DARRELL Le Mercier began his journey at Belmont City College as a teacher and now, about 20 years later, he has been crowned WA Secondary School Leader of the Year.
Now principal of the college, Mr Le Mercier was nominated in the 2015 WA Education Awards by the school board.
As deserving of the award as he was, he was still hesitant about stepping into the spotlight.
“I was a bit of a reluctant contender; I don’t like public accolades because it makes me a bit uncomfortable,” Mr Le Mercier said.
“But then I started to see it as more of a celebration of us at the school.”
Mr Le Mercier’s leadership has seen the transformation of Belmont City College into an education centre with a competitive edge in sport, arts and academics.
“Over the years, Belmont College was losing the best primary school kids in our area. They were going to private schools or specialist programs elsewhere,” Mr Le Mercier said.
“So I thought if that’s the case, whatever we’re offering isn’t good enough.”
To make a change, Mr Le Mercier instituted the A Plus Academic Extension Program, a test-only entry academic enrichment program.
“I’m a great believer that everything I do needs to be authentic and have integrity,” Mr Le Mercier said.
“The students have to meet a certain standard. Now we’ve banded with UWA so students have access to lots of activities there.”
Complementing the enrichment program, Mr Le Mercier and the College staff introduced a competitive visual arts and drama program, as well as a more pronounced focus on sport.
And with a student body with about 55 different nationalities, Mr Le Mercier said the diversity gave the school a wonderful harmonious atmosphere.
“Many of our kids are refugees or their parents have come on 457 visas, so these kids are aspirant; they really value education,” he said.