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Ex-private school principal backs changes to public school system

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Susan Moench retired from Mount Saint Agnes Academy after 14 years as principal of the school (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

A retired principal of a private school backed the Government’s plans to shake up the public education system – but said the scheme had to be supported by good resources and teacher training.

Sue Moench, who retired from Mount St Agnes Academy, a Catholic secondary school, last August, said: “The public education system reforms are well defined and have the potential of positioning our Bermudian students favourably in terms of their careers and future goals.

“Delivering on the reforms will require a commitment to change, investment in resources, professional development of teachers, and facility enhancements.”

Ms Moench, a teacher for 41 years, said that the public and private sectors both had their benefits and drawbacks.

But she added: “The key factor is to ensure our Bermudian children are given equal opportunity to obtain quality education.”

Ms Moench said: “Children are our most precious resource – they are our future. We must provide for them in an environment that fosters their success and meets their individual learning needs, whatever that might look like.

“We, as educators, must nurture in our students the desire to be critical thinkers, analytical people and decision-makers so they may embrace the challenges presented to them in our every changing world.

“Students need to prepare themselves to be successful citizens, parents, employees, innovators, and leaders in the 21st century.”

She said the pandemic, which had forced creative solutions to solve problems fast, had underlined the need to foster adaptability in pupils.

Sue Moench, the former principal at MSA, with pupils (Photograph supplied)

Ms Moench added: “Students need to learn from experiences so they can access information to solve real-world problems.

“The quick transition to remote learning has changed the classroom for ever. Access to technology is no longer a luxury, but a requirement. The future of learning is beyond the classroom.

“Students need to be given experiences that challenge them to be risk takers and to seize opportunities. The role of the teacher must also adapt to meet the changes experienced in the ‘anywhere/anytime’ classroom.”

Ms Moench spent 14 years in charge at MSA, the school she attended before she left in 1972 to go to university in Nova Scotia, Canada.

She said one of her proudest achievements was the adoption of an internationally approved curriculum at MSA in 2009 and leading the school through the process.

The school set up a relationship with Alberta Education in Canada with the aim of becoming an Alberta accredited international school, which was achieved in 2013.

Sue Moench has her head shaved to raise money for cancer research for the Terry Fox Foundation. Her husband Ken Moench, left, died of cancer in 2007. (Photograph supplied)

Ms Moench added: “This process involved collaborating with teachers to learn the new curriculum and adapt to change, educating parents on the benefits of the curriculum, and challenging students to adjust to the new learning and teaching strategies.”

She said: “It gives me great satisfaction to know our MSA students graduate with an international accredited high school diploma and get into their postsecondary programmes of choice whether it be at college, university, or the workforce. They are prepared and ready for their journey into the next stage of their lives.”

Ms Moench said the later stages of her career had involved the major challenge of tackling the coronavirus crisis.

She admitted: “Certainly, the pandemic and moving a school into remote learning within 24 hours is the greatest recent challenge and the most notable.”

Ms Moench said she planned to devote more time to reading for pleasure, enjoying the outdoors, completing her travel bucket list and learning new crafts in retirement.

She added: “I have always enjoyed working with children so in the future I will continue to embrace opportunities that make a difference in the lives of children and youth.”

Ms Moench graduated in 1976 from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax with business and education degrees.

She taught business in a postsecondary vocational school and pursued a Master’s degree in vocational education and school administration at the University of Alberta, Canada.

Ms Moench became vice-principal of a junior high school in 1992 and later at a junior/senior high school.

Her first principal’s post was at Medicine Hat High School in Alberta in 1997.

Ms Moench returned to Bermuda after her husband Ken died in 2007 and was appointed principal at MSA the same year.

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Published January 26, 2022 at 7:53 am (Updated January 26, 2022 at 7:54 am)

Ex-private school principal backs changes to public school system

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