Bell Park principal praised for visionary leadership

December 11, 2023 BY

Nelson Park School principal, Libby Gatgens (right), receiving her award for Outstanding Principal from Bank First chief executive, Michelle Bagnall. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

THE principal of a school in Bell Park has been commended for her visionary leadership with an award for Outstanding Principal at a specialist school.

Libby Gatgens was recognised last month for her achievements working with the students at Nelson Park School and as a mentor to fellow principals by the Principals’ Association of Specialist Schools (PASS).

The PASS Awards were established in 2012 and celebrate exceptional staff expertise in specialist schools.

Finalists for each of the awards’ 10 categories are nominated by their peers and colleagues, with the winners in each category receiving $500 to put towards their professional development.

The judges declared Ms Gatgens a “worthy recipient” of the outstanding principal award, citing her outreach to teachers and principals across the state and her “unwavering commitment to active community involvement”.

“This outreach has resulted in increased community support and participation in our educational initiatives and events, reinforcing our organisation’s bonds with the broader community,” the judges said.

“Libby’s advocacy has left a lasting mark on local educational policies, particularly in the realm of special education, enrolment, and transportation for regional specialist schools.

“Her dedication to shaping these policies has contributed significantly the improvement of educational services and opportunities for students in our region.”

Within Nelson Park School, Ms Gatgens has been instrumental in the design and modernisation of new purpose-built facilities at the school’s main campus.

To create an optimal learning environment for Nelson Park School’s students, Ms Gatgens “tirelessly collaborated” with architects and educators to create a space that would inspire both students and teachers.

The judges felt these innovations had helped to “redefined education” at the school.

“Drawing from her extensive experience and insights in Special Education, Libby ensured that each classroom would be a versatile haven for active learning, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, flexible furniture arrangements, and abundant natural light.”

Hosting students from prep to year 12, Nelson Park School is a special school for students diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability.

The school boasts 300 student enrolments and a passionate staff of 100 who work to individually tailor educational programs to meet the diverse needs of each student.

“Libby has played a pivotal role in inviting educators from across the network and region to explore the school’s new facilities, fostering stronger connections between our communities and schools,” the judges said.

“Her dedicated efforts encourage and facilitate dialogue and collaboration, with the aim of aligning our resources and expertise with educational goals, ultimately benefitting all students.”