Principal’s Welcome

Principal's photo

Welcome to Lyrebird College!

I am honoured to be the first or foundational principal of Lyrebird College and to be in a position to set the tone and educational opportunities for students in 2021 and the years ahead. My vision and hope for Lyrebird College is to provide an opportunity for students with ASD to be given the education that they deserve and to make certain we cater for the unique individual needs of our students in a safe, nurturing and happy environment.

As Principal I place high importance on educational excellence, on students working towards achieving their goals and for students to experience genuine success and to celebrate their accomplishments. I have a deep belief, that as people we naturally thrive in settings that are inclusive, in classrooms that are cheerful and joyous, where students are active and engaged learners, and an overall feel throughout the college of welcoming warmth and sense of community.

Our College ethos promotes strong home school partnerships, where we collectively strive towards developing a comprehensive Individual Learning Plan that allows for relevant and measurable goals for our students. With a heavy focus on functional literacy and numeracy skills as well as personal and social goals, we will endeavour to meet the needs of our students. Lyrebird College is committed to providing a quality outcome-focused education employing a tailored Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) program.

As an educator I am inspired by the personal achievements of students, I take great delight in celebrating success and viewing students through a positive and admiring lens. In the future I very much look forward to working towards making the hopes and aspirations of our families and students part of the educational programs of Lyrebird College.

Julie Kugler

Vision Statement

Lyrebird College will pursue excellence in the education of young people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Mission Statement

Lyrebird College will:

  • deliver an individualised curriculum that recognises every child’s right to be supported in a joyful and caring learning environment that enables them to meet their full potential.
  • develop and promote good practice amongst professionals and carers in the delivery of the individualised curriculum.
  • promote an understanding of autism in the wider community.

Core Values

  • Learning while happy; happiness through learning.
  • Safety for children; peace of mind for parents.
  • Belief that every individual can learn and has the right to learn.

Our Commitment

  • Continually strive for a deep understanding of each individual student.
  • Celebrate the achievements of our students.
  • Foster and maintain a culture of best practice.
  • Embed a child safe culture so that students feel safe and are safe.
  • Create and nurture a team of the highest quality professionals.
  • Encourage commitment and dedication from our staff.
  • Recognise the skills and strengths of our staff.
  • Seek continuous improvement in all we do.
  • Remain open to the acceptance of new ideas and approaches.
  • Maintain prudent financial and risk management whilst pursuing growth opportunities.
  • Promote constructive involvement within the community.
  • Create positive and beneficial parent-school partnerships. 

Democratic Principles

Lyrebird College is committed to providing an environment which adheres to, and promotes the principles and practice of Australian democracy, including:

  • elected governments
  • rule of law;
  • equal rights of all before the law;
  • freedom of religion;
  • freedom of speech and association; and
  • the values of openness and tolerance.

Governance (Our Board)

Lyrebird college is governed by a group of professionals with proficiency in their respective areas of expertise. The school brings together these experts to ensure all aspects of the school are catered for: financial integrity, educational underpinning, clinically driven and professionally managed. 

Melissa Handbury (Founder): Melissa is a Chartered Accountant with extensive experience in both private practice and the commercial sector. She has held roles at Ernst and Young and has been the Financial Controller of a NASDAQ listed Australian subsidiary and the Chief Financial Officer of a public company where her strengths in financial modelling and business management were well utilised. Melissa is committed to her local community and served as the School Council President of her children’s primary school for several years. In this role she was active in implementing programs to provide training, strategies and continual support for teachers of students with challenging behaviours so the school can operate more inclusively and effectively as a learning environment. Melissa is also a current board member of Billanook College and has the strong belief that each child should be given every opportunity to be the best they can.

Garry Embry: Garry retired from the Department of Education and Training (DET) in 2013 after 20 years in the Principal Class as a Regional Network Leader (Eastern Metropolitan Region), Primary School Principal (Badger Creek PS) and Secondary School Assistant Principal (Upper Yarra SC). Garry has continued to work with the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership,  the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority, Our Watch (Respectful Relationships pilot), DET Performance Division (School Review) and as a consultant for individual schools (including specialist schools).  He has a special interest in the strategies that create inclusive school cultures.

Jonathan Ambler: Jonathan has been a commercial lawyer for over 30 years, specialising in corporate transactions, fund raising and corporate governance, and is a Consulting Principal at Keypoint Law. He has been a partner at law firms Maddocks and Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills). He has two daughters and a long connection with the Yarra Valley through his family’s equestrian interests. Jonathan strongly believes that every child should be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Adrian Spangaro: Adrian has worked in the independent school sector for over 20 years with wide ranging experience across all areas of school financial management and reporting. Adrian is currently Assistant Finance Manager at Lauriston Girls’ School and has a genuine commitment to community and education.

Sneha Varma: Sneha has multifaceted experiences in designing and executing marketing and communications projects across various platforms, including social media, website and digital content management. Her expertise includes engaging diverse audiences, developing digital community spaces, and building strong brands. She is committed to cultural equity and inclusion in the Victorian cultural and wellbeing sector, including health, education and arts.