The Glennie School has welcomed a new principal for 2017; Kim Cohan brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in girls’ education.

Her position was finalised in July last year, following previous principal Wendy Ashley-Cooper’s retirement.

“I had visited the school a couple of times, and fell in love with it the moment I arrived. There’s a feeling in the air here; it’s a really nurturing and positive environment. And I guess that was something that really appealed to me. I’m very passionate about girls’ education,” Kim says.

“The tagline of the Glennie School is ‘All She Can Be’, and I just love that. That’s exactly what girls’ education is all about. It’s about touching on every aspect; intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional, and cultural.”

Kim relocated from Brisbane for the role; she was previously the Deputy Principal at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls’ School.

“I’m qualified in maths, geography, physics and chemistry, but I’ve generally been a maths teacher all along. I’m originally from South Africa, and we’ve been in Brisbane for the last 11 years.

When we moved to Australia we moved directly to Brisbane, and I worked at Brisbane Girls Grammar School for five years, where I was a Maths teacher and a head of house. I went from there to Assistant Principal of Student Wellbeing at Lourdes Hill College, also in Brisbane. And after three years I transferred to St Margaret’s, and I was there for three years, as well.”

Besides boasting an impressive educational history, Kim’s evident passion for girls’ education shines as she describes her key principles in teaching. Her first is instilling a ‘growth mindset’ in students; inspiring and encouraging them to believe that their talents and abilities are not fixed.

“So instead of having a mindset where you think, ‘Well, this is how intelligent I am, this is my IQ, and this is how good I am at something’, I believe in encouraging that you can develop anything with practice and perseverance. It does take hard work, and sometimes girls believe that if they’ve got to put in an effort, it means they’re not that clever, but that’s obviously not the case. If they say, ‘I can’t do it’, I always say, ‘Add ‘yet’ onto the end of that sentence. I can’t do it yet,’” Kim explains.

She also emphasises the importance of developing deep and critical thinkers; providing students with skills that they can transfer into any context.

“You would have read and maybe written about how most of the jobs that we’re in now won’t exist in 20 years’ time, and we’re preparing students for jobs that don’t exist. And of course, that’s true,” she says.

“But we still need to make sure the girls have got the skills to take on any job, whether it exists or not, so that they can really use the content and the knowledge as a vehicle to develop those abilities.”

As a principal, Kim believes it’s most important to be a positive role model, and to listen to the entire school community.

“Be prepared to take risks, if things don’t work out, show them how you learn and develop from that, and inspire the school as a whole to live by the values of the school, so that they’re not just things we talk about, they’re things that we live and breathe,” she states.

“And also, listen to ideas, from students, from staff, and let them run from those ideas, see where it takes them. I believe the only way a school can run successfully is to be a connected and thriving environment.”

Banner image: Principal Kim Cohen