Mel Scherwitzel has been appointed as the new principal of St Catherine's Catholic College.
Mel Scherwitzel has been appointed as the new principal of St Catherine's Catholic College. Claudia Alp

St Catherine's Catholic College welcomes new principal

STUDENTS and staff at St Catherine's Catholic College welcomed a new school year on Tuesday, but also a new principal.

Mel Scherwitzel succeeded outgoing principal Sharyn Bell, bringing 30 years of education experience to the role.

Having moved to the Whitsundays from South Australia, Mrs Scherwitzel said the college's values attracted her to the school.

"I love Catholic education and the mission of the church that is in our schools. From a coastal rural community, there's a real sense of togetherness up here which really appeals to me," she said.

"You don't tend to get that from city schools."

Mrs Scherwitzel completed a long tenure as deputy principal as well as acting principal at St Paul's College, an all-boy's school in Gilles Plains, SA.

She also held multiple leadership roles in curriculum and classroom care across all aspects of schooling, Prep to Year 12.

Among her plans for the college, Mrs Scherwitzel said she hoped to work with staff and students to unite the college following the closure of the Mercy Campus (Prep to Year 3) last December.

"I think the first thing we need to do is establish ourself as one Prep to Year 12 college," she said.

"We want to try and increase our enrolments at the school by providing a variety of pathways for students so they know they've got numerous options post-compulsory education.

"From a school perspective, we want to be present in the broader community and find ways we can work with parents so that they feel like they are a part of this community."

Mrs Scherwitzel emphasised the importance of continuing to develop staff and maintain the college's student-focus.

"Our sole purpose is the students. They are the heart of the school. It's paramount that what we do is all about the students and with that, we must have a commitment to providing quality education by well-skilled and expert teachers," she said.

"Professional development of staff is crucial so we know that staff are equipped with the skills to better prepare our students to be independent, inspirational and active agents of change in our rapidly changing world."

While she is looking forward to working with staff and students at the college, Mrs Scherwitzel said she missed her family, home in South Australia.

Her son Alexander Scherwitzel, 23, is doing his graduate year in nursing specialising in cardiac and critical care while her daughter Stefanie Scherwitzel, 21, is an elite swimmer on a scholarship in North Carolina, US.

Mrs Scherwitzel's husband Harry Scherwitzel also remained in South Australia due to his work as a police officer.

"I miss my husband and children terribly, but I come with their blessings," she said.

"The community's been wonderful in welcoming me."