Tag Archives: Reflection


As we look around the College and see shiny new shoes and school uniforms, new books and computers, new staff and students, even a new building being built, we look like a great College. But these material things in themselves do not make a great school. A school may look like great on the outside, but it is what happens inside the buildings that really makes a school.

Great schools are built on strong home and school partnerships where students are nurtured, supported and encouraged to excel in keeping with our community values and desires. Great schools see committed staff viewing their role as serving students. Not just to teach students the curriculum, but to engage them in developing skills outside of the classroom. Great schools see school staff committing to a student’s development academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. They place pastoral care and concern as a paramount importance. Great schools ensure that all students are known, valued and celebrated.

Great schools have students who know that the secret to success in learning and in life is the attitude we take. A student may have shiny shoes, but without a similarly shining attitude, learning may not take place. As my grandfather often reminded me ‘Tom, you will have many times when you cannot choose the path that must be taken, but you can choose the song you sing while walking it”. Great schools have students who are just as interested in their classmate’s success as they are in their own.

Lakeside College is indeed a great school and one that I am honoured to serve as Principal. As we commence a new year let us all be reminded that there is no more important work in our school community than the creation and maintenance of great
relationships between students, families, staff and the wider community.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all new students and families to the College. It is great to have you with us. I particularly acknowledge our new staff who have joined us. It was a great privilege to install our school leaders officially as one of my first duties as the Principal of Lakeside College. I congratulate them and wish them the very best as they commence their service to our community.Let us always recall that Christ walks with us each day as we strive to use our gifts to serve those around us in Pakenham and beyond. As we do so, let us recall the following encouragement from the Bible:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your
God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.


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Crucial Conversations – Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler

Two graphics from the book which I found helpful:

CC model

Summary model

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Making lists

Making: a habit of reading one book every fortnight this year. Tracking ok with 9 down but I’m a little behind
Cooking: baby eggplant stirfry
Drinking: water with lime and mint. Perfect calorie free drink for the end of a day.
Reading: Creative Schools by Ken Robinson
Wanting: to keep up riding my bike regularly.
Looking: forward to the end of term
Playing: random online games from my past
Deciding: if I should race my bike competitively again
Wishing: long weekends would last longer
Enjoying: a sunny winter day in Melbourne
Waiting: for my wife to finish studying so we can have more time together
Liking: having a tidy house
Wondering: if my workload will decrease in the near future
Loving: feeling ‘more on top of things’
Pondering: my future.
Considering: riding my bike later today
Watching: Outsourced – so sad it only got a single season
Hoping: life can slow down soon
Marvelling: at our dogs’ ability to sleep all day long
Needing: a little more sleep
Smelling: my peppermint tea
Wearing: a comfy dressing gown (seriously dudes, make the change to one)
Following: the Adelaide Crows (who had a nice win at the MCG yesterday)
Noticing: the difference in quality of print vs web journalism
Knowing: the peace of a long weekend will soon by shattered by work
Thinking: about the children of Islamic State – I hope someone is ensuring all children can access education
Admiring: leaders who work long hours and still be there for their families
Sorting: through some old clothing
Buying: a new pair of running shoes – so many good memories in the old ones
Getting: tired of the petty public vs private school debate
Bookmarking: some wonderful blog posts on the Tiny House movement
Disliking: the strong encouragement society provides to remain ‘mainstream’
Opening: up differing worship experiences
Giggling: at knowing Hugh Lawrie has recorded several blues albums – who knew?
Feeling: a wee bit tired from 5/6 camp last week
Snacking: on yoghurt
Coveting: more energy and time for exercise
Wishing: this sunny day would never end
Helping: teachers to become better at what they do
Hearing: Jose Gonzalez’s latest album 

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Filed under Musings, The Desired Life

Who do you say I am?

Lovely graphicIn the gospel reading for this week Jesus asks his disciples “Who do you say I am?” The disciple Peter’s response is “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

All the school staff at Sunshine are committed to continually improving their practice and this week it was the principal’s turn to pause and
reflect on his work in the school. I thank the staff, students and parents who participated and provided feedback in order to assist me to get
better at what I do.

While I have not seen the report yet I know there will be some encouragement for things that people believe me to be doing well and also some things that I can work to improve.

It is so easy when faced with situations like this to believe that we are only what others say about us. It is so easy to allow our self-worth to be defined by the thoughts of others.

This morning’s assembly was another reminder of the wonderful gifts our students are blessed with. We saw some students receive awards for Mathletics, ICAS Science and ICAS Writing. The 1/2 students
presented their creative representations of the creatures of the oceans. The 5/6 class presented photos showing the many activities that they undertook in Canberra – these photos were evidence of a strong
commitment to looking after each other.

Even so, the worth of our students are not measured in the varied gifts they possess. To follow in the thoughts of the disciple Peter, our students are indeed ‘children of the Living God’. They were infinitely valuable to our Creator before they took their first breath and before they could achieve anything in their own strength.

May we all remember that we are more than what people say about us. We are all precious children of God and have boundless worth to Him.


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Dr Malcolm Bartsch – A God who speaks and acts: theology for teachers in Lutheran schools

resizedimage173247-A God who speaks and acts largeI had the blessing of studying under Dr Bartsch as a post graduate student at Australian Lutheran College. I was also honoured to provide an article to a festschrift issue of the Lutheran Theological Journal to honour his work.

He has been a faithful servant of Lutheran schools in Australia (and overseas for that matter) for a rather significant time. As an undergraduate student taking my Lutheran teaching qualification I was required to read his EdD thesis , ‘Why a Lutheran school? Education and theology in dialogue’, a number of times in different contexts. It was, and is to a certain extent, the key text which discusses the interaction between education and theology in Australian Lutheran school.

Malcolm did not want his thesis published and used in that particular context. For a long time he looked towards creating a more cohesive book designed to fit the purpose of giving staff in Lutheran schools in Australia a solid understanding of the theology and subsequent world view which underpins the schools of the LCA.

‘A God who speaks and acts: theology for teachers in Lutheran schools’ is this book and has been released recently. You can order a hard version of it here. Not surprisingly you can also access a free PDF version on the same page and can obtain a free copy in Kindle/iBook format by sending an email to Lutheran Education Australia.

As a student, teacher, leader and academic in the field of Lutheran education I have been greatly blessed by Dr Bartsch’s work and highly recommend his new book to everyone involved with Lutheran education. It is an excellent and thorough treatment of the basis of the ministry of Lutheran schooling in Australia.

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Filed under Book reflections, Lutheran Education

Sunday night thoughts

It is 9pm on a Sunday night and after a day of unpacking the last box, hanging the last picture and making a rental house feel like a home, I find myself with time to quietly reflect.

Today is the 21st of July – my last day of school in Cairo was the 13th of June. 6 flights, 38 days, 3 countries, 3 Australian states, 2 conferences and not enough rest later, I am on the verge of another week of school at SCS.

My theology was greatly challenged in Egypt – some of the old things I held important are no longer so and some new thoughts have found a place amongst my personal grasping at the Being much greater than I.

I don’t feel a great deal of truth in the thought that God has predestined all the events in my life. So often in Egypt other NGO workers would say ‘I will be here serving God until He takes away the visa that keeps me here’. My feeling was that perhaps it was not God that took away the visa but the government and perhaps God wants you to stay for the very reason they want you to leave.

A few months ago my wife and I had a plan. She was to be commuting via plane to Melbourne each week to attend her post graduate lectures and workshops while I was going to be working part time while taking a PhD in Adelaide. This meant returning to my old school and would have seen my wife struggle to find meaningful work which would allow her the flexibility to also meet her university requirements.

Now I find myself the principal of a school with a high number of English as a second language students, a community facing similar barriers to social services and general wellness as those I served in Cairo and working in school that has a social justice focus usually not found with the schools of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Meanwhile our relocation has opened up work opportunities for my wife who has secured work as a midwife in a hospital that receives a high number of new migrant women and also work in her specialty field of physiotherapy.

To paraphrase the great  Milhouse from The Simpsons – ‘Everything is coming up Brennen’.

I don’t know how all this works. I don’t believe in a God that has a predestined and carefully defined path for us all to follow. Neither I am I sure we have arrived here in Melbourne by accident.

Perhaps all we can do is be thankful. So in that case…


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Back in Adelaide (for a while)

My wife and I have been back home in Australia for about 2 weeks now and things are strange. The world moves so fast, everything is so clean…and expensive.

I look forward to working as Principal of Sunshine Christian School in Melbourne – a lovely little school with a very interesting history. The school has a very multicultural student body which fits well with my experiences over the last 18 months with working with African refugees in Cairo.

This new job means a move from our home in Adelaide – a first for me. My wife is an ‘army brat’ who lived in many different parts of Australia before settling in Adelaide.

It is a great deal of change very fast. It was only 3 weeks ago that I was sitting in my office in Cairo dealing with the daily run of crises. Today I am sitting at a desk looking out over the beautiful nature strip as I work and not a crisis in sight.

Next week I am sharing a little about my experiences in Cairo and the importance of teaching critical thinking through religious studies at the DAN conference. I am looking forward to this a great deal.


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