Sunbury College principal Stephen Smith tells Matt Crossman that the school’s community is one of its major strengths
What led to you pursuing a teaching career?
One of my year 12 history teachers inspired me. The idea of helping others develop a passion for learning, which Mr Dunne did for me, is something that has stayed with me throughout my career.
Where did you begin your career?
I started at a school called Noble Park Secondary College, which became Carwatha College in North Dandenong.
What were your thoughts about Sunbury College when you arrived in 2010?
Growing up in Carisbrook, outside of Maryborough, I wanted to be a principal of a school that, while not small, epitomised the things that were good about growing up in a country environment. Sunbury has that feel, even though it is relatively close to the city, and I have not been disappointed. It is a great community and we have great kids here.
What are some of the school’s strengths?
Its people. Students often answer the teachers when asked this question. Our major strength is knowing our students, their strengths and areas for improvement, working to provide them with the skills to enter the workforce or further education. We have a culture of high expectations and continual improvement, along with building resilience when things don’t go the way you want.
What are some of the challenges?
Being a young person today is, I think, incredibly challenging. The rise of social media and the constant desire to belong is creating a number of health issues for our young people. The provision of services for towns like Sunbury that are on the urban fringe is important and needs addressing. For example, a performing arts centre for Sunbury is a must and one where the community can celebrate the success of its members. The provision of further education options, especially in vocational education and training is also essential.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a member of Heidelberg Golf Club and I love reading and looking after my vegetable garden. I also love a spot of fishing when I can.