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CaSPA Case Study: Interstate Experience - Michael Lee

Posted on 11 June 2017
CaSPA Case Study: Interstate Experience - Michael Lee

My teaching career has spanned three states and territories and each of the three schools I have led have belonged to an Archdiocesan system that included large parts of rural NSW and all of the ACT.
The two schools in rural NSW were deeply challenged financially and in other ways. The Archdiocese kept strict control over staff allocation but was quite trusting and supportive of initiatives to increase student enrolments and community profile in both the region and within the Archdiocese.
The two schools were linked to their parish. The support both spiritual and material of the priest was, for the most part, generous, timely and welcomed.
Moving to metropolitan Canberra with different funding arrangements, parish structures and community demands was exhilarating. The curriculum, student exit credentials and assessment/ examination arrangements between NSW and the ACT were vastly different and much more complex in the ACT setting. Not knowing what you didn't know meant trusting others and a heavy reliance on your own judgement. This was an opportunity for growth.
All Catholic schools are different, depending on location and demographic. A good Catholic school will always focus on quality teaching and learning in an authentically Catholic setting. A principal moving interstate will carry wisdom, experience and, no doubt, good will and intelligence. They might benefit from explaining their new school's narrative in the context of the jurisdiction's curriculum, assessment and community expectations around public measures of performance and success. Legislative demands around school and professional accountabilities should be a high priority for professional learning.
As principal, you should be confident in your own abilities; after all, you did win the job, and you should not be shy in bringing the energy and vision the selection panel saw in you.
We lead change in our schools everyday. Crossing borders will demand some changes from you. Confidence in self and trust in others will make such a move a worthwhile and rich transition for the fox and the hound.

Michael Lee
College Principal
St Mary MacKillop College - Canberra

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