March 1, 2017
New leader, fresh perspective
He’s led some of the most prestigious schools in the country, and now he’s taking charge of one of the Sunshine Coast’s very own. Profile chats with Matthew Flinders Anglican College’s new principal, Stuart Meade.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Though these words were first uttered by Nelson Mandela in a very different context, it is an ideology that continues to ring true to this day for the men and women dedicated to imparting knowledge on our children and motivating them to dream big.
Whether it’s giving them the tools to make positive change, inspiring them to follow a particular career path, or simply giving them the confidence to achieve what they might not have thought possible, there is no denying teachers have an enormous impact on young lives, and after experiencing this influence first hand, it is this purpose that drew Stuart Meade to become an educator himself.
“I had a couple of wonderful teachers as mentors, and so it was something I always wanted to do when I was at school,” Stuart explains. “They were both very different to what I was used to. Not surprisingly, I followed them into the subjects that they were teaching back in those days.”
After securing a teacher’s scholarship and attending university in his home city of Sydney, Stuart became a qualified teacher at the age of 22 and has been molding young minds ever since. But while being content with helping students learn, Stuart was destined for greater things, stepping up to the role of deputy principal at two Sydney schools before the opportunity arose to truly test his leadership skills as a principal at Western Australian all boys college, Hale School.
Heading the prestigious 159-year-old school, Stuart’s passion for educating young minds grew stronger, but after 14 years he decided it was time for a change of scenery.
“I think you can stay too long for both the school and yourself, so I decided to do something different to Hale,” he says. “I think a co-education environment is a fantastic mode of education for young people in this day and age, and to not have 150 years of tradition and history behind the school, but to be part of the ongoing development of the history and the traditions somewhere, was really important to me.”
It was with this in mind that Stuart applied for the role of principal at Matthew Flinders Anglican College here on the Sunshine Coast, and once successful, took a leap of faith by moving himself and his family across the country on a journey into the unknown for the chance to put his stamp on one of the country’s most reputable schools.
“Matthew Flinders is an outstanding school with a strong reputation nationally, so it was very much a place that attracted me. People that I know, who know the school, spoke so highly of the culture and told me I would love working here, and that is a pretty strong endorsement in my books.”
Stuart officially began his new role on 6 January, and says he has already formed a deep sense of pride for his new charge.
It’s those little things that make what you do as a teacher or an educator in a senior role worthwhile.”
“The openness of the students and the friendliness of the whole community has been incredible. Their desire to embrace a new principal and to welcome me and also my wife to the college community has been remarkable. And the students are very happy to just have a chat and ask how you’re going; they’re polite and respectful, which I think comes from the strong mutual respect between the students and staff here.”
Built on a foundation of Anglican values and academic excellence, Stuart says his new school is all about working with students to provide them with every opportunity possible to succeed in whatever path in life they choose to take, and it’s an environment he finds incredibly rewarding to work in.
“There are very few jobs where you get to have conversations with well over 100 people every day – from interactions with countless students and colleagues to parents in the school community,” he says, “and because of all those conversations, there are highlights in every day. It might be just one thing that makes you feel you have done something right as you drive home at the end of the day, but it’s those little things that make what you do as a teacher or an educator in a senior role worthwhile.”
That’s not to say the job comes without its challenges; with the rapid rate the world is developing and evolving, educators are under pressure to keep up.
“We’re talking about educating young people today for jobs that might not even have been created or exist yet, so that makes things a little harder,” he says, adding that constant comparisons on an international level and the growing amount of responsibility being placed on schools adds to the strain.
But with decades of experience, a positive environment, and a friendly team of highly professional staff behind him, Stuart’s vision for Matthew Flinders Anglican College and its talented, well rounded pupils is sure to succeed.
To find out more about how your child can achieve excellence with the help of Matthew Flinders Anglican College, visit the mfac.edu.au website.