Catholic Schools NSW's latest 'Teacher Feature' stars Mr Michael Reardon, principal of St Paul’s Catholic Parish Primary School, Camden. The school’s origins go back to 1883, when two Josephite nuns arrived to teach in what is now the school library.
We spent #OneMinuteWith Michael to ask him a bit about his background and aspirations in Catholic education...
What made you become involved in education?
As a young person I grew up in a small town where most students left school in Year 10 and went into a trade or some form of unskilled work. I was wired differently and liked to read. My parents treated education as a means to a good future and took it seriously. Education therefore mirrored my family values.
Where did you go to school?
I went through the public school system firstly at Warragamba Public School and then Nepean High School at Emu Plains. I never “set foot” inside a Catholic school until my first year of teaching in 1982 - I felt like I had found the rest of the tribe!
Was there a teacher you had that inspired you or stood out?
The teacher that inspired me most was a young teacher, probably in her first three years of teaching. She was my Geography teacher. I remember her always being prepared, she knew her content and set incredibly high expectations and showed a genuine interest in my work. There were times when I felt she was quite demanding, but she gave back much more than I put in. Hard work by her students was reciprocated, with respect. I never met her away from school after I had left and yet 40 years have passed and I still remember the interest she showed in her students as learners.
What did you hope to achieve in your role?
This is my 23rd year as a principal and I genuinely believe that I serve my God through my ministry as an educator. This is where I get my authenticity and respect as a teacher and leader. Whilst I have been a principal for a considerable time, I have always maintained a regular teaching responsibility, at the moment this is with Year 6 where I teach part of the PDHPE syllabus through an anti-bullying programme.
If you were Education Minister for a day, what is one thing that you would change?
I would seek to focus on the huge contribution teachers make to the lives of young people. I would give specific real examples, which I have experienced first-hand over so many years. I would work to ensure that schools are not simply measured by a number on a page as it fails to recognise the broader benefits that these communities naturally create. Learning is a social activity as learners need to learn from each other.