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‘Our school is really like a big family’

What do you like most about your job?

The best part of my job is the kids. If you’re a teacher and you don’t enjoy working with/for kids then you’re in the wrong job. As a principal I don’t get the face-to-face teaching with the kids, however I get a lot of satisfaction working with executive and staff developing programs, strategies and systems of practice that make a difference for our kids and families.

What is special about your school?

My journey in Broken Hill started in 1989 when my wife and I relocated from Sydney. We thought we’d come out for three to five years and head back to the east coast. Little did we know how deeply connected and committed we’d become to this amazing community. Broken Hill has a real heart and soul to it and I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had over the past 31 years. The most special aspect of our school is the people. The care, commitment and passion our staff display in their work for our kids continues to inspire me every day. Our school of 48 staff, 250 students from 160 families is really like a big family.

What was the most unexpected thing you have had to do in your job?

Having been a teacher for 33 years, with the last 15 as a principal, I’ve learnt that the unexpected is
to be expected. I plan for what I know is going to happen so when there’s gas leaks, broken arms, fallen trees and dare I say it – COVID-19, I delve into previous experiences and deal with the unexpected as best I can.

What skills did you pick up in previous jobs that have been useful in teaching?

My greatest learning from working in the bank was to not persist with something that you didn’t
enjoy. Biggest learning from working in hospitality was people skills – negotiating with drunken
revellers and convincing them it was time to leave was a big take-out for me. Also, huge in hospitality was playing my part in a team environment in the service of others. My greatest
learning and joy as a builder’s labourer was the satisfaction of creating something from scratch
and seeing it become a reality. Time management was also huge in the building game.

How transferrable were those skills to your job as a teacher?

The skills learnt in dealing with the public and maintaining relationships in hospitality have helped me greatly in my role as a principal. The lessons learnt in my banking experience taught me how not to lead. It was a very hierarchical system which I didn’t enjoy and has guided my distributive leadership as a principal. As for the building game, the skills re time management, planning and organisation have also stood me in good stead.

What advice do you have for people working in another field who may be considering changing careers to teaching?

My advice is to find what suits you, makes you happy and feeds your soul! If your skills and mindset involve lifelong learning, supporting/guiding young people, teamwork, compassion, care and resilience then maybe teaching may be your future.

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