Lillian Powell (’31)

Inspiring Educator, Lillian Powell.

Miss Lillian Powell (1914 – 20 March 1984) attended Collegiate in the 1920s, afterwards attending the University of Tasmania where she graduated with a BA in 1937.  She later completed a Diploma of Education at the University of Melbourne and a Master of Education.  Early teaching positions were secured at Ballarat Church of England Girls Grammar School and Methodist Ladies College, where Lillian was appointed Head of History.

In 1953, Miss Powell returned to Hobart and began a twenty-year teaching career at St Michael’s Collegiate School. She was Head of the English Department, Head of Montgomery House and Chief of Staff, a role which involved timetabling for the School and pastoral care of the staff. In 1966, Miss Powell was appointed by the Principal, Sister Jessica CSC, as the first lay Headmistress of the School (prior to 1966, the positions of Headmistress and the Principal were held by the Sisters of the Church.)  Miss Powell remained in this position until 1973, when the Sisters withdrew from Collegiate and passed the School over to a Board of Management.

Miss Powell was then appointed to the Staff of Sacred Heart College and in 1975 became the first non-religious acting Principal of that school. In 1976 Miss Powell moved to Broadland House, an Anglican girls school in Launceston, and opened a Matriculation Centre in order to encourage more girls to remain at school to the end of Year 12. She was appointed Acting Principal of Broadland House in 1977, and later became the last Principal until 1983, when Broadland House amalgamated with Launceston Church Grammar School.

At the age of seventy, not content with retirement, Miss Powell was accepted as a doctoral candidate by the University of Tasmania to research and write about the ‘Optimisation of Educational Opportunities for Women in Girls’ Schools’. Tragically, her studies were cut short and her work was uncompleted as Miss Powell suffered a stroke and died on 2 March 1984.

Miss Powell’s Christian faith was demonstrated not only as an ecumenical Christian in her teaching career, but in her community life.  At University she was a member of the Student Christian Movement and a member of the Methodist Church, which later became the Uniting Church. She was a member of the International Federation of University Women and a founding member of the Board of Lifeline Tasmania. 

She was highly regarded and held in love and esteem by both staff and pupils including the current Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC.