Interview – Elissa Brinckman

Deputy Principal – Elissa Brinckman

What do you consider the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?

Every day is rewarding. This is my 19th year working in the field of specialist education and no two days are the same. In January 2017, the doors of The Sycamore School opened. I started in December 2016 with a blank slate and in a very short period of time, worked to build the foundations of The Sycamore School Curriculum and staff training programs to ensure that there was consistency across the school. Our then Principal and I also set about to build a culture within the school that I am very proud of. Being a DP is a very busy and demanding role and its I like spinning plates while juggling most of the time, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges. In fact, the challenges only make the rewards even greater.


If people were considering working as a Deputy Principal in a specialist educational setting what advice would you give them?

Take the time to connect and to build relationships and rapport with the kids, their families and their staff. Without connection, you have no foundation in which to manage and support your community. You must also be organised, flexible and willing to support your community.


What qualifications or experience is required to become a Deputy Principal?

I have a Bachelor of Education and 19 years of experience in the field. I left University and went straight to London for 6 years. The experience gained during those years really set me up. I then returned and have been in ASD specific settings ever since.


What path did you take to become a Deputy Principal?

I have been in leadership positions (SENCo, Lead Teacher, Team Leader) for about 15 years. Having various leadership roles, whilst working with great leaders and mentors, helped me build the skills and confidence to take on the role of DP.


Were there any other careers you considered pursuing when you left school?

Psychology…but as it turns out, I am partially fulfilling that interest in my role as I work a lot supporting families, young people and staff when they need some counsel.


Is this your first career? Can you see yourself remaining in this line of work forever?

Yes, teaching is my first and last career. Well, apart from working at McDonalds when I was 15 and a perfume shop whilst at University. I can’t see myself in any other profession. I absolutely love working with the kids, and their families too. Seeing them build confidence, friendships and independence is the most incredible part of my job.


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a teacher. I had a little school set up in my house when I was young and the neighbours were my students.


What are your standard hours?

We officially work from 8-4pm, but that never happens!


Is there anything you can tell us about your job that people wouldn’t expect?

Wellbeing is a top priority….you cant pour from an empty cup. As a leader, I always advocate to staff to ensure they balance work with life and family and take care of themselves. We offer 2 circuit sessions per week at the school and encourage staff to leave on time. We also make sure we have a lot of laughs…in fact, one of the items on our daily briefing agenda is ‘something light’. I also like to show the staff a lot of appreciation for their hard work an dedication…this may just be a small note or a token or some encouraging words, but it goes a long way. They truly deserve it!