Director Profile: Isabella Mistry

Isabella Mistry joined the staff of St Columba Anglican School in Term 4 2018 as the Director of Performing Arts. Isabella moved to Port Macquarie from Sydney, and is married with four children. We asked Isabella about her passion for the performing arts.

At the young age of five, my parents placed me in violin lessons and together with free form dancing to the ABBA Arrival album in our lounge room, my love of the performing arts quickly grew and has become a large part of shaping who I am today. When I was in Year 8, Drama was a new subject in my school. I had an inspiring teacher, Julia Homfray, who promoted creativity and innovation in the classroom allowing us to bring to the drama class a range of other disciplines through which to examine the world. My teacher made our classroom a place to wonder, inquire and reimagine our world to make it a better place. My teacher inspired me, she empowered me to be an independent learner and nurtured creativity and innovation. In her Drama classroom She empowered me to want to empower students to do the same one day.

I began my tertiary journey with studies in Dance at UNSW. After this I continued my study of Performing Arts at Theatre Nepean (University of Western Sydney) where I completed a Bachelor in Theatre Performance. I then embarked on a rich eight-year journey as a professional performer in collaborative site-specific theatre companies, a variety of theatre, dance and vocal performances, and Australian television. But my passion for teaching drew me back to complete a Bachelor of Teaching in Dance, Drama and Music.

I have extensive teaching experience in all areas of the Performing Arts (Dance, Drama, Music and Music Theatre). My teaching career has seen me install dance as an elective subject in two Sydney secondary schools. When building cocurricular performing arts programs at one of the schools, I saw an increasing need to shift the delivery of the curriculum through a more integrated multidisciplinary approach, where subjects are taken of their silo delivery. I wanted to design a multidisciplinary performing arts classroom that was able to link explicitly to aspects of other key learning areas in the NSW Curriculum. My interest was in designing a classroom that empowered students to inquire and reimagine their world.

I completed a Master in Applied Theatre Studies and my area of research was developing an effective and portable framework to deliver a multidisciplinary classroom that delivered chosen aspects of the curriculum and fostered creativity and nurtured the development of emotional intelligence in young minds to ready them for a world outside the classroom.

This year at SCAS I am leading the Primary Performing Arts Hour. With a dynamic team of performing arts teachers we are giving our young students the opportunity to engage in multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary learning experiences that will link performing arts with concepts and issues in the English, Science and History curriculum.

This year, we are fortunate to have an Associate Professor from Newcastle University, Dr Christine Hatton, on board with us in Term 1. Dr Hatton will lead a transdisciplinary project-based learning initiative with our Year 5 cohort. This transdisciplinary approach to education provides a deeper learning experience by cross pollination of subjects to provide a more real-world experience in the classroom. Dr Hatton’s current research includes a focus on designing transdisciplinary learning programs for Primary students. Year 5 will examine the plight of migratory birds from the Hunter and Hastings regions. Through the engagement of students as expert scientists, historians and journalists, students will examine the care of the planet and its inhabitants, sustainability, and the notion of migration and the impact on birds. At the end of the project there will be an opportunity to share the project with families and friends.

Here at St Columba Anglican School, I am strongly committed to leading and developing a shared vision of providing authentic learning experiences for student to develop skills in creativity and innovation, and developing innovative learning community-based projects that recognise and celebrate the diversity of cultures and the arts in the spirit of the Christian Faith in the Anglican Tradition.

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