A reflection from our Executive Principal, Mrs Jennifer Argue
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”
Ecclesiastes 3: 1
Nineteen years ago, on a sunny spring day, I drove slowly into a car park that ran parallel to Wright Road, in what was then the suburb of Forrestdale. I had just been appointed as Principal of a Primary School that didn’t exist yet, and it was my first day on the job. The rollercoaster of emotions, from excitement to trepidation and everything in between, was barely in check as I walked up a very long, very uneven grey slabbed path to the building that is now the Secondary Administration Block. Back then, in the September of 1998, the building stood virtually alone, a sentinel in a sea of grey sand with a small patch of green grass in front of it. Carey Baptist College really was a place for those with a pioneering spirit!
As I navigated the long walk towards an uncertain future, surrounded by sand, bush and the prospect that this was a perfect environment for reptiles, the reality and enormity of what I had taken on began to take shape. By the time I reached the portico, my own pioneering spirit that had drawn me to this new venture in the first place, was ebbing slowly away, and my prayers to be rescued were becoming more fervent!
Then, a wonderful thing happened. A rather unexpected rescue in such a simple, and yet profound way that it gave me a glimpse of the promise of what this new school community could be.
Spilling out under the portico, were small groups of Year 8 students sitting on the ground working collaboratively on some teacher-directed task. As I neared, they looked up from their work, smiled and greeted me – by name! The warmth and friendliness of these young people, their willingness to welcome a stranger, their excitement about my new job, about the Primary School to be built, both delighted and impressed me. These were the Foundation students of Carey Baptist College. What an impressive group of adolescents! Together with their parents and the staff, they were the pioneers of this new school, and like all pioneers who go before, they would make the sacrifices, creating the foundations that others in the future would benefit from. What a wonderful, fun-loving, compassionate, warm and caring group of students they were…a glimpse of the many, many wonderful children, young people and their families, we would be privileged to get to know in the years to come.
My first engagement with Carey Baptist College had been a few years earlier when our daughter was four years old. My husband and I had attended an information night where the vision for this new school was shared. As we listened to this vision that was shaped from a deep commitment to authentic Christian faith, we knew this was the school we wanted our children to attend. Here was a vision that spoke of educational excellence, of raising young people to have compassionate hearts and rigorous minds, of inspiring them to become lifelong learners, and to make a difference in the world.
Little did we know at that time, that a few years later, I would be privileged to be the Principal appointed to start the Primary School, and to be part of a Leadership Team that would be responsible for ensuring this vision became reality.
As I stood under the portico on that September day in 1998, chatting to these delightful young people, I could not have imagined where Carey would be in 2018.
In 20 years we have grown to a College of over 1600 students across two campuses with ministry platforms provided by Carey Church that include a renowned Early Years Development Centre, quality café, youth groups and Chaplaincy services for the College community. Walking around the Harrisdale Campus, it’s hard to remember what life was like before Timber, or the Auditorium, Sports Centre, Early Learning Centre – or that our first Library was in Mr Gifford’s office!
From the position I am now privileged to hold as Executive Principal, I can look back over those 20 years with a clear view of the significant change that has taken place. As with all change, it can come at a cost. People come and go, moving in and out of our community; things we expected or hoped for may or may not have eventuated. In the most profound way, we have faced tragedy together and the shared experience of grief and loss – this has happened within our school, within our families, and even in the wider community. It is those times of intense change that have, I believe, defined our community. We have come together in those times and found encouragement, comfort and support. Indeed, our capacity to stand together as a community, has found its way into the stories that form our reputation.
The past year has been a time of significant organisational change for Carey, and although this is neither new nor unexpected when dealing with the complexities associated with growing organisations, any change can bring with it uncertainty – or opportunity.
In an address in Frankfurt on June 25, 1963, then US President John F Kennedy said: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” If we focus only on the uncertainty, we may well miss the opportunities.
Throughout Carey’s history, we have been incredibly blessed with high-calibre, highly professional staff who are passionate, gifted and skilled in their area of expertise. In the midst of change and uncertainty our staff have remained resolute, committed to fulfilling Carey’s mission, vision and values, and to seeing our students flourish socially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Yes, there has been change, but there is much that hasn’t changed:
what hasn’t changed is Carey’s dedication to fulfilling its mission and vision;
what hasn’t changed is our commitment to delivering educational excellence and academic rigour;
what hasn’t changed is our determination to provide teaching and learning programs that challenge and engage students and encourage lifelong learning;
what hasn’t changed is our desire to challenge our students to develop a worldview that reaches beyond themselves and inspires them to make a difference in the world;
what hasn’t changed is our belief that every child, every young person, is created in the image of a God who loves them and seeks to be in relationship with them.
I am both delighted and honoured, to have stepped into the role of Executive Principal across the Carey Baptist College Campuses. To be able to lead such an exceptional staff team is a privilege and I look forward to working with them as we continue to journey with you and your family.