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the ruyton reporter

Women of Significance



Jane Hadjion (Marsden

‘01) has enough energy to

power the Boeing 787s

she used to help build!

After graduating she

accepted a role at Boeing

as a materials engineer in


She now runs her own company, Cleverist, and is

also a Director part time at Engineers without

Borders (EWB) – thinking, creating and engineering

a better world. And yet you still get the sense she is

waiting for the next challenge to confront her.

In 2014 she worked at Ruyton alongside Science

teachers, supporting the development of new

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)


In Year 10 Jane attended a Space Camp in Melbourne

organised via the Universities and through this

was nominated as only one of two Australian

students to attend NASA as part of the student Space

Science programme. Jane has a Bachelor of

Engineering (Aerospace) and a Bachelor of Applied

Science (Avionics). She studied for a Master of

Entrepreneurship and Innovation and began

a Masters of Business Administration. Jane now

works to make connections between students and

the scientific and technical communities so that

learners can have mentoring from a range of

experienced people.

Looking back now Jane really values the sense of

community at Ruyton and the opportunity to do

a myriad of activities because of the size of the

School. She is also in awe of the care the teachers

displayed to all the girls at School, genuinely wanting

them to succeed. She says that her greatest

achievement to date is the courage to leave the

corporate world and to recognise that her skills are

not just tied to her chosen career path.

‘Today there

is enormous pressure to reach the top of your industry

or career, but are you using your talents to really make

a difference?’

Jane was our guest speaker at the Ruyton Lunch.




We unpack our baskets under the magnificent canopy

of the Moreton Bay Fig tree. Someone has brought

pink roses. It is late afternoon during the summer

holidays and the lovely gardens of Henty House are

serene. This place is the heart of Ruyton and here

it was in 1992 that I invited Jennifer Nicholls to accept

the position of Deputy Principal; a role she would

fulfill with distinction, resilience and strength.

The group of former staff who gathered some weeks

ago had all worked very closely with Jennifer during

her long association with Ruyton from 1981 to 2009.

For us, Jennifer’s death in October last year

represented the loss of a colleague who created

memories of Ruyton that will never be forgotten.

Others have recorded their valedictory messages

about Jennifer’s prodigious skills and her outstanding

qualities as a teacher and administrator when

she resigned from the staff in 2009. Five years later

I have both the privilege and sorrow of writing a final

message of farewell. During the fifteen years we

worked together, Jennifer moved from History and

English teacher to Head of Department and thence

to Level Co-ordinator.

It was, however, in the role of Deputy Principal that

she excelled. In this position, Jennifer had the scope

to demonstrate her humanity, clarity of thought and

exceptional organisational skills to all members of the

School community. Her loyalty to the School and her

courage in the face of conflict were matched by

intelligence and commonsense, complemented by a

wit that was second to none.

Always committed to the essential spirit and ethos of

Ruyton, Jennifer was also the voice of reason when

new ideas were being explored, particularly from the

Study! From pageants to induction services; speech

nights to staff farewells; changes to the uniform to

new curriculum directives, Jennifer was equal to

them all. Our daily meetings were often feisty affairs,

as enjoyable for deciding where our opinions diverged,

as much as when we found complete accord.

At School Executive and staff meetings, Jennifer’s

focus on the matter in hand was legendary, although

she was never quite able to resist the need to inject

humour into more ponderous discussions.

Peter and Jennifer Nicholls were each other’s soul

mate and they both delighted in their son, Michael

and his achievements, great and small. For Jennifer,

home was her ultimate solace and her little family

her greatest inspiration. She was able to be at

Michael’s wedding to Vicky; a very wonderful event

which took place on a beautiful Greek island just

weeks before she died.

The dusk has begun to deepen as we collect our

belongings and take up the threads of our current

lives, comforted by our shared recollections.

We scatter pink rose petals over the roots of the

great old tree, reassured that its strong branches will

remain an enduring witness to Jennifer Nicholls and

her fondly remembered legacy to the School in

Selbourne Road.

Recte et fideliter.

Ms Prue Gillies,

Principal of Ruyton, 1985 to 1999

How we shall miss her intelligent advice and

ready wit!

I was very privileged to have Jennifer Nicholls as

my Deputy Principal. As both a teacher and school

leader, the best interests of Ruyton girls were her top

priority. In everything she did she was respectful of

others, discreet and loyal. She was a wonderful role

model for girls, an excellent speaker, problem solver

and trustworthy colleague. She enjoyed her teaching

and regretted having to relinquish the classroom due

to administrative pressures and so she concentrated

on developing the skills and talents of the teaching

staff so that they could inspire the girls. Jennifer was

committed to ensuring that the pastoral care of the

girls was a top priority, believing that only when girls

felt safe, confident and were having fun could they

most effectively reach their true potential.

She also recognised the importance of girls

participating in decision making when those

decisions affected their learning and their school life.

Under her guidance student Assemblies were always

appropriate, were never boring, maybe sometimes

slightly risqué, but that is possible in a girls’ school.

As I remember Jennifer, I immediately envisage

a group of Ruyton girls sitting on comfortable lounge

chairs, perhaps a few on the floor, gathered around

a fire. In the middle is a coffee table with a bowl of

chocolates, on the desk is a vase of pink roses and

Jennifer, her rings reflecting the light from the fire,

is listening intently as the girls vivaciously expand

upon their latest suggestions for bringing joy to the

School community.

Jennifer, our friend, is greatly missed and forever


Ms Carolyn Anderson,

Principal of Ruyton,

2000 to 2010