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At first glance, one may be surprised to find a collection of superhero figurines adorning the desk of Trish Allen, Head of Junior High. However, spending your days working with teenagers often requires being in touch with your inner superpowers.

Head of Junior High at St Peters Indooroopilly since 2010, Trish relishes the opportunity and responsibility to provide leadership and a nurturing environment for her staff, students and parents.

Prior to starting at St Peters, she was Deputy Principal – Curriculum, at Concordia Lutheran College in Toowoomba.

‘I came to St Peters in a teaching role in 2009 and in 2010, I was fortunate to become Head of Junior High,’ Trish explained.

On a daily basis, Trish is responsible for the wellbeing of her staff and students who comprise the Junior High cohort of Years 7–9, and as Trish explained, the Junior High sub school structure offers many benefits for this specific age group in terms of resources, teaching staff and programs that provide a high level of care for each cohort.

‘Years 7–9 are foundational years for High School, so it’s really important to have that place of nurturing across the Junior High,’ Trish said.

‘It’s quite natural for them to start finding their independence,’ Trish explained and added:

‘Our role is to provide strong guidance, clear boundaries and offer support so our students can develop confidence in themselves, set goals for the future, and know there are people around them who want them to achieve and succeed.’

Trish said another benefit of the Junior High structure at St Peters is the specific focus on each cohort as the students progress through the adolescent years.

‘The Year 7s have been a real blessing. They are just so energetic. There is that level of energy and excitement that they bring to the table, and having a small group of core teachers provides support during this transition year,’ Trish said.

A highlight for the Year 8 cohort each year is the Kaleidoscope production, which offers students the opportunity to develop their musical and dramatic skills under the guidance of arts professionals and be part of a stage work created especially for them. Due to her own love of performing, Kaleidoscope is especially dear to Trish’s heart.

‘I used to do a lot of performing,’ Trish explained. ‘I specialised in drama and music at university and have directed many school musicals and plays, including Kaleidoscope for three years.’

Trish said there is also a real focus on developing leadership within the Year 8 cohort as they prepare for greater responsibilities in Year 9. The addition of a week-long Year 8 camp this year is big part of this focus.

‘We want to make sure we have clear stepping stones for them as we head into some of the responsibilities of leadership and the compulsory five-week Ironbark experience in Year 9.’

In spite of the obvious challenges that come with nurturing emerging adolescents, Trish is abundant in her praise for her staff and the students.

‘I’m surrounded by great people,’ Trish said emphatically.

‘We have a phenomenal team of staff in Junior High. They make it an absolute pleasure to come to work.’

She also finds humour in the sometimes blissful innocence of students, often when it is least expected.

‘Our students are not immune to all the social challenges within our society and yet, sometimes they’ll come out with something that is innocent and pure. It just makes you giggle and think how nice it is that there’s still innocence in the world.’

Work aside, Trish enjoys winding down with a good movie, home improvement TV and has recently discovered her inner green thumb.

‘I am developing a real love of gardening,’ Trish said, smiling.

‘I’m really enjoying watching things grow. I have a lemon tree and a lime tree that are doing really well and I grew cherry tomatoes for the first time this year. I’m really loving having a vegetable garden.’

While she enjoys her interests away from work, Trish said one of the best things about St Peters is the sense of community and the enthusiastic greeting she receives from students when she arrives for work.

‘I can be walking up the hill where I’ve parked the car and I am greeted by lovely smiles from the students saying hello and asking me about my weekend. You don’t get that at every workplace,’ Trish said.

‘It’s really nice to feel like you’re on the journey with these young people and their families. It’s worth all the hard work!’

St Peters Lutheran College is a Prep to Year 12 Co-educational Private Christian School in the Brisbane Region. For more information about St Peters or to contact the St Peters College Reception, click here.