Dr. Perso joined Mundaring Christian College as the college’s Director of Teaching and Learning, at the start of this school year.
Bringing extensive experience to SCEA, Dr. Perso has over 35 years of experience in education. She commenced her career as a secondary teacher of Mathematics, completed a Master’s degree while teaching and was awarded an Australian Government scholarship to complete her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education.
Dr. Perso subsequently served as the K-12 Senior Curriculum Officer Mathematics for the WA Department of Education and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate Indigenous numeracy in New Zealand and Canada before working interstate in various Director and Executive Director roles at the Education Departments of ACT, Queensland, and Northern Territory.
She has published over 30 books for teachers, delivered hundreds of presentations for school leaders and teachers, both around Australia and Internationally, and was President of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers. She was a member of the Prime Minister’s Numeracy Review Panel in 2008, and is a life member of the Mathematics Association of Western Australia.
“Despite all that, I first and foremost consider myself a teacher”, she said. “I am driven to improve learning for children and young people so joining SCEA was a calling. I felt God telling me that it was time to put what I know into practice.”
Since joining Mundaring Christian College staff, her focus has been on two key areas, Teacher Quality and Assessment.
“Every teacher at Mundaring Christian College is a member of an established Professional Learning Team,” she said. “In our meetings to date we have worked on how to read achievement data, how to help students understand the genre of NAPLAN and how to write good assessment tasks.”
“Good assessment - assessment which focuses not on the teaching but on the learning the children should have - drives good teaching”, said Dr. Perso. “We are using improved assessment to raise student results across the school.”
The school has introduced an external standard, Bloom’s Taxonomy, to help understand learning quality as required by the Australian Government to underpin the A-E grading system. For items of assessment, students receive a ‘rubric’, which specifies exactly what they need to do to achieve a specific grade.
“Bringing in this national standard, means we are transparent and explicit about our grades. It removes any subjectivity and gives a clear expectation for students, parents and teachers alike”, Dr. Perso added.
“My job here at Mundaring Christian College has been easy because the teachers are so willing”, she said. “I jokingly say that I feel like I am working in heaven because I’m working with people who really want the best for the kids.”
Dr. Perso is available to help other SCEA schools implement similar practices and can be contacted on email: Thelma.firstname.lastname@example.org or via 9295 2688