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From Indigenous statistic to school principal

Reconciliation Week is a special time.

It provides an opportunity to both think about what still needs to change in Indigenous Australians’ lives and also celebrate what has been achieved.

Nicole Wade’s story belongs in the latter.

The school principal, 38, was close to becoming a statistic at school, becoming disengaged and pregnant by the time she was 16.

Despite her mother taking an active and proud role at school, Ms Wade’s early years of education were far from enjoyable.

Children stayed away from her because of her “dark skin” and teachers couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to answer their questions.

"School quickly became a lonely and disconnected place for me," Ms Wade told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Despite leaving school by year 11 and becoming a teenage mum, Ms Wade completed her HSC via distance education, achieving a Universities Admission Index (UAI) of 94.5 and being named dux of her school. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Education at the University of Western Sydney and was awarded the University Medal.

After working in challenging communities in south-western Sydney, Ms Wade is now the Principal of Campbellfield Public High School in Sydney’s south west, a school quickly growing in popularity.

"As an educational leader, I see the value of this principle in my daily work. I am able to use my cultural lens to create change processes that empower, rather than disadvantage, Aboriginal students' lives," she said.

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