New school for new year

Carolyn Ransom and Sue Mikkelsen cover books.d412694
Carolyn Ransom and Sue Mikkelsen cover books.d412694

In the six months since he took the reigns to found the school, Brett Lewis has gathered a team of 20 staff and a community of parents and about 360 future students.

‘The vast majority of those are in the early years ” kindergarten, pre-primary, Year 1,’ Mr Lewis said.

The principal said the school community chose to name it after the first pioneer of the region.

‘Tuesday nights have been regular community consultation evenings,’ he said.

‘We are the first primary facility not to be called a primary school, but to be called a primary college, linked to Butler College.’

In late 2013, staff prepared for the move into the school by covering and tagging 10,000 books, with resource materials packed in boxes and ready to go on to shelves.

Having appointed three administrative staff and two instructional leaders, Mr Lewis said there were 487 applicants for teaching positions, and he interviewed 50 before selecting the foundation teachers, seven of whom were relocating from country schools.

‘The common trait, value of all of those people is their absolute passion for learning and making a difference in children’s lives,’ he said.

Mr Lewis said he would run the school based on expectations for students’ behaviour, rather than a rewards system, and they had altered the daily school routine.

‘What we are going to have is acknowledgements rather than rewards,’ he said.

‘We are going to start school early because the parents of the north need to get south ” start at 8.20am, finish at 2.25pm.

‘Our first break is lunch, then we have afternoon recess.’

The principal said six after-school care providers wanted to provide the service at the school, so parents got to choose which one they preferred, and they negotiated an hourly rate rather than a flat daily fee.

One of his other changes has been to the parking structure, with the car park open to parents and school visitors rather than staff.

Mr Lewis said the staff room would become a community lounge, open to parents, many of whom cam from overseas, so they could build connections.

‘John Butler Primary College will be ‘a place of learning for proud, passionate people’,’ he said.