Podcasts for Parents is a discussion about current educational issues in Australia. Each episode is essentially an interview with a guest speaker who typically has in-depth knowledge about the topic that they are discussing.

The podcasts are designed to support anyone who is parenting or for people with an interest in current educational issues.

Podcasts for Parents is hosted by Norma Cooper, Year Three Teacher at Mount Carmel College. Thank you to Dave McNamara for music composition, Caitlin Moffatt for graphic design and Jim Parish at Print Radio Tasmania, Davey Street Hobart, for assistance with the recording of the podcasts. 

For more information, suggested reading and to hear the Podcast, please click on the name or photo of the guest speaker.


Norma spoke to Dave Wierenga, on of the Year 6 teachers at Mount Carmel College.

Dave has been a member of the Mount Carmel community since 2016, teaching in the upper Primary classes. He is passionate about Integrated Learning, Sustainability, and building a community of Makers (rather than Consumers). He is keen to investigate the role that Technologies (both Design and Digital) can play in 21st-Century Learning. Prior to joining Mount Carmel, he spent seven years working in the Northern Territory with Indigenous students from remote communities and will always have a little bit of red dust in his blood. He is, however, very happy to be back home in nipaluna, teaching in the shadow of kunanyi.

Norma talked to Dave about:

  • The difference between a STEM programme and a STEAM programme.
  • How STEAM is implemented across Year 6 White and Year 6 Navy
  • The advantages of a STEAM programme.
  • Some of the challenges experienced and ways in which those challenges have been overcome.
  • The assessment of STEAM and how it is reflected in the reporting process.

Norma spoke with Linda Howe, the College Counsellor at Mount Carmel.

Linda has been working at the College for six years and is a trained teacher and well as a trained counsellor and a mother to six children. Her wealth of knowledge and experience are an invaluable asset to our College.  Linda supports students from Kindergarten to Year 10 and is available to talk to parents.  In addition to these services, Linda also regularly liaises with teachers in order to assist them in understanding students’ needs.

To find out more about Linda’s role, click here to be taken to the College Counsellor’s page on this website.

Norma talks to Linda about:

  • preparing students for the return to school after COVID-19 break 
  • ways to reduce potential anxiety around the return to school
  • strategies to support students experiencing anxiety
  • the protocols in place for the safe return of students.

Further reading:

Psychological First Aid For Children


Norma spoke to Elizabeth (Liz) Jordan (nee Horlock).
Liz is a former student of Mount Carmel College, commencing her education in Prep in 1959 until Grade 12 (Matriculation) in 1972. Upon completing her studies at Mount Carmel, she continued on to the University of Tasmania where she graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Pharmacy, working both interstate and overseas as a pharmacist.  Currently, Liz is a pharmacist at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH). In 2015 she was honoured by being named Pharmacist of the Year by Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, The Pharmacy Guild, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists Australia and University of Tasmania, Pharmacy Department.  Liz is also a current member of the Mount Carmel College Governing Council.  In addition to working as a pharmacist she is also working on the Jack Jumper Allergy Program through the RHH.

Norma talked to Liz about:

  • Her experiences as a student at MCC in the 1960s and early 1970s
  • Her work as a pharmacist interstate and overseas.
  • Her current involvement in the Jack Jumper Allergy Program at the RHH

More information can be sourced from:

Jack Jumper Allergy Program

Jack Jumper


Jesuit Priest, Author, Educator and Critic of Modern Culture

Rev Dr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of The Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting. Fr Richard Leonard is a Jesuit priest, an author, educator and critic of our modern culture.

Born in Warwick, Queensland, and growing up in Toowoomba, Fr Richard Leonard SJ directs the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting for the Bishop’s Conference. Richard has undergraduate degrees in arts, education and theology, as well as a master’s degree in systematic theology. After ordination to the priesthood at St Mary’s Church, North Sydney, he was apprenticed to Albert Street Productions where he wrote, produced and directed documentary films for Australian television. In 1996 Richard undertook the graduate course in film production at the London Film School and in 2004 graduated with a PhD in cinema studies from Melbourne University. Fr Richard is a member of the Australian Catholic Media Council and a film critic for all the major Australian Catholic newspapers. He is also the author of a number of books, including Where The Hell Is God? and lectures internationally on faith and culture.

Norma talks to talks to Father Richard about:

  • his role as the Director of the Office for Film and Broadcasting and the rationale behind the establishment of the Office
  • the influences of media on children (including social media)
  • how might parents respond to those influences
  • how might schools respond to those influences
  • film review from 1999 to 2017 available on the catholic.org.au website

More information can be sourced from:

  • 2017 Film Reviews – Catholic Church in Australia
  • Interviews featuring Father Richard are available on YouTube
  • The Full Catastrophe by Tracey Leonard. Publisher HiddenSpring 1999 (ISBN-13: 978-1587680618)
  • Where The Hell Is God by Richard Leonard SJ. Publisher HiddenSpring 2010 (ISBN-13: 978-1587680601)

Mount Carmel College eLearning Manager

Norma spoke to Anthony Peck, eLearning Manager at Mount Carmel College. Anthony graduated with a double major in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Melbourne followed by Honours in Synthetic Organic Chemistry in the mid 1980s. He worked for a Danish company in industry for three years followed by four years at the Federal Department of Science (Patent Law) in Canberra. He completed a postgraduate Diploma in Education and commenced his teaching career in 1992 and has taught STEM based subjects in the ACT, New South Wales, Western Australia, England and now Tasmania. Married with two adult children, Anthony is a self-professed nerd and is still learning.

Mount Carmel College Principal

Norma spoke to Fiona Nolan, the current Principal of Mount Carmel College. Fiona has been an educator for over twenty years with experience both in the Primary and Secondary sector in teaching and leadership roles. These experiences include teaching, mentoring, guiding and leading in settings ranging from remote, rural and metropolitan areas in Queensland. Part of this time was spent in the district office leading curriculum change and supporting pedagogical initiatives, such as middle years, building resilience and supporting literacy and numeracy initiatives.

Norma talked to Fiona about:

  • What led and motivated her move into leadership within education
  • What were her initial impressions of Mount Carmel College
  • What is her vision for the future of Mount Carmel College
  • How teaching pedagogy has changed over the years
  • Teaching as a profession


Dr Sarah Brunskill grew up in Sydney, attending Loreto Kirribilli Catholic Girls School. After completing school, she worked at St George’s School, Windsor in the UK for a year as a teacher’s and boarding assistant. Upon moving back to Australia, Sarah settled in Adelaide for a period of 5 years to complete and graduate with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery. Sarah then moved to Toowoomba, QLD where she worked in a private dental practice. After a visit to Tasmania to see close friends from University, Sarah fell in love with Hobart and moved a mere two months later and accepted a position with Ian Gurner Dental Care.

Norma talked to Sarah about:

  • Children’s oral health
  • Current issues affecting children and their oral health
  • How parents can best assist their children in the early years to maintain good oral hygiene
  • Trips to the dentist
  • What tricky foods should children avoid in lunch boxes

Professional Cricket Player and Coach

Norma spoke to Michael DiVenuto, a professional cricket player and coach. Michael represented Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield competition. He has represented Australia in nine One Day Internationals and was Australia’s assistant batting coach. In 2016 he joined the Surrey County Cricket Club as head coach.

She asks Michael about:

  • What is the value in children playing sport?
  • Should parents choose a sport that suits their child’s personality?
  • What are the benefits of team sports?
  • What are the benefits of non-team sports?
  • How much sport should children play?
  • What is the role of parents off-field?
  • What is the role of a spectator parent?
  • Is playing professional sport conducive to family life?
  • Should children with mobility issues be encouraged to play sport?

Many thanks to Mrs Liz DiVenuto for many of the questions

Sport Psychologist

Norma spoke to Emma Harris, owner of Sport Psychology Tasmania. Emma provides performance and welfare support to individual athletes and coaches, as well as sporting teams and squads. She has experience working with junior athletes and their parents, amateur to elite athletes, as well as professional sporting organisations, focusing on improving athletic performance and supporting the wellbeing and mental health of the individuals. Also in the discussion is Melanie Sluyters, Year 6 teacher and Positive Education Coordinator at Mount Carmel College.

She talks to Emma about:

  • The science of sports psychology and her profession as a sports psychologist.
  • The benefits of sports psychology.
  • The parallels of sports psychology and positive psychology.
  • Positive psychology in practice with the developing child, especially helping them to understand their emotions and thought processes.

She talks to Melanie about:

  • The journey of implementation of Positive Education into teaching and learning at Mount Carmel College over the last two years.
  • The science of positive psychology that underpins Positive education.
  • Guest speakers who have presented over the past two years at Mount Carmel; Kerry Howells, Lea Waters and Dan Haesler.
  • Examples of strategies used in classrooms to foster Positive Education.

More information can be sourced from:

Positive Psychology and Growth Mindset

Norma spoke to Alli Williamson and Dan Haesler together after their successful forum at Mount Carmel College. Alli is the Co-owner of CrossFit 42South, a Positive Education facilitator and teacher and the Founder and principal coach of Optima Performance Coaching. Alli is passionate about arming people with the knowledge and skills to protect them from psychological ill health. Alli currently works with teachers, parents and students across five schools in Tasmania in the field of Positive Psychology (Positive Education). She is proud to be supporting the implementation of Professor Lea Waters’ Visible Wellbeing approach across four of these schools.

Dan is the Director of Cut Through Coaching and Consulting. Dan consults with individuals and organisations around issues of engagement, wellbeing, mindset and leadership. He has presented alongside educational leaders, Olympians, Academy Award winners and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has also consulted with government education projects, corporate business, schools and professional associations such as The Black Dog Institute, Microsoft, Adobe and the National Library of Australia.

She talks to Alli and Dan about:

  • What is growth mindset?
  • Will a person succeed with a growth mindset?
  • How can teachers be promoting Positive education in schools?
  • How can teachers be fostering growth mindset in schools?
  • What can parents do to foster growth mindset?
  • Should we be telling children that they can be anything that they want to be?
  • Should we be telling children not to give up?
  • What were some of the highlights of the forum?
  • What are some take home messages?

Sisters of Charity

Norma spoke to Sr Cathy Meese from the Sisters of Charity of Australia.

She talks to Sr Cathy about:

  • Where does the Sisters of Charity story begin?
  • What were some of the challenges faced by the early Sisters?
  • The creation of St Josephs, 170 years ago.
  • The celebration of Mount Carmel Primary School at Lauramont, Sandy Bay 70 years ago.
  • The creation of Mount Carmel College 60 years ago.
  • What is one of the life giving moments that you have experienced as a Sister of Charity?
  • What are some of the miniseries of the Sisters.
  • How is Mount Carmel College keeping the charism of the Sisters of Charity alive today?

More information can be sourced from:

  • Sisters of Charity Australia
  • Apostolate of Love, Mary Aikenhead 1787-1858 – Sr Margaret Donovan rsc
  • Those that Sowed – Sr Rosina Burns rsc
  • This Little Gem – Sr Edna Skewes rsc
  • To the Beckoning Shores – Sr Josephine Cannell rsc
  • A Cause of Trouble – Sr Moira O’Sullivan rsc

Many of these books are currently out of print, but by making contact with the

Sisters of Charity Archives Office, an arrangement to borrow a copy could be made.

Early Childhood Programs

Norma spoke to Kate Turner, Education Officer – Early Years (Birth – Grade 2) at the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office.

She talks to Kate about:

  • What constitutes a program that will meet the needs of children in the Early Years (Birth – 8 years)?
  • What lifelong skills do children need to become active learners?
  • Her experience and insights into education practices.
  • What challenges are placed on children once they commence formal schooling?
  • What is play based learning?

More information can be sourced from: