Primary school principal honoured for work with disadvantaged children

Curtin University has acknowledged a local primary school principal’s leadership and impact on children’s lives, with a prestigious Honorary Doctorate.

Lee Musumeci has led Challis Community Primary School in Armadale for the past 19 years and implemented a range of innovative programs to ensure the best possible results for students – many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Understanding the importance of a child’s early years on brain development, Ms Musumeci established a child parent centre at the school to ensure children aged 0 to 4 years were given opportunities to develop the key skills needed to successfully start primary school.

This has included a long-running partnership with Curtin, which has seen many speech pathology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and social work students undertake field placements at the school.

Ms Musumeci has introduced a suite of other community support initiatives including a nationally awarded music program, an in-school Parent Employment Service and an Aboriginal Girls Academy.

Ms Musumeci’s efforts extend beyond the school grounds and into the broader community; she sits on the Steering Committee for the Armadale Youth Intervention Partnership, has established partnerships with philanthropic organisations such as the Minderoo Foundation and met with the Governor of Western Australia to advocate for children in low socio-economic areas.

Ms Musumeci received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne, adding to an impressive list of previous accolades including being named a Western Australian of the Year finalist, Australian Primary Principal of the Year and induction to the WA Women’s Hall of Fame.

“Curtin is proud to present Ms Musumeci with this Honorary Doctorate in recognition of her many years of passionate, intelligent and courageous leadership,” Professor Hayne said.

“Honorary Doctorates are presented to people who have gone above and beyond in their field and made an exceptional contribution to society; Ms Musumeci’s refusal to accept pre-determined outcomes for her school community has helped many students achieve results well above what many would have thought possible.

“We are excited to continue our successful partnership with Ms Musumeci which benefits students from Curtin and Challis Community Primary School and the broader Armadale community.”

Department of Education Director General Lisa Rodgers said the achievement was well-deserved.

“For the past 19 years as principal of Challis Community Primary School, Lee has worked with expertise and dedication to provide the best opportunities for children,” Ms Rodgers said.

“I commend her leadership in the development of high-impact teaching across the school and for generations, and for supporting families in building educationally powerful relationships that set their children up for success.

“With the best interests of children always at the forefront of her decisions, Lee continues to help improve their lives through education – congratulations Lee.”

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