Annamaria Zuffo – Principal

Annamaria Zuffo

Congratulations on your appointment as Principal of the school in Throsby. What interested you in this position?

I feel privileged to be the Foundation Principal of the new school in Throsby. I have always been interested in the idea of creating a welcoming and innovative school for children, staff and families. The opportunity to create a positive culture and dynamic learning environment with the community to establish a modern Preschool to Year 6 (P-6) school is very exciting.

What do you hope to achieve as the school’s foundation principal?

A safe, happy place for learning for students, staff and families will be the culture of Throsby School.

I will work collaboratively with the school community to establish and deliver a strong vision of academic rigour, a framework for genuine inclusion, and a culture of curiosity.  Students will leave Throsby with the skills to pursue their endeavours in the short and long term.

High expectations and achievement for all students, regardless of their background, learning needs and circumstances, is central to my motivation as founding Principal of Throsby School.  Strong connections with self, each other and the land are central to our students reaching their social, emotional and academic potential.

You’ve been in school leadership for the past 18 years. Tell us a bit about your career journey.

I have been a teacher and school leader for 26 years in the ACT Education Directorate. I trained at the University of Sydney, in the last intake year of the Sydney Teachers’ College course, and then at University of Canberra.  I began my teaching career at Fraser Primary School.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a teacher and educational leader in several ACT schools working with children, staff and communities.

One of my passions in education is learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and I have pursued further study in this area.  I am looking forward to learning about the local land and people around Throsby.

Most recently, I was the Principal of Lyneham Primary School for 9 years. This gave me wonderful opportunities to lead students, staff the community to develop a positive culture, welcoming and inclusive for all. I leave behind a dedicated team who will continue to have an impact on the learning of Lyneham’s students.

What has been the highlight so far?

I’ve always looked for places that have presented me with opportunities to build positive relationships, innovate, creatively solve problems and collaborate with fabulous people. I have been very fortunate to have worked with some outstanding professionals and wonderful children and young people.

What do you enjoy most about being a Principal?

Developing relationships and connecting with people is the best part of the job!  Bringing a team together to collaborate on a strong vision is another enjoyable and important part of being a principal.  I love seeing the results of this collaboration when learning with children and adults.  Education is the single most important part in a child’s life. Teaching is such an incredible privilege and the best vocation in the universe!  Leading a school as the principal is a huge responsibility and a job that I take very seriously.

What inspired you to teach?

My Kindergarten teacher Miss Rath, my year 2 teacher Miss Wansbone and my year 12 Modern History teacher Mr Turnbull.  Amazing teachers who went above and beyond! I have long been an advocate for social justice and teaching combines these pursuits.

Who inspires you now?

I am inspired by pioneers who work tirelessly towards positive outcomes. Amazing women leaders like Ruth Bader Ginsburg-US Supreme Court Justice, Michelle Obama-Former First Lady of the USA, Malala Yousafzai-Activist, Rosie Batty, Julia Banks and Jacinda Ardern are inspirations to me. Similarly, educational and global leaders who continue to motivate educators and inspire real change inspire me. I have been very fortunate to learn from, and work with, some outstanding leaders like Patrick Lencioni, Kath Murdoch, Adam Voigt, Simon Sinek and Sir Ken Robinson.  We need to keep thinking about learning for our students and keep striving for best approaches for each child to achieve their potential.  My Mum, Ursula and my niece and nephew, Sofia and Luke also inspire me every day!

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

Pursue what makes you happy!  For our students, yourself and for our world!  Thinking about the small things that you enjoy, helps you flourish as a person, and as a human being!  Teaching and leading is one of my pursuits of happiness!

The other important lesson I have learnt as an educational leader is building trust; trust between students, staff and families.  Trust enables the culture of a school to develop in a positive way, and this leads to improving students’ social, emotional and academic skills and learning. “Leaders earn trust by caring about the personal and professional lives of their staff.” (Robinson:  2011)

What was your first job?

Working in a chemist in Manly, NSW where I grew up!

How would other people describe you and how would you describe yourself?

People have described me as passionate, bubbly and loyal. I have high expectations of myself and others, am fiercely dedicated to my job and I love teaching and leading in schools.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I have been very fortunate to have worked with and learned from some inspiring mentors who have given me lots of great advice over the years.  Asserting your beliefs and turning these beliefs into actions, and “staying the course” is advice that has always served me well.