I often reflect upon the significance of my time in Canberra at St Edmund's College because these six years in the ACT were important both professionally and personally.
Professionally, it was the most courageous move that I have made in over 30 years in teaching. In 2009, I left a very good school in Brisbane, where I was Deputy Principal, and where I felt I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I moved interstate to the ACT to another very good school as Principal, and where I was totally unknown. Given that I believe that relationships are at the heart of good Catholic schools and that effective leadership is built upon relationships across a school community this change was not without some anxiety.
Learning a new school culture and schooling system, while also leading that school, was both challenging and immensely rewarding. I continue to benefit from what what I learnt about a different schooling system but also from what I experienced as being similar and common between students, schools, systems and states. I sense deeply that my leadership capacity has grown considerably from this experience.
Personally, these six years were tough. For complicated family reasons my wife and children remained in Brisbane. I also left behind a large and close network of family and friends. I was something of a FIFO - fly in and fly out principal, husband and father. I learnt that three weeks was my limit. I also remain grateful for regular school holidays, a trusted Deputy, upon whom I relied immensely, and an understanding wife. Looking back, as I did recently with my wife, our relationship was strengthened and deepened by this period of time.
In 2015, I returned to Brisbane at St Joseph's Nudgee College. I remain profoundly appreciative of this interstate opportunity to have lead the St Edmund's College Canberra community and to have learnt invaluable lessons in life, in school leadership and within myself.