Paula Calafiore – South Gippsland Citizen of the Year for 2018
For most teachers, summer holidays are a time to kick back a little, but not for Paula Calafiore, Prep and Italian teacher at Mirboo North Primary School. While she does have more time to spend with family and friends, she continues to work away in the community, not least because she is one of the busy committee members who run the Mirboo North Italian Festa in early February. This is a fabulous family friendly event which celebrates the Italian culture and heritage in our community – see related article to find out more.
She did however return to work along with all of our school aged children this week, and she explained her love of early childhood education to Kelly McCarthy, who interviewed her for a recent profile article in Coast Magazine:
“It’s a personal preference, but I think prep is the most rewarding. Every year is so different, it’s a different group of kids that you’ve got to get to know, they’ve got different backgrounds and different entry levels that they bring to you, all these little personalities that you’ve got to get to know and understand, and try to make connections to work out what makes them tick, and how you’re going to tap into that.”
As many local parents can attest, Miss Calafiore builds strong relationships with these children as she smooths their transition into formal education, relationships which remain strong as they move on through the school. In addition, Paula supports younger staff as the lead teacher in Prep – Grade 2, and runs numerous clubs and activities for students outside of class hours, not least the very popular ‘Mirboo North’s got talent’. This lunchtime talent show is open to all students and is a fantastic opportunity for them to build confidence in themselves, their voices and their dance moves…
Beyond school and the Italian Festa, Paula is a key member of the Chaplaincy Committee which raises funds to ensure the on-going services of a Chaplain at the Mirboo North schools; she organises the Debutante Ball for the Mirboo North Football Netball Club, she is the MC for the opening of the Mirboo North Art Show, the Primary School’s largest fundraiser; she is on the committee of the Artspace and also Arty Gras. Together with Mary Baker and a committed team, she also organises iconic fundraising events for the Mirboo North Swimming Pool, including the annual Mirboo North Idol, Movie Night and Australia Day celebrations.
In all of these activities you can clearly see the common thread, a passion for providing young people with opportunities – never let it be said that young people in this community will be held back due to their rural geographical location.
We can’t sum it up any better than Kelly McCarthy, in the conclusion of her article for Coast Magazine:
“A connection to people and place is something that clearly drives Paula to invest in the community, she explains, ‘There’s opportunities for everybody to get out there and get involved, but the thing that’s going to drive you is your passion. You know, I’m not going to be one of those people out there changing the world and finding cures for cancer and all that. I’ll never be one of those people, but through your connections and your passion, that’s where you can make a difference.’”
Time, energy and talent for the good of others – what a great role model.
Many congratulations, Paula, we are very lucky to have you in our community.