When I was asked to reflect on my 26 years as a Principal in Catholic Secondary Schools, my first reaction was where has the time gone?
It all started for me in 1993 as a very young Principal at MacKillop College in the rural town of Swan Hill Victoria. The school had a student population of 250 and was struggling to compete with the two Government Secondary schools in the town. In the space of four years, we were able to double the student numbers and we became the school of choice in the region.
I was fortunate to inherit a passionate group of staff who were very supportive of the direction the school was heading. I am delighted that four of the staff are now Principals in Catholic Secondary Schools across Victoria.
In late 1996, I accepted the Principal's position at Servite College in Tuart Hill Perth for the coming school year. It was a big decision to move across the country but as our two girls were relatively young, we saw the move as an opportunity for a different life experience.
The Superior of the Servite Order, Fra. Christopher Ross was a wonderful mentor and gave me the confidence to back myself in trying to build a culture in the school where the students were proud to be 'Servites' and were willing to embrace the College's Co-Curricular offerings.
I also had a very supportive Senior Leadership Team who were also up for the challenge of lifting the profile of the College in the community. In my seven years, we were able to increase the student numbers from 750 to 950 and establish a number of new programs which included a LOTE Exchange and an Immersion to India.
In 2004 I moved to La Salle College in Midland Perth and really enjoyed my two years there. I was fortunate to again have a very loyal Senior Leadership Team and a staff who wanted to engage with their students in the teaching and learning.
As a family, we loved the Perth lifestyle and formed some very strong personal friendships which made the decision to apply for the Assumption College Principal's position in Kilmore Victoria very difficult. I had a longing to return to a Marist school as I was a strong supporter of their charism and in particular, of their "loving all children and loving them all equally". At the end of the 2005 school year, we again uprooted across the country to return to Victoria. I acknowledge the support of my wife Cathy and daughters Joanna and Alexandra in agreeing to the move.
Assumption College Kilmore was a country school steeped in tradition and even after 13 years in the Principal's chair, this was a real learning curve for me. Taking on a Boarding School for the first time was exciting but also challenging as you now had adolescents in your care 24/7. I came to understand and admire the special bond the boarders had for each other but also the challenge to integrate the boarding students into the day school.
ACK was commonly known as the football factory as many of its alumni went on to have long and successful AFL careers. The challenge was to maintain its strong football culture but also establish an engaging teaching and learning program and co-curricular activities outside of sport for our students.
In my nine years at ACK, I believe we were successful in creating a school culture where everyone felt welcomed no matter what your interests were, and our academic results improved noticeably.
I always thought that ACK would be my last school as a Principal, but in 2014 I made the decision to apply for Marymede Catholic College in South Morang. It was a relatively new school (nine years), and being a P-12 school is unique in the Catholic sector in Victoria, which was very appealing to me.
I am now in my fourth year at Marymede and am really enjoying the opportunity of leading a young school on its journey and loving the interaction with the Primary students, who always seem so happy. Our student numbers are on the move and are now in excess of 1800. We have a very attractive campus with very modern contemporary facilities. We recently opened an Early Learning Centre on the campus which has proved to be very popular.
Our school community is embracing the direction the school is heading.
Mr. Michael Kenny
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