Anne Feneley
(McFadzean, 1957)

Alumnae Award: Social Welfare and Impact

Anne Feneley (formerly Mulcahy) dedicated her life to teaching, leadership and championing the cause of indigenous students and young people less fortunate.

She attended MLC School for her primary and secondary education completing her Leaving Certificate in 1957. She then trained as an Infants teacher at Sydney Teachers College and commenced teaching at Moree at the age of 18.

Following her training at All Saints Missionary College, Anne taught at the Methodist Aboriginal Mission on Milingimbi Island in Arnhem Land. The children did not speak English and, at times, there was only one other teacher in the school. Anne was required to contribute her South Australian Department of education salary to The Mission, retaining only five pounds for her personal use. This experience was the start of Anne’s love of indigenous education.

On returning to Sydney, Anne chose to teach in the rapidly developing areas of metropolitan western Sydney where she worked mainly with children from non-English speaking backgrounds. She created her own learning materials and her books, designed to assist reading for Aboriginal Children, which were widely acclaimed. In these books, she used scenes of the local topography around Walgett such as the houses, parks and the Barwon River, to help motivate her students.

She was one of the first four Infants Mistresses to be promoted to a large primary school as Principal. Anne was Principal of Glenorie Primary School in Sydney and then later of Quakers Hill Primary School where she remained until her retirement in 2006.

Anne was, and still is, passionate about educational opportunities for the less fortunate. She initiated and coordinated the development of the Blacktown Learning Community in 1995 and secured no less than 10 successful educational grants for programs that specifically targeted indigenous children. She also developed learning programs between schools in the Seven Hills and Blacktown inspectorates for talented children that still thrive 27 years later.

Anne received the Minister for Education’s Award for Excellence for her educational work in these programs. The Principal of Quaker’s Hill Public School, Bert Lo Campo, says of Anne:
‘Anne Feneley made an extraordinary contribution to educational leadership; fuelled by passion, purpose and positivity. One of the truly remarkable things about Anne’s leadership, was her ability to inspire others to dream big, to have a voice and to make a difference. The Blacktown Learning Community remains as a legacy of Anne’s innate ability to see the leadership potential in people and to work with them through transformational leadership programs and initiatives. As an educational leader, she was ahead of her time – intelligent, inspirational, transformational and a truly visionary leader.’

Reflections

What would you say are your three proudest achievements?

  1. To know that I have upheld my parents and my extended families’ Christian values, standards and ethics to the best of my ability. My mother was a proud Old Girl of MLC School with daughters, granddaughters and also a great-granddaughter attending the School.
  2. To know that I have influenced and assisted some of the teachers and children in my care to achieve their goals in life.
  3. To be one of four of the first female Infants Mistresses in the state to their able to become principal of a large primary school

How did an MLC School education play a role in your life?

The ethos of MLC School demonstrated to me the need to think of others less fortunate than myself. MLC School instilled a religious education, core values and a set of beliefs which have guided me throughout my life and career, I have tried, and still try, 'to walk as a daughter of the light'.