It’s been 100 days since my family and I moved from Sydney down to St Hilda’s and I’m more certain than ever that this was the best decision I’ve made in my career so far. It wasn’t an easy call to pack up 15 years of connections, friends and local life but we’re so pleased that we’re here now. St Hilda’s has been a warm, welcoming and supportive college that genuinely cares about everyone here, staff and students alike. It has been a pleasure to get to know many of the students so far and to begin to work alongside some inspiring and enthusiastic staff members, albeit our time has been cut somewhat shorter than planned by the unpredictability of COVID-19!

It’s a nervous thing to join a new community. To try and find your way within an established culture is a challenging prospect. A lot rides on the willingness and helpfulness of others to support your transition in to a new space and my first impressions of my new home have been greatly exceeded! This is clearly a place that prides itself on excellence but hasn’t (and never will, I am certain) forgot how to enjoy itself and create an amazing sense of community along the way. I am inspired every day as I hear about many of our high achieving students who have countless hidden talents. The devastation shared by all of us as covid-19 saw many return to their homes is a strong indication of the respect and strong connection that each and every student has with this college and with each other and I cannot wait to continue to build and improve on this in the coming years. 

A major highlight for me so far has been the opportunity to work with the new team of Resident Advisors (RAs). This role is not an easy one, requiring a unique skill balance of pastoral care provider and friendship builder. The inaugural team has already set the bar high as an excellent example of student leaders who care deeply about their fellow residents. I am excited to help roll out their platform of new ideas for innovative competitions and community building activities in semester 2. I am passionate about student wellbeing and am excited to gather feedback on our program this year with plans to develop a sustainable pastoral care strategy for the college to implement from 2021 onward. 

It has also been very exciting for me to look ahead at what is a busy activities calendar developed by the GC. I’m sure it’s been frustrating for many of them to have their events paused for semester 1 but I can testify to the amount of hard work they have put in (and are continuing to put in) to make sure that semester 2 is bigger and better than ever before when we can welcome all of our residents back in person. I can’t wait to experience the sporting dominance that Hilda’s has exhibited over many years and look forward to celebrating many flags with the teams this year. 

James Head shot

It has also become clear to me that Hilda’s is a leader in academic support. The team of residential tutors are an incredibly capable and diverse team of educators that dedicate themselves to supporting our residents through their studies. It has been a personal highlight to get to know many of them and to understand their area of study. From aerospace to literature, there’s never a dull moment in the Senior Common Room and I am grateful for the team who have embraced their role as tutors as well as mentors and supporters with open arms. The academic program is something that we are always looking to improve and on my radar for the coming 12 months is a review of our physical resources such as the library, tute rooms and subject specific needs (e.g. design, performance and music).

Finally, I have had the pleasure of implementing a new employability program at Hilda’s this year. Building on the innovation of our principal, we have engaged an expert (Josh Farr) in all things job-readiness to inspire our students and get them ready for the workforce. It’s no secret that employers are looking for more than just a degree and the landscape of recruitment is becoming more and more complicated and competitive. It has been refreshing to work with someone as enthusiastic and talented as Josh who is running weekly workshops and spending one-on-one time with students to build their skills, resumes and business ideas. One of my core objectives for this year is to refine this program and build it in to something that we can run each and every year as an amazing additional resource and offer for all of our students. 

Thank you to all for welcoming me, particularly the senior leadership team who have been a source of advice and knowledge as I navigate my way through life in a new college!

James Tute