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10 INDEPENDENCE VOL 43 NO 1 MAY 2018
Chair. Like any relationship it cannot be
taken for granted and must be nurtured.
The five Chairs with whom I have
worked have all been supportive of my
leadership which has extended to School
Council members at large. I have been
fortunate that each Chair has understood
the respective responsibilities of the
governing body and the Principal and to
that end, afforded me the professional
space to get on with leading the school.
I have ensured that the Chair and
School Council are kept well-informed
of the school's successes, challenges
and failures. Being transparent has
engendered trust which is essential
to a positive relationship between the
Principal and the governing body.
Building strong relationships with the
Executive team and staff have also
been a priority. Having been at John
Wollaston for many years has enabled me
to get to know staff at a more personal
level. Offering support in times of crisis,
sharing the joy of family celebrations,
taking pride in career promotions and
easing older employees into retirement
are part and parcel of my role. Staff
greatly appreciate the pastoral care of the
Head. They know that their wellbeing
counts as much as their marks book or
a manicured garden bed. Goodwill and
empathy shown to staff builds a positive
culture evidenced by strong collegiality,
loyalty and affiliation to the workplace. I
have found that when difficult decisions
are to be taken, knowing staff well is
an advantage. Consulting staff, keeping
them informed and supporting them in
their endeavours are priorities for the
It has been equally important to establish
positive relationships with the parent
body, students and alumni. Supporting
P&F Association activities, involving
parents in important initiatives, attending
alumni events, interacting with the
students in a variety of school contexts,
and being approachable and accessible
are key to working successfully with
the school community. An advantage of
longevity is that I have been privileged
to share the Kindergarten to Year 12
journey of many children. Several old
scholars have returned to work at John
Wollaston and others have now enrolled
their children in the early years which is
a special thrill for me and wonderful for
a school in its 29th year.
A priority throughout my tenure has
been to articulate a consistent, clear
vision for the school underpinned by
a set of core values to which we all
subscribe. Whilst strategic priorities
have necessarily varied over the years in
response to a number of factors, not the
least being the growth and maturity of
the school, my vision has never wavered.
I see this as providing important stability
for the school and wider community.
My focus is always about working as
a whole school to improve educational
outcomes. Continuously seeking
improvement and being open to new
ideas and opportunities avoids the trap
of complacency which is a danger for the
long serving Head.
Throughout my career I have chosen
to make a contribution to the wider
profession through active membership
of professional associations, Boards,
committees and the like. As leader of
an Anglican school I have proactively
contributed to the Diocese and
established collegial networks within
West Australian and national associations
of Anglican schools. My involvement in a
broad range of professional activities has
proven to be energising and sustaining in
my role and of benefit to my workplace.
What are the pitfalls for the long
serving Principal? I have mentioned
complacency. There is also the real risk
of fatigue and neglecting our health
given the sheer unrelenting demands of
the job. There is so little opportunity for
down time. I think the greatest pitfall,
however, is not recognising when our
message is tired and it's time to leave.
Our passion and love of what we do
doesn't entitle us to remain indefinitely.
Hopefully we can leave at a time of
our own choosing, content with our
contribution and looking ahead to new
opportunities in our lives.
and pastoral culture and traditions of a
young school is both challenging and
exciting. I love my job, find it incredibly
fulfilling and have developed a great
affection for our vibrant educational
community of students, staff, parents,
Board members, alumni and supporters.
Whilst 13 years' experience as a Deputy
Principal in five very different contexts
equipped me well for the transition
to Principal, I have no doubt that my
ability to sustain the role has been
due to the strong, mutually supportive
relationships I have established within
my school community. Arguably the
key relationship has been, and is to
this day, that between Principal and
empathy shown to
staff builds a positive
culture evidenced by
loyalty and affiliation
to the workplace.
I have found that
decisions are to be
taken, knowing staff
well is an advantage.
supporting them in
are priorities for the
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