Former Principals

Jon Charlton

Principal from 2008 – 2021

Jon has a rich history of working with young people in schools, on the street, and in church.

Early in his career as a teacher, he worked at Elwood College as Student Welfare Coordinator. Following that, he fulfilled the roles of Chaplain, Counsellor and Daily Organiser at Kilvington Girls’ Grammar. In late 1999, Jon was appointed Head of Middle School at Kingswood College. While at the College, he led the development of an experiential City Campus for Year 9 students.

From 2003-2007, Jon held the role of Deputy Head (Pastoral Care) at St Michael’s Grammar School in St Kilda. During this time, his expertise in pastoral care had a deep impact, as well as his talent for school operations.

In 2008, Jon returned to Kilvington Grammar as Principal where he was instrumental in the decision to move to a co-ed school after a 90 year history as a girls’ school. He then spearheaded the School’s successful transition which resulted in considerable enrolment number increases and the thriving school it is today.

danmcneillDan McNeill OAM

Principal from 2006 – 2008

Dan McNeill is a former member of AHISA in Tasmania, having been Head of St Michael’s Collegiate from 1983 – 2003. Dan took up his position at Kilvington Girls’ Grammar at the start of 2006, and said of his learning philosophy, ‘Show me a girl who is fully involved in the life of Kilvington and I will show you a girl who is achieving academically.’

His philosophy was one of a welcoming school, ‘a place where students will not get lost in a sea of faces, kilometres of corridors and a continuum of classrooms that create the perception of education factories rather than pleasant schools.’


judithpotterJudith Potter

Principal from 2001 – 2005

Judith Potter was Principal at Kilvington from 2001 – 2005. During this time, she was involved in many important initiatives which are still part of our School today.

One of Ms Potter’s most successful moves was to oversee the renewal of Kilvington’s new Music Centre, which is a highlight of our School today. On the night of its opening, Ms Potter made the following remarks:

‘Music has been a key strength at Kilvington for decades; it is a part of the air we breathe. 2005 marks a new era in Music at Kilvington and I congratulate Mr Kieran Casey for leading the Music Department strongly forward as he shares his vision, one that is coloured so vividly with his passion for music, his technical excellence and his belief that music is open and accessible to all. I thank all members of the Music Department who have so willingly given of self and expertise to foster the talent and enjoyment of our students.’

Another of Ms Potter’s initiatives, with the help of Peter Woolfrey, was the updating and beautification of the sports areas, the garden areas, the resurfacing of the tennis courts and the creation of the garden in front of the Music School (for Senior School students) and the paved area on the side of the Music School (for staff). The space in front of the Canteen was also transformed into a welcoming environment, more conducive to recreation and learning.


diflemingDi Fleming

Principal from 1994 – 2001

Ms Fleming began her time at Kilvington in Term 4, 1993, and immediately set about modernising the School’s facilities.

One of her first moves was to implement laptop computers for Years 7 – 12 at the beginning of 1994, making Kilvington one of the first laptop schools in Australia. This was just one of a number of Kilvington’s technological firsts that took place under Ms Fleming’s leadership. Following the unprecedented success of Kilvington’s laptop program, Ms Fleming was flown to Tokyo by the Toshiba Corporation in 1995 to discuss how to make their machines more education-friendly.

Kilvington also became one of the Beta-testing sites for the ‘Schools Net’ program, which was dedicated to successfully integrating the internet into schools. Later in Ms Fleming’s tenure, Kilvington also became Australia’s first wireless school. Ms Fleming also played a decisive role in the ‘Any Time, Any Where Learning’ program, which evaluated computer-based learning practices.

Ms Fleming helped Kilvington form alliances with several strategic business partners, including the National Australia Bank, Festo (a robotics company), Microsoft and Toshiba.

Many other initiatives were also pioneered by Ms Fleming. For example, she was one of the instigators of the highly successful Girls Sport Victoria, which now encompasses many schools around the State. She also modernised Kilvington’s language program by commencing Japanese classes in 1994.

Ms Fleming took an extremely proactive role in regard to infrastructure, and Kilvington’s facilities – particularly the Junior and Middle Schools – were significantly updated and expanded during her time at Kilvington.

Another of Ms Fleming’s notable achievements was her decision to include the colours of navy blue and magenta in Kilvington’s uniform, a change which proved to be extremely popular among students.


warrenstoneWarren Stone

Principal from 1974 – 1993

Warren Stone was Kilvington’s first male Principal, filling this role from 1974 – 1993.

A firm supporter of the Arts, Mr Stone encouraged the Music and English departments to produce the school first-ever musical in 1975, Gilbert & Sullivan’s H M S Pinafore. The remarkable success of this production led to a cherished tradition of Kilvington musicals which continues to this day. Mr Stone was also a strong supporter and promoter of Kilvington concerts, which were performed at Robert Blackwood Hall.

Under Mr Stone’s guidance, Kilvington enjoyed a burgeoning reputation as a fine girls’ school. Facilities were expanded and improved during his tenure: buildings were renovated and modernised, Dalton Hall was completed and the current Senior School was built, among other achievements.

Religious Education formed a large part of the Kilvington curriculum under Mr Stone. The students received an Assembly book with responsive readings, hymns and prayers. Kilvington attended annual Church services with Strathcona and Carey at this time, and benefited from its strong connection with the Baptist Union.

Mr Stone has a very close family, and his wife was responsible for writing the Religious Education curriculum used in State primary schools at the time. A firm believer in the importance of a good work-life balance, he advised staff to set aside time for family, which he believed should be sacrosanct.

In Assembly, Mr Stone was famous for terrifying ‘talkers’ with his famous saying, ‘I’ll see you in my office after Assembly. You know who I mean.’ However, he was always extremely supportive of staff and students: each year at Kilvington was concluded by a staff-student match, in which he was always an enthusiastic participant.


robertamckieRoberta McKie

Principal from 1949 – 1973

Roberta McKie was Principal of Kilvington for twenty-five years, over a quarter of the School’s lifetime. Her contribution to the reputation of Kilvington as a caring school, academically strong and based on Christian values, was significant and still stands today.

Before her appointment as Principal, Mrs McKie was a missionary in India, returning to Australia due to the medical needs of her young son.

In 1949, Kilvington had a total of 220 pupils and was situated on the corner of Walsh Street and Katandra Road. Mrs McKie faced the formidable challenge of developing the Senior School to a standard that would enable official registration. This meant considerable curriculum and infrastructure developments, including a library and science laboratory. At this time, most girls left Kilvington to complete their final years of education at a registered school that would be recognised by universities. Encouraging students to stay on while the School developed an official capacity was a considerable challenge, but one that Mrs McKie met with fortitude and courage.

Land was purchased on the current site, which was previously Ormond Plant Farm. Extensive building was completed, along with a library and science laboratory. Kilvington Baptist Girls’ Grammar was opened in 1955, the same year Mrs McKie realised her dream when the School was granted full Secondary registration.

Students and staff alike respected Mrs McKie. She was a devout Christian, sensitive to others’ needs but also decisive and firm. She took a keen interest in the careers the girls would follow. On one occasion, an academically talented girl with a gift for science and mathematics announced she was going to work in a ‘Poodle Parlour’, to which Mrs McKie replied, ‘You’re not, you know. You are going to university to do a science degree!’ This the girl subsequently did.


Mabel Ross

Principal from 1944 – 1948

Mrs Mabel Ross worked at Ruyton prior to joining Kilvington. She was Headmistress for four years, and was a popular leader. Enrolments doubled from 95 pupils to 200 during this time. In 1944, Mrs Barrett, who had always wished to ensure the future of Kilvington as a Church school, approached her own Church, the Church of England, to take over the School.

This was not at the time deemed viable, but the local Baptist Minister, Rev W C Collard, was convinced of the need for a denominational school in the area. The Baptist Union took control of Kilvington in 1948, and in 1949 appointed a Baptist Principal, Mrs Roberta McKie.


Florence Muriel Fysh

Principal from 1934 – 1943

Miss Fysh joined Kilvington after eleven years at Rosbercon Girls’ Grammar School. Prior to this, she had taught at Lindula Girls’ High School in Devonport, Tasmania, and Queen’s College, Maryborough. Miss L Bury, who had taught with Miss Fysh at Rosbercon, accompanied her to Kilvington.

Miss Fysh worked to raise the profile of academic studies, and was committed to the education of girls. She remained abreast of current educational practices and trends, and was the first Principal to introduce ‘Honour Prizes’ for pupils who gained 70 per cent in at least six subjects in all their tests. Miss Fysh also acknowledged that not all girls would be inclined to pursue academic examinations; however, she stressed the importance of encouraging them to pursue their best in ‘practical’ work.

True to the School motto, Miss Fysh was keen to ensure the girls were involved in activities that would help others in need. A former pupil describes her as a wise and loving lady with a rare gift for imparting knowledge. Learning how to learn was part of her philosophy, and Miss Fysh was well known for saying, ‘I can show you how to learn, the rest is up to you.’

The philosophy imbued by Miss Fysh was that it is not enough to talk about something, you must go out and do it. Past pupil Keera Cameron believes that the most important thing that Miss Fysh taught was involvement. Alongside this was the philosophy that you must stand up for what you believe in and trust and love one another.

Miss Fysh recognised and valued the uniqueness of each of her students, and worked to ensure that the education offered provided academic, practical, personal, cocurricular, spiritual and social service strands. Over 65 years after Miss Fysh concluded her work as Principal, we can recognise her wisdom and her great contribution to the journey of this very special School.

Miss Fysh’s spirit and philosophy of the all-encompassing nature of education, focused on the individual, is one that stands strong and true today.


caroline_profileCaroline Barrett

Principal from 1923 – 1943

Constance Barrett and her mother, Caroline Barrett, founded Kilvington in 1923. Establishing a school at any time would be incredibly difficult, but the odds of its success would seem to have been insurmountable considering the economy at the time and the family’s lack of wealth. Constance and her mother’s vision, energy and commitment made this dream a reality.

In 1922, Constance answered an advertisement to tutor a group of children in Ormond. The advertisement was placed by Mrs Phyllis Fethers, after whom the house Fethers is named. Local parents wanted to start a school for their children, but because Constance wasn’t a registered teacher, she convinced her mother, Caroline Barrett, who was sixty at the time, to establish a school of her own in Ormond.

This had been a lifelong dream of Caroline’s and, despite being sixty years of age, she took up the challenge. In 1923 the Ormond Girls’ School was established in the Church of England Parish Hall in Ormond.

The original number of enrolments was 13, two of whom were boys. Over the next five years the numbers quickly grew and the school was forced to move to larger premises to accommodate the growth. It soon became evident that a permanent site was required.

At the age of twenty-one, Constance bought land for £500 and was able to negotiate a bank loan for £2,200 to build a school – a remarkable feat, considering that it was then extremely rare for women to be granted a loan. The amount Constance was able to borrow is even more remarkable, considering she was young, single and living in uncertain economic times: by today’s standards, £2,200 converts to approximately $1 million.

In 1929 the School was renamed ‘Kilvington Girls’ Grammar’ and opened at the Walsh Street site on 18 May. The students were asked to submit designs for a badge and consulted about a school motto. Constance was responsible for the resulting design of the crest and hatband. Both Constance and Caroline developed the School motto, with Constance choosing the Chevron – the symbol of service – as part of the logo.

In her opening speech, Caroline addressed the parents, saying: “the school should not be looked upon merely as a machine for grinding out knowledge but to mould and build the character of the girls and teach them that honour and truth should come first in their lives.”

The school steadily grew in popularity and even during the early Depression years enrolments were still increasing. Many other private schools at the time were looking to the churches to buy them as denominational schools. 1932 was a landmark year for Kilvington when the first three students completed their intermediate studies. 1932 also saw the first issue of Kilvington’s yearbook, The Kilvonian. By 1934 Caroline’s health was fading and she passed the reins of the school to the capable hands of Miss Muriel Fysh.

Caroline and Constance Barrett were certainly women of character. They were dedicated to the education of girls and possessed great strength of spirit – two qualities that have been evident through every decade of Kilvington’s growth, qualities that have helped form our character as a school.