For the last thirty years as a teacher and school leader I have worn black socks to work.
Partly, this is because they seem more formal, but also because it was my response to the “axis of evil” (the clothes basket, washing machine and clothesline) that constantly and infuriatingly left me with single socks.
Admittedly, this did not always work because I often looked down during a meeting or interview and realised, to my embarrassment, that there are many different shades of black in socks and that some black socks are plain, some have patterns, some are of different lengths etc.
Then a year or so ago I was given some very bright, patterned socks as gifts.
I started wearing them with my usual workday suits and found that I still looked down quite often, only now it was not mismatched black that looked back at me, it was colour and pattern.
It was then I decided to make my new socks work for me.
I decided that every time I noticed the colour or pattern I should use it as a reminder that life at St Columba should always be full of colour and brightness.
Having been sitting in the “big chair” at St Columba for over a decade, I decided my socks would act as a reminder – a reminder that I have no right to feel smug and believe that we have achieved all we can in terms of creating a great school.
They would serve as a reminder that we still have ways we can improve.
That we still have the opportunity to offer our students even better educational, social, cultural, sporting and community experiences, greater challenges and a more excitingh and engaging education.
My socks (currently relatively demure black with white spots, as opposed to yesterday’s psychedelic blue) remind me that life at SCAS should be something special, not “vanilla”, and never settling for an education that is just good or ”OK”.
You see, in my mind, I have been principal of three schools over the last twelve years.
Three schools that have been at the same address: 3 Iona Ave, Port Macquarie.
Three schools with the same name: St Columba Anglican School!
The first school I was fortunate enough to be employed in was a village school, still struggling to find its feet in Port Macquarie but with a passion and pioneering spirit that boded well for its future.
The second school was one that was somewhat like an adolescent, experiencing growth spurts, increasing in confidence and moving towards a bright future – slightly gangly but showing great promise.
The “third” school, the one I now have the privilege to lead, is confident without being arrogant, successful without being smug and with its eyes firmly on the goal of providing a successful future for its students. That school is now the best regional school in New South Wales.
The saying that “the past is another country” is very true in the story of St Columba Anglican School.
While we have maintained the optimism and passion of the “baby steps” days of our school, we are now a much different version of ourselves.
“When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am an adult, I have no more use for childish ways.”
1 Corinthians, 13:11.
“We’ve always done it that way” can no longer offer us comfort.
In fact, doing the things the same old way can result in our students being left behind and refusing them the opportunities for the future that they so richly deserve.
An act too catastrophic to contemplate.
And the fourth school?????
I now look down at my shoes to be reminded of St Columba’s great future and I don’t really miss my black socks at all!
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School