Meet our Staff

Meet a selection of our dedicated staff who want nothing but the best for your daughter.

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Kath McGuigan

Principal

I was born in Glasgow, Scotland and being the eldest of six children I think I always wanted to be a teacher because I loved school. I loved reading and learning. My siblings might disagree and say it was because I was opinionated and bossy! My father loved numbers and finance and my mother loved drama and reading. I was lucky enough to inherit these loves from both of them. My parents were also great dancers; this gift was not passed on to me.

I attended Glasgow University and studied Physics and Mathematics. When I graduated I then attended Teacher’s College for Post Graduate Studies in Education. I taught in Glasgow for four years before immigrating with my husband and young son to Australia. We wanted a change in lifestyle and more sunshine. I then taught Mathematics at Santa Sabina College and John Paul 2 Senior High before moving to Adelaide in 1992.

In 1999 I was appointed Science Coordinator at Cardijn College and in 2004 was appointed Deputy Principal.  I was attracted to the position at the Catholic Education Office which assisted schools to implement the New SACE as it allowed me to visit all of the Catholic secondary schools in the state and work with school leadership teams and teachers.

In 2011 I began as Principal of Mary MacKillop College. I love being the Principal of a girls’ school. I like being able to think of the many ways that we can make the College a better place for students and staff.  School improvement and change management are two of my focus areas. In particular I love the history and tradition that comes with Mary MacKillop College; the ongoing ministries of the Sisters of St Joseph and the legacy of Mary MacKillop.

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Helen Steele

Deputy Principal

“You should be a teacher!” These five words came to me from the Principal of St Therese Catholic Primary School Colonel Light Gardens where I began my working life in Parish Youth Work. They were five words I had never considered but I soon found myself pondering the idea and with the encouragement and support of the other staff at the school, I enrolled in a Diploma of Education at Magill SACAE.

I took up my first teaching position at Mary MacKillop Memorial School in Penola where I was nurtured as a young teacher by the Sisters of St Joseph. Since that time I have taken up many posts and transitioned into the secondary world through Sacred Heart College Middle School and Cardijn College. I have continued a love of learning, having completed a Bachelor of Education, Masters of Educational Leadership and am currently a PhD student with Curtin University.

Since joining Mary MacKillop College I have learned what makes a girls’ school unique; laughter, confidence, potential. I am particularly interested in the middle years of learning and development, taking delight in watching girls transform into young women of clarity and conviction. Those five words; “You should be a teacher,” they changed my life and shaped my future of which I am grateful for every day.

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Cathy Swain

Director of Curriculum

Teaching and learning has always interested me, and I've wanted to be a teacher since I was a young child. I have worked in schools my whole career and have found recently that developing engaging and creative curriculum and exploring new pedagogical methods is my passion in education.

This led me to the Director of Curriculum role at Mary MacKillop College and I am excited everyday by the wonderful opportunities our staff offer the students in teaching and learning. We live in times of rapid change, socially, educationally and technological, and I am privileged to work with dedicated teachers who take on board new ideas or curriculum and shape it to suit our students, their needs and their learning styles.

As a teacher it is so gratifying when a student achieves that "aha" moment, when all their learning comes together and they can see the connections to their life and their world. Teaching young women to become creative and collaborative learners who understand their place in the world and to lead the teachers and learning in this school, in the footsteps of Mary MacKillop, is my aim, and from this develop an educational community of like minded and life long learners. 

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Rosette de los Reyes

Director of Business and Finance

For as long as I can remember, my motivation has always been to have a variety of experiences.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that prior to coming to Mary MacKillop College, my education and professional work took me from Asia, to the United States, then to Australia.  I worked in audit, tax, business services, consulting and advertising, and along the way had some of the most unforgettable moments in my life. This included taking helicopter/twin-engine plane rides to reach clients, being in an open pit mine and feeling the earth shake when the dynamite exploded, actually seeing gold being smelted, and working in the Silicon Valley and meeting some of the most brilliant IT minds in the world.

Coming to the College was born out my desire to do something completely different from the Chartered Accountancy profession, although my two daughters will jokingly argue that was not the case.  Just like any young children, they felt a sense of pride if they could see me working in the Canteen.  So when this role came up they thought it was a nice substitute.

I am truly privileged to be part of the Mary MacKillop College community where everyone is warmly welcomed, valued, appreciated and supported.  I am given this opportunity to use my professional training, skills and varied experiences to manage and improve the resources of the College, for the provision of an enriching education for girls, the way St Mary of the Cross MacKillop envisioned it to be.

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Ida Parente

Year 8 Pastoral Care Coordinator (Class of 1984)

In my role as Year 8 Pastoral Care Coordinator I have the privilege of accompanying girls as they transition from the primary years to a high school setting. I delight in watching each girl accept new challenges, embrace new experiences and set out to achieve personal goals.

Throughout my 30 years in education, I have seen many changes for women in society and I am passionate about ensuring our girls are equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and wisdom to live life as women of confidence. I take every opportunity to listen and work with the girls, providing opportunities for them to take on leadership roles so that they can build positive relationships with others in the school and wider community.

As a past student myself, I enjoy meeting other old scholars who visit the College, now as mothers, keen for their own daughters to have that same positive and nurturing experience at Mary MacKillop College that we did.

I have always been very passionate about engaging Year 8 students in their learning and self-development. It is in these years that the foundation is laid and a secure spring board is set for success in the years to come. I draw on the values of respect, hard work and integrity in my work with your daughters as I support them in their endeavours as learners, explorers and contributors in a world of opportunity.

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Lauren Sutton

Year 9 Pastoral Care Coordinator

Imagine a young child who just wants to know why and how something works, a child who loves trying and playing every sport and a child who could not sit still no matter how hard her parents tried. That was me. With a love for discovery, sport and an inability to remain still, becoming a Physical Education Teacher seemed like the perfect profession for me.

Having been teaching now for five years, nothing makes me smile more than seeing one of our students attempt and succeed in something she has been working towards. The sense of relief and pride on their face is incredible.

Equal to my passion and commitment for all things sport is my belief in girls’ education in the Catholic setting. Having been educated at Siena College, an all girls’ school, I was encouraged and challenged to be my best self. This has further strengthened my belief in girls’ education.

The experiences that I was lucky enough to have are what I want to bring to MacKillop. As Year 9 Pastoral Care Coordinator I am passionate about developing resilience in our girls so that they can continue to grow in confidence and self-belief, to speak the truth, take risks and contribute to the greater good of the community.

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Laura Abarno

Year 10 Pastoral Care Coordinator (Class of 2002)

As a child, I loved school.  So much so, that my mother would threaten not to take me if I did not make my bed and put the breakfast dishes in the sink every morning.  It worked.

I think I first knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was in Year 3.  Although I did not realise at the time, my teacher Mrs Burns, would be the one teacher to have the greatest impact on me.  She was strict, I will admit that, but she pushed me to perform at my best like no one else.  I knew my 4 times tables forwards and backwards – what an achievement that was for me! 

My high school experience was no different.  As a student at Mary MacKillop College I was provided with many opportunities and became part of a nurturing community. I truly felt privileged to return to the College when I officially commenced as a teacher in 2008.  Still today I am presented with opportunities.  The most special being the opportunity to coordinate a cohort of Year 10 students who challenge, yet inspire me every day.

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Jeanene Corbo

Year 11 Pastoral Care Coordinator

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a teacher. My first opportunity to teach was in a Josephite school, Caritas College in Port Augusta. While I was there, I got to know and love many of the Sisters of St Joseph and their caring ways. After a few years in the country, I returned to Adelaide and began teaching at Mt Carmel College, another school with a Josephite tradition. It was here that I discovered my passion for leadership in pastoral care. The extra care that I could share with students in a Pastoral Care Coordinator’s role became an integral part of my career.

I have continued my passion working with Sisters of St Joseph at Mary MacKillop College with continuing leadership roles in pastoral care. It is my strong belief that happy students learn well. I aim to build strong relationships between the girls and their teachers by providing a learning environment in which the girls feel valued and care for each other, and where our Catholic and Josephite ethos are in harmony with the culture of our College, shaping positive relationships within our community.

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Miescha Archibald

Year 12 Pastoral Care Coordinator

I remember walking in through the gates of Mary MacKillop College as a graduate teacher, nervous about my first day as an educator and staff member at this place in which many had described to me as “a hidden gem”. Five years later, the nerves have gone, but the overwhelming sense of community, care, fun and a staff who love to teach and help their students learn still well and truly remain.

Having worked across the College in my roles as Year 11 Pastoral Care Coordinator and teacher, I have experienced the many aspects of College life, come to know our students well, and what makes being a MacKillop girl so unique. A student at Mary MacKillop College is a young woman who is courageous, compassionate, enthusiastic, and endeavours to challenge herself and those around her in meaningful ways, reaching her full academic potential. To enable this, I aim to support our students through both my teaching and coordination of Year 11, facilitating a Pastoral Care Program that supports students in their transition through the College, helping to support the development of these young women, to take their place as leaders in both the Mary MacKillop College community and beyond. 

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Cathy Buttignol

College Counsellor (Class of 1986)

Mary MacKillop College aligns with my values of living authentically. I sit in a humbled position in my role as College Counsellor, as I walk alongside young people confronted with life’s challenges, trials and tribulations. My teaching career of Mathematics, English and Religious Education spans 20 plus years, where I have also held positions of responsibility within Mary MacKillop College, as Coordinator for the Middle School years. I hold a Bachelor in Education, a Master’s Degree in Social Science in Counselling and I am a Professional Member of the Counselling Association of South Australia. I am also mum of two teens – I think that counts for something!

My therapeutic work is fuelled by a profound desire to empower young women to find their voice, to celebrate their individuality and to face the fears that may be immobilising them so they may give their life purpose. I sprinkle all this with glitters of hope and fun. Alice’s words from Alice in Wonderland ring true, ‘I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then.’

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Gavin Hughes

Head of Music

My music career began as a Brass Instrumental Teacher almost 30 years ago, where tutoring at a variety of schools and gaining exposure to different music programs helped to shape my overall music teaching philosophy. My classroom music career commenced 20 years ago and similarly, I gained a wide variety of experiences in Catholic, Independent and DECS schools. I draw from this wealth of experience to create rich and varied music educational experiences for students and combine this with a healthy mix of rigour and humour. Needless to say, I know what works and where to best channel my resources to create a vibrant music program.

Music transformed my life and it is my hope that I can also share and help facilitate a similar transformation in my students. I have found that success in music can be found in the most surprising places and from sometimes the least obvious students. This is really encouraging for any beginning student as anyone has the potential to be successful in music: it comes down to effort, commitment, passion, perseverance and honest evaluation. Music is a life-long adventure that I am passionate about and I have the absolute pleasure of having my favourite pastime, my career.

I love teaching at Mary MacKillop College and I unashamedly have plans of grandeur for music at the College. It is my hope that the students have every opportunity to engage in the Music curriculum and experience success in their area of interest. My broad musical tastes enable me to accept all styles of music and I am continually learning new things in music technology. Having a daughter myself, I have a special interest in girls’ education and strive to establish equal opportunity and removal of gender based assumptions in regards to musical choices.

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Tom Porta

Inclusive Education Coordinator

I have always been the biggest advocate for those in Inclusive Education, making sure all students receive the right to inclusion and enrichment to promote the success of all learners.

My passion began with my cousin Kate, who was born with multiple disabilities. It was from her I gained my love of helping people and developed a passion to teach. During my university years, I worked as a School Services Officer in Learning Support for four years at Hamilton Secondary College in their mainstream and Disability Unit schools. Here I assisted teachers to prepare appropriate work, as well as helping students to learn to their full potential. I then became a Special Education Teacher at their Disability Unit, teaching students with high to severe intellectual and physical disabilities. This was in conjunction with working at Westminster School in assisting teachers in differentiation of their curriculum and further supporting students. I ran the Gifted Education Program to further extend the minds of young adolescents.  

In 2015 I started and completed my Graduate Certificate in Special Education and I am now working towards a Masters Degree in this field.

I feel honoured that I can work as the Coordinator of Inclusive Education at Mary MacKillop College, whereby I can support these young women who inspire me to be the best teacher I can.