A passion for teaching and an incredible desire to help children achieve their dreams has earned Lee Musumeci a place on the 2020 Australia Day Honours list.
The Challis Community Primary School principal was recently awarded the Public Service Medal for her outstanding service to early childhood education in Western Australia.
The modest teacher said she felt humbled by the recognition.
“I am just proud to be one representative of the Education Department in WA, just one of many colleagues who are doing outstanding things in their own schools,” she said.
“No one is in this kind of position for the acknowledgement and for the awards, that is not why people go into education.
“Education is such an important platform and it shapes our future so the more you can have education in the front and centre of conversations and acknowledgement I think it keeps the focus where it needs to be.”
Among many of Mrs Musumeci’s achievements at the Seville Grove-based school is the success of the Role Models and Leaders Australia program, a program that develops Aboriginal girls academies in high schools throughout the country.
Challis Community Primary is the only primary school in Australia currently offering the program, which this year will include a total of 27 students from years four to six.
“The students take part in their classes as normal but after lunch each day they do additional curriculum units that are focused around their health and wellbeing, spirituality, cultural awareness and their cultural roots and their aspirational thinking and goal setting,” she said.
“It helps them to see themselves differently within the community and it helps them to understand that if we can really build their aspirational thinking they can be a journalist, they can be a teacher, they can be whatever it is they would like to be but it takes hard work.”
Mrs Musumeci said for as long as she can remember she has always wanted to be a teacher and admits she found her calling working with children with disabilities.
“I had a strong sense of social justice from a very young age and I remember being outraged by inequities and the unfairness that some people were born into,” she said.
“I was also fascinated with the way the brain works for children who have a disability.
“I found that to be such a challenge because the way I would normally present information to a group of children who don’t have a disability doesn’t work for children who have a disability and think in a different way.
“It is a constant puzzle in how I can assist this student to understand the skill that they are trying to develop.”
Looking to the future, Mrs Musumeci hopes to continue to develop the school’s ‘womb to the workplace’ strategy to assist students from birth right the way through to gaining employment.
She also hopes to continue to work with other neighbouring schools such as Neerigen Brook Primary and Armadale Senior High to help the students of tomorrow become the very best they can be.
Mrs Musumeci was also inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019.