As the new principal I am conscious that people right across the Grace community will have all kinds of questions and expectations of me. Firstly I am very conscious that I need to learn about the Grace community before I begin to talk about changes or newly identified needs at each campus. My initial goal therefore is to ask questions, lots of them and about many things. So far I have been doing that and I take this opportunity to thank students, staff and parents for their patience as they interact with me in the weeks and months ahead.
I come to the Grace community blessed with a reasonable amount of experience. Following my three years of teaching at Grace from 1985 to 1987, I moved to Immanuel Lutheran College at Buderim as an Acting Head of Department, and after seven years of service there I moved to Good Shepherd College in Hamilton Victoria as Principal. Good Shepherd was my first Prep to Year 12 school. From Good Shepherd the next move was to Tatachilla Lutheran College, just south of Adelaide, and then back to Qld, to St Peters Lutheran College. Across those ten years I served in many administration roles in both colleges, from Curriculum Coordinator to Campus Principal, often filling more than one role at the same time. In 2009 I transferred to Redeemer Lutheran College as Principal, before returning to Grace this year.
There are many things which excite me about returning to Grace. There is a little familiarity with Grace as a place, and it is most enjoyable to be serving families from 30 years ago, all be it a generation further along. The familiarity also extends in some cases to staff whom I have previously worked with either at Grace or at other Lutheran schools. I am especially pleased to be back in a school which includes the High School Years, Years 7 to 12 as its focus; this is after all my educational specialty. Grace’s move toward contemporary teaching practices that embrace technology, as well as enterprise education evident through such programs as the Traded Skills Centre, the Robotics Program and Grace Academy are all hallmarks of a school wanting to embrace the future. Just as important though is Grace’s commitment to the traditional academic skills and subjects, with a real passion to educate to the highest standard in these traditional disciplines. Lastly on this topic, but most importantly, Grace is not just a school, it is a Christian community striving to make a difference to both its immediate community as well as the wider community; as a Christian educator this is very special.
I believe my goals are quite simple to express, and almost certainly more challenging to achieve. I hope to build on the excellent work of Grace’s principals who have preceded me; their legacy is that they both cared deeply about Grace, excellent education was developed to meet ever increasing needs, and both Mr Stolz and Mrs Butler had the vision, foresight and commitment to introduce new programs which have seen the Grace community constantly challenged to improve individual student outcomes as well as a school as a whole. I think parents choose Grace because it does not stand still, it is always seeking to change in order to meet the new educational needs of the families in the surrounding communities. In forever changing, Grace retains its focus on the Christian faith and aiming to live its Christian values, both of which provide a stable school culture providing surety for the whole school community.
Serving Grace as the Principal can easily become all-consuming and I have learned over many years that it is important to have a thriving life outside of my job. This involves regularly engaging with my family, my wife Naomi, and my two daughters who are no longer at home. My wife and I also enjoy our two dogs, Rocky and Charlie, both with personalities as large as the most boisterous national leader that you could think of. These joys are supplemented with hobbies such as keeping relatively fit, car and motorcycle restoration and woodwork.
I am honoured to be back at Grace and I look forward to the years ahead.