Jock Garven – Principal

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The “Day in the Life” series gives us a glimpse into the working lives of the people we don’t often see or think about, but who play an important role in keeping our community running.

The first students of Lake Cathie Public School walked through the gates on 28 January this year, but Principal Jock Garven has been busy working behind the scenes at the newly built school since September 2014, bringing the long term vision to life.
Having worked in the public school system for more than 20 years, including in Sydney and North Haven, Mr Garven is relishing the opportunity to lead the team of five teachers and 85 students while growing the spirit of the school and contributing to change in the local community.

The school has adopted the motto “Spirit, Opportunity and Excellence”. “Our wonderful school spirit comes not from new shiny facilities, but from the personalities that come to learn and who embrace the opportunities provided,” Mr Garven said.

The demanding role of a Principal is to provide educational and administrative leadership. “It involves providing a quality learning environment where students feel safe and inspired to learn,” Mr Garven said.
Mr Garven said the prerequisites for the position include a clear vision, ability to embrace others and their ideas, communication skills, enthusiasm with patience, and loads of community spirit. “Most importantly, an ability to understand people, especially kids!”

Outside the usual job description, Mr Garven’s role involves a range of responsibilities unique to the task of establishing a new school from the ground up, including building a strong school spirit and sharing that with the local community.

His days are filled to the brim with variety – from financial planning to working with local community groups, to meeting with Council, to retrieving hand-balls off the roof. Duties also include curriculum planning, enrolment enquiries, preparing risk management procedures, and shooting hoops with the kids.

Handing out certificates and ribbons to deserving students is one of the highlights. “Hearing the genuine ‘Good morning Mr Garven!’ as children arrive at school makes for a great day,” Mr Garven said.
The most memorable moment so far was the first day of school for the kindergarten students. “Watching them receive their ‘Baggy-Blue’ hat and walk to class with their excited teachers, all in their stunning new uniforms, was a special moment I shared with very proud and appreciative parents.”

As part of his personal ethos of “pay it forward”, Mr Garven has been leading school bands since his first year of teaching. In May he will be hosting an Enrichment Big Band camp for Years 5 to 9. The three day camp will culminate in a performance at this year’s Big Band Blast on Friday 29 May. “School music to me has always been about student welfare and if we knock out a good tune too, it’s a bonus!”
While his days may be busy with organisation, management and planning, Mr Garven’s most significant and rewarding task is to nurture a school community where all backgrounds are embraced, individual needs are catered for, and strengths are fostered.

7:15am Coffee from Caramels, then off to school. Book casual teachers if required. Timetabled staff meetings.

8:15am First bus arrives; students on site.

8:45am Morning bell; lessons begin. Planning, ordering, emails and mail, meeting with office staff about budgeting and communication.

10:45am Recess bell. A walk through the playground to engage with students.

11:10am Mid-morning bell for middle learning session. Maintain computer systems and iPads. Phone calls with parents and Department officers.

12:55pm Lunch bell. Discussing students’ achievements over a quick lunch.

1:45pm Afternoon bell. Create communications ready for email, website, Facebook and the Skoolbag app.

2:45pm Home time bell. All staff on bus duty. Conversations with parents.

3:00pm Timetabled teacher professional learning sessions.

5:00pm Lock up gates. Take my own children to music lessons, soccer, basketball and dance.

Story: by Michelle Newman from Newman Communications

This article was from issue 116 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus.

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