THE new headteacher of Gibraltar’s Westside School pledged to ‘provide a nurturing environment’ for its 1300-plus pupils as she took over from her long-serving predecessor.
The Department of Education chose Dr Sonia Montiel Lopez from various applicants to replace Michelle Barabich who is retiring after a 43-year-long career.
Montiel Lopez will now guide the school toward further co-education after Barabich started the process when Westside School moved to its current new premises.
Westside shares a courtyard with Bayside School that together educate all children older than 12-years-old.
Montiel Lopez will now manage over 220 members of staff at Westside School after getting her spurs as headteacher of St Bernard’s Lower Primary School.
“Education is a transformative journey,” Montiel Lopez said. “Our duty as educators is to inspire, challenge and uplift every child who walks through our doors.
“Together with dedicated staff, engaged parents and thewider community, we will continue to provide a nurturing environment that fosters growth, resilience and a deep sense of belonging by recognising every child’s unique strengths.”
Gibraltar’s Chief Secretary Darren Grech welcomed her to the new role saying he had no doubt her hard work, range of experience and holistic approach to learning would benefit Westside School students.
Grech also thanked the outgoing headteacher Barabich who he said had done ‘admirably’.
“It is difficult to steer a complex organisation with multiple interdependent parts, such as Westside,” he added.
And Barabich reflected on the ‘pleasure and privilege’ of working for four decades as a teacher.
“I hope that I have facilitated the educational pathway of our learners and empowered them to believe in themselves and achieve their personal best,” she added.
Finally, Director of Education Keri Scott thanked Barabich and a whole group of senior teachers that were retiring more or less at the same time.
“We recognise that they leave behind a legacy, having invested so much of their professional lives to our vocational service,” Scott said.
“We also recognise that where there is change, there is opportunity, and we are certain that Westside School will continue to go from strength to strength in its provision for the young people.”
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