) and Chief Education Officer at SCEA (from 2018), has had an extensive range of experience in education over many years.
In September this year, she was invited to speak on the Politics of Educational Leadership at the World Education Conference in Dalian, China. The conference was held during the September school holidays, and it was organised to mark the birth of Confucius on 28 September, 551 B.C.. – over fifteen hundred years ago.
Delegates from all over the world attended the conference. Topics and forums included Leadership in Education, International Collaborations and Innovations, Higher Education, Early Childhood Education, Digital Education, and Health Education. Dr Perso led the Leadership in Education Forum, which comprised of eight speakers.
“It was a fascinating and rewarding experience”, Dr Perso said. “To be invited to be part of what was, in effect, a world symposium to discuss and hear about what is happening in education around the world was a real privilege”.
Dr Perso’s invitation resulted from a paper she had written for inclusion in a book for a national and international audience, on system-wide intervention strategies for raising literacy and numeracy achievement levels of minority students. This paper came out of the work she undertook in Central and Northern Australia, and Queensland. She led curriculum for the Education Department in Queensland, and a Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce for the Northern Territory Government while based in Alice Springs and then Darwin.
The paper she wrote outlined the complexities of improving the achievement of Indigenous Australians, including working with a broad range of agencies; government (State and Federal), NGOs, Human Rights Organisations, Schools, Health, and the communities that the children come from. All of this occurred under intense media scrutiny.
“The audience for my presentation came from diverse countries around that world. Many of the questions asked at the end indicated that the issues and challenges of addressing educational improvements for minority children are the same, everywhere. It shouldn’t have surprised me since I researched ‘what works’ internationally to develop the strategy I developed.”
Dr Perso had a calling to ‘give back’ when she finished in the Northern Territory and has served the Lord at Mundaring Christian College for three years during its addition of Years 11 and 12 to the new campus in Parkerville.