Maria Azzopardi is a psychologist and she works at VMCH specialist school, St Paul’s College.
She says that an important part of her role is helping people understand the importance of setting high expectations of students and then supporting them to reach those goals.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
My role here at St Paul’s is to teach children to identify, verbalise and express their emotions in a socially appropriate manner as well as assist them in learning the appropriate social skills required for social interaction.
Additionally, my role is to educate and train staff, of the emotional needs of the students and how they are attempting to express themselves and how they can assist in teaching social and emotional development.
What was your previous role before you joined St Paul’s College?
I have worked in private practice for the last 6 years with neurotypical and special needs children and worked in adult psychiatry prior to that. I have been practicing 12 years and have a range of experience with clients across the lifespan and with a range of mental health/neurodevelopmental issues.
What do you like about working at St Paul’s College?
Being part of a broader allied health team and being able to monitor strategies regularly to ensure effectiveness.
What do you enjoy about working with school children?
Being able to take a proactive approach to improve their mental health in the future.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
Seeing students become proficient in handling their emotional state and interact effectively with the world around them.
What is the biggest challenge?
Shifting people’s perspectives about how much more capable our students are on a social and emotional levels with the right supports in place.
What is your future wish for the people you support at St Paul’s College?
To be able to express their needs and emotions successfully to anyone they come in contact with throughout their lives and to be able to regulate their emotions independently.
What does inclusion look like to you?
Treating everyone equally and respectfully, and always being mindful that regardless of the disability everyone has the same basic human rights and the right to exercise those rights for themselves.
What does diversity look like to you?
A place where uniqueness is celebrated and where everyone can support each other’s strengths whilst helping them improve their weaknesses in a respectful and inclusive way.
St Paul’s College made the exciting move to a modern and purpose-built school in Balwyn this year.