The annual QUT Outstanding Alumni Awards recognise outstanding graduates of the university (and predecessor institutions), who have displayed exceptional professional, academic or research achievements and contributions to the community.
Ms Walsh started her career as a classroom teacher at Lockyer District State High School in Gatton, before completing a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at QUT in 1984.
Her career has since progressed to include such roles as head of department, deputy principal and principal at various schools throughout Queensland. She has also served on numerous education boards.
Today Ms Walsh is principal at Centenary Heights State School in Toowoomba with responsibility for more than 1600 students across three campuses.
In addition to its mainstream campus, the school also has a vocational TAFE program which delivers trade training and accreditation to students completing their Queensland Certificate of Education.
Centenary Heights’ third campus is an award-winning Flexi School (capped at 70 students), which caters to at-risk young people who have become disenfranchised with mainstream education.
With the core belief that every child deserves an education, the Flexi School embodies this mantra by catering to children who might not otherwise complete high school.
When Ms Walsh joined Centenary Heights, the Flexi School had a poor reputation among the community and was seen as a place for students who “couldn’t cope” with mainstream education.
Ms Walsh challenged this view and was determined to promote alternative education and connect with students so they felt valued for their success. She argues that students need to see that the community accepts the concept and supports them.
She has cultivated links with the local council, Rotary and other agencies, with many members belonging to Friends of Flexi, a group formed to support the school.
Ms Walsh has also been instrumental in developing a Memorandum of Understanding between USQ and Flexi, which led to a research program for developing alternative education frameworks.
Her other roles include overseeing the development of an inter-generational mentoring program involving TOMNET (Toowoomba Older Men’s Network), which was awarded the National Australia Bank’s Schools First Award for Community Partnership.
Outside of the classroom, Ms Walsh is a member of many community organisations including YWCA Queensland Programs Innovation Working Group and the Queensland Police Community Consultation Group.
She is an active volunteer, received the Paul Harris Fellowship Award from Rotary International for services to the community, and was named one of Queensland’s 50 top thinkers for her responsibility as facilitator for the education and development of 1350 students.
Ms Walsh is a member of numerous professional teaching organisations and a fellow of the Australian Council of Education Leaders.
Sandra Hutchinson, QUT Media, 07 3138 9449 (Tue/Wed) or email@example.com
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