It’s all happening at Bundy Primary

Given all the pomp and pageantry that generally surrounds school principals, meeting Sarah Whitwam feels like a breath of fresh air.

As the doyenne of Bundalaguah Primary School, she has endeavoured to make herself accessible and approachable to the rural community, to the point where even pupils refer to her by first name – which she encourages.

“I guess it seems a bit informal, but it’s that sense of connection that I want to get with them,” Sarah explained.

“It kind of fits nicely for me.”

Sarah was appointed principal of “Bundy” just last year, having previously served as head of the senior unit at Maffra Secondary College.

Coming from an environment where she mostly taught adolescents, the transition to her new role was a tricky one, but also an experience that “reenergised” her.

Sarah Whitwam with Bundy Primary students Amelie (Grade 6) and Sebastion (Grade 1).
Photo: Tom Parry

“Coming to the primary school, was a bit of a joy, actually,” Sarah said.

“The kids were… just open to lots of positivity and open to opportunities to learn through play.

“I could suddenly come back and go, ‘Okay, this is a focus, and our focus is these kids having a positive experience of learning’ – finding moments where they can actually engage in a way that stimulates them.”

Sarah cites the positive workplace environment as another reason she enjoys working at Bundalaguah.

“I like the collegial support of a small team, where we can really throw it all on the table, tease out the ideas and build solutions together,” she said.

“That’s quite exciting.”

And there is yet more excitement to come.

This October, Bundalaguah Primary School will be marking its 150th anniversary with a two-day commemorative event for pupils past and present, the preparations for which have already begun.

Grade 1 students Sailor, Amalia and Madalyn look through a Bundalaguah photo album with Sarah Whitwam.
Photo: Tom Parry

Sarah herself is spearheading those plans, with bold visions for an “oral library” featuring older alumni.

“Leading up to (the anniversary), the students are going to do a bit of work with some older people, coming into the classroom and talking about their experience,” Sarah said.

Her hope is to have said alumni “be available just for chats, rather than standing up and hearing the long history of everyone’s perspective.”

It’s a proposal Sarah likens to “borrowing a living book.”

Among the other proposals put forward are an afternoon tea, display of archival photographs, and the retrieval of a time capsule belonging to Myrtlebank Primary School, which merged with Bundalaguah in 1993.

In the immediate future though, Bundalaguah will be hosting an event planning session for the 150th anniversary, which families and ex-students are being invited to attend.

The session will take place on Thursday, June 9 at 2pm.

Anybody wishing to participate in the session is encouraged to send an e-mail to bundalaguah.ps@education.vic.gov.au

Sarah Whitwam stands with the former Myrtlebank Primary School sign.
Photo: Tom Parry