After 45 years, school’s out for Santa Maria College principal


Retiring principal Ian Elder.
Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au   d467545
Retiring principal Ian Elder. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au d467545

AFTER 45 years, Santa Maria College principal Ian Elder is pulling up stumps on what has been a glittering education career.

And just like Michael Hussey – one of 200 school fathers who recently joined Mr Elder for a dads and daughters walk to school – he is going out on top.

“Mike could have played a few more years for Australia and I’m sure I could stay on as principal for a bit longer, but I feel like I’m leaving the school in a fantastic position,” Mr Elder said.

“I think being able to walk away knowing that things will continue to run smoothly is a good test of leadership.”

Mr Elder will leave Santa Maria College at the end of the year, his eighth in charge of the prestigious Catholic girls school.

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In 2016, Year 12 students at the school achieved a median ATAR of 91.85, the fifth highest in the state.

“I’ve always believed schools are built on four pillars – academic, cultural and sporting are the first three and I think there are many schools that tick those boxes,” he said.

“The fourth, and the one that I’m most proud of in the Catholic sector, is our dedication to community service.

“Our girls graduate as young women, often with first choice of university or VET course, but more than that they exhibit a desire to make a real difference to the lives of others.”

Mr Elder began his education career as a science teacher at Denmark Agricultural Junior High School and also taught at Willetton and South Fremantle senior high schools and Corpus Christi College.

He spent a decade as principal of Sacred Heart College before leaving to take the helm of Santa Maria College at the start of 2010.

As well as guiding students, Mr Elder has a strong track record in developing staff and takes great satisfaction from the six current principals and 18 deputies he has mentored throughout his career.

“Teaching to me is a wonderful profession, but sometimes within our own fraternity, we don’t promote it enough.

“I’ve heard teachers say it’s too hard and warning others not to do it,” he said.

“I don’t agree with that at all. As a community you want your best and most inspirational people working with students.”