With more than 30 years of experience in Catholic education, Gavin is both proud and honoured to be the principal of St Joseph’s School. The Parramatta Park primary school was recently transformed from the
oldest school in the city to the most modern with innovative new learning spaces inside a state-of-the-art, three-storey building. We spoke to Gavin about the values a principal should uphold, opening day of the renovated school and his proudest moment as a leader of his school community.
What do you hope to achieve in your role as principal?
There are so many things I want to achieve, the most important of all being to inspire teachers to want to improve each child’s experience of learning so that they want to learn more. Beyond this, I want all families to experience the sacredness and security of a welcoming and connected community and to want to contribute to it. I want to lead school staff in walking beside and supporting parents in their quest to raise ethical, resilient and good people who want to improve humanity and the world.
What makes you most proud to be the leader of your school community?
I am proud in the small moments of learning, when I can see that a teacher or staff member has positively impacted learning resulting in excitement, the ‘aha’ moments. I am also proud in the momentous events for example where our community designed and built a whole new school which enables collaborative and innovative learning and teaching to occur. I experience great sense of pride when I walk through our learning habitats and witness the ‘learning hum’. This enhances the wellbeing of all.
What makes a great teacher?
A great teacher has many qualities and the most important one is that they see themselves as a learner too. It is true that the mark of a great teacher is one that leaves students feeling valued, connected to and inspired to learn. Children need to feel safe to be able to take risks in learning and so the teacher’s ability to build relationships is foundational. Teachers also need to be highly organised, adaptable and resilient.
How did your education shape you to be the person you are today?
I was inspired by great teachers to want to teach. One teacher in particular who connected learning with the real world kept me motivated and engaged; she inspired me to want to inspire others to be the same.
What motto, affirmation or prayer do you live by?
‘Never see a need without doing something about it’ is a famous saying of St Mary MacKillop and in my life when I need to, I also recall her other saying ‘God will provide’. We are given what we need in life, we just need to see it and make it work.
What is the highlight of your career so far as principal?
The highlight so far would have to be the opening day of our new school and the culmination of the years of learning that we did as a staff to arrive at that great event. The look, feel and sounds of the children, parents and staff as they entered the school on the opening morning will remain with me forever – the positivity, excitement and expectancy was tangible.
What do you think are the most important values a principal should uphold?
A principal needs to be ‘outward and others’ focused, always striving to improve themselves so they can help and inspire others. A principal needs to be kind to all no matter what and be a good listener. Many situations require a principal to be a creative thinker and a good problem solver, thinking outside the square. Like great teachers, a principal needs to be a learner first.
Find out more about St Joseph’s School, Parramatta Park.