A change of leadership is bringing fresh ideas to a school that celebrates innovation.
A new principal with a wealth of international experience continues to build Preshil’s progressive reputation and its commitment to developing creative and independent thinkers.
Josh Brody, the recently appointed principal, spent his first few weeks at Preshil immersing himself in the classroom and the lessons, getting to know the dedicated team of teachers, playing basketball with the students and talking to them about their experiences of the school so far.
Brody arrived at Preshil after spending almost 20 years as head of Sequoyah, a progressive school in the US city of Pasadena, California. During his time at Sequoyah, Brody founded its high school division.
Before Sequoyah, he worked as a teacher and principal in Nepal and founded and led an education project in the country’s remote high-mountain areas.
But it is his experience in the US that most closely aligns with his current role at Preshil.
“Sequoyah had mixed age-group classrooms and a lot of project-based and hands-on learning,” Brody says. “We thought a lot about how to cultivate creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking with our students.
“We also thought a lot about diversity, equity and inclusion and ways in which you can create an environment so students and families can bring their whole selves to their experience in school. We wanted school to be inclusive and a place where students learned from each other.
“In high school, we started an innovation program where students explored issues like social justice and environmental sustainability that were relevant globally and in Los Angeles.
“We took students into the community and brought in people from local government, businesses and not-for-profits so students could explore different ways in which they could participate in solving those issues.”
Preshil’s position as the oldest progressive school in Australia drew Brody and his family to Melbourne.
“Preshil’s rich history in progressive education interested me – a lot of good work precedes me but I hope I have something to contribute as Preshil continues to grow,” he says.
An element of Preshil new to Brody is the International Baccalaureate. Its mission statement says the program “aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect and encourages students across the world “to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right”.
Brody feels this aligns perfectly with Preshil’s commitment to developing the independence and creativity of each of its students in a way that respects their individuality and their goals, interests and capacities.
“The IB is a sophisticated curriculum that supports students to understand who they are in the world, to follow their passions, to figure out a role they can play and how they can make a contribution to the world. It aligns well with the core values of Preshil,” he says.
As he familiarises himself with the school community, Brody is keen to add further value to the student’s experience. “I’d like to build on the work we can do related to social innovation. I helped build that program in my previous school and I’m excited to see what it looks like in Preshil,” he says.
“I’d like to create a social innovation program that helps students to engage in issues beyond the school, to be problem solvers and to feel empowered to make a difference.
“When students leave Preshil I hope they are comfortable with who they are, that they have felt accepted and nurtured, that they understand that learning is a lifelong process and they look for ways in which they can contribute to their community and society.”