2018 Principal's Speech Night Address

Chair of the Board of Governors, Dr Greg Keene, Members of the Board of Governors, Trustees of the Pulteney Foundation, distinguished guests including representatives of the Pulteney Old Scholars Association and the Parents and Friends Association, members of staff and the Executive, parents, grandparents, and especially students of Pulteney Grammar School, it gives me great pleasure to address you this evening at this wonderful event to give thanks, acknowledge service and celebrate our many achievements.

As the Board Chair has said, next year marks the 20th anniversary of coeducation at Pulteney. I give thanks for all those involved in making the courageous and wise decision to move to coeducation. It saved Pulteney Grammar School from a slow demise and we now have a rich and vibrant learning community that honours the skills, talents and attributes of all girls and boys, young women and men and I am sure you will see this lived out this evening.

It has been an incredible year, my fifth as Pulteney’s Principal, and I am proud of the achievements of so many in our school community and I give thanks to all who make it happen.
While our fabulous new Middle School is a physical embodiment of the brilliant innovation influencing our students’ education experience, we know that it is the people who really lift us up, who create change and improve our lives. Tonight is about our humanity. Our community spirit.

I have been reading, on and off, throughout this year, a book entitled Learner-Centred Innovation. It states:
“What we do in school, and what students learn, only means something if students continue to love learning, remain curious, strive for something better and ultimately find their place in the world…The future is created through the honest and open reflections of our past, but if we want something better for the future, we have to create it. This doesn’t mean that we ignore the past, but it also means that we can’t simply go on recreating the experiences we had as students for our own children. They live in a different time with opportunities that did not exist when we were children. We would be remiss to allow our apprehensions to hold back their aspirations.” (Martin, 2018).

The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2018 suggests that employees will see an average shift of 42% in workplace skills between now and 2022. There is less demand for skills such as memory, coordination, maintenance and management of material resources, and greater need for analytical thinking, innovation, reasoning, creativity and complex problem solving. In short – the things that truly make us human.

“Knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. Knowledge has become a commodity. Anyone can acquire it. The competitive advantage comes from having the skills and dispositions that enable you to create new knowledge, not just access existing knowledge.” (Wagner, 2018).

I would also argue that, aside from competitive advantage, these dispositions about which I speak support each of us to be authentic, present and to be able to give back to our society, to our world.

Australian of the Year, Quantum Physicist Professor Michelle Simmons spoke recently about her work and the attributes leading to her being awarded the important accolade. She encourages all of us to do what is hard, embrace our doubts, set high expectations, take risks and do what matters.

Someone who embodies this approach is the next person to be invited onto this stage.
One of the great privileges of my role as Principal is to award a School Blue. This award is not necessarily presented every year. In fact, this is only the third time in my 5 years as Principal that I have the pleasure of doing so. The School Blue is reserved for outstanding achievement and contribution to the School.

The recipient:

  • must be of exceptional character;
  • must be academically very strong;
  • must have demonstrated outstanding qualities of leadership and loyalty; 
  • must have been involved in many areas of school life and achieved distinction in a number of these. 

They should have used their talents to have enhanced the reputation and standing of the School.
We have one such recipient this year, but they have no idea that this is happening. I ask them to come and stand next to me on stage to accept their award. Would you please welcome: Pippa Adkins.

Pippa’s tenacity, work ethic and exceptional skill in both her academic and sporting ventures are well known within our Pulteney community. She is respected by her peers and teachers and she is a natural leader, setting a positive example in everything that she does. Those who know Pippa will understand that, right now, she is probably finding this moment somewhat uncomfortable. Pippa is renowned for her humility.

Pippa has achieved academic excellence awards in every assessment period since Year 7 whilst involving herself in all that the School has to offer – four School Productions, six different sports, including captaincy in two, she has completed an exchange to Germany and, this year, most capably held the position of Bleby-Howard House Captain. Her efforts have also earned her multiple subject prizes.

Pippa has represented South Australia in Softball since 2016 and it was no surprise to us when she was chosen to represent Australia last year and this year.

Pippa’s willingness to involve herself, her welcoming nature, and her ability to connect with students and adults of a wide range of ages and backgrounds have been inspiring. Her generosity of spirit is recognised widely. She has consistently offered support to her fellow students and regularly mentored younger students.

Pippa is an outstanding young woman who commits wholeheartedly to any undertaking and is unyielding in her pursuit of excellence. Throughout her fourteen years she has been an extraordinary role model to our entire school community.

Please join with me in congratulating Pippa.

I take this opportunity this evening to give thanks to all who have contributed to our School community:
The Pulteney Old Scholars Association and the Parents and Friends of Pulteney, thank you for your efforts throughout the year. Our community is built on respectful relationships that include all and promote the greater good. We must never lose sight of the positive impacts we can make in partnership to welcome, encourage and celebrate everyone’s value in our School. We have acknowledged the wonderful Allan Wheaton tonight for his incredible service – it is people like him, who have altruism driving their every action, who are humble in their service, who support our School’s success. To the Foundation, for the work you continue to undertake to enhance the education experiences and opportunities through scholarship funding and capital fund raising, thank you. I express gratitude to the Board of Governors on behalf of our school community and echo the thanks previously provided by Board Chair, Dr Greg Keene. Thank you for volunteering your time, expertise and insights throughout this year and we look forward to a positive year of great governance in 2019. I also take this opportunity to thank Dr Keene as he steps away from the role of Board Chair; Greg, thank you for the time and the enthusiasm you have invested in this role over the last two years.

Year 12 – some special words of encouragement for you, our newest Old Scholars. More of a challenge, actually. I dare you to lead, in whatever way you can. This may be leading from the front or encouraging from the side or in amongst those you will influence. Brene Brown, author of multiple books focusing on leadership, vulnerability and strengths, encourages us to “Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armour. And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time.” (Brown, 2018).

Year 12s, we know you can do this. We’ve seen you do this. We haven’t just prepared you for the world beyond school. We’ve prepared you for life and the world you have been living in all this time. As a parent, there is nothing I want more than for my child to be brave, authentic and, most of all compassionate, loving and loved. Year 12s – you are all that. You’ve got this.

And this is the moment in my speech where I knew I would be a bit wobbly. When my husband Ben and I welcomed a bouncing baby boy into this world back in 2001, who knew how quickly it would be that I would be speaking to him and his peers about what fine young adults they have become? And, I’ll add, who would have guessed how much you have taught me about what it means to be truly loved? Thank you.

Famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw stated: “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” (Shaw, 1913). Making mistakes is human. And, as I’ve raised previously this evening, being human is what is needed to secure the future of this world.

Year 12s, just remember, when it goes a bit pear shaped, as it inevitably will, we are all here if you ever need us.

This evening I also acknowledge the extraordinary leadership provided by our School Captains, Isabel Tynan and Tom Rundle, and Vice Captains Isaac de Donatis and Stella Healey. I have enjoyed working closely with each of these fine representatives of our most senior cohort. They embody all that Australian of the Year Professor Simmons espouses – setting high expectations of themselves and others and doing what matters – all with their particular sense of fair play, honesty and integrity. In particular, I thank them for their dedicated efforts to connect with and mentor our younger students and for asking the hard questions of myself and other leaders in the school to improve the student experience. I look forward to hearing them share their reflection on their Pulteney journey later this evening.

As is the custom at this special event, it is my distinct privilege to acknowledge retiring members of staff who have served for significant periods of time. This year, we have two such people who, between them, have served Pulteney Grammar School for a total of 69 years.

Firstly, David Schultz. After 30 years at Pulteney, David Schultz retired at the conclusion of Term 3 this year. David’s work as the School’s Senior Laboratory technician has been greatly appreciated. His attention to detail and his passion for all things Science, particularly Chemistry, have ensured his impact has been significant for our students and staff. I know that David counts his work with all of the Pulteney Winemakers and the many students he supported in the RACI Titration Competitions as a highlight of his lengthy career in our Science Learning Area. We have as our guests this evening, Mr John Mason and Dr Ken Pidgeon from the South Australian Branch of The Royal Australian Chemical Institute who shared with me the following about David:
“His long-term ability to inspire and teach this very difficult precision requiring skill to many students over many years speaks for itself, especially when many teams have continually finished "absolute top" so often.”

I am sure you will all join with me in wishing David and his wife Louise every happiness and we thank David for his commitment and dedication to all of his work in Science and for our School.
Rodger Koschade is retiring at the conclusion of this year, after over 39 years of incredible service to Pulteney Grammar School. Commencing in the Preparatory School in 1980 Rodger has taken on numerous roles including classroom teaching for years 3,4,5 and 7, Director of the Preparatory School, Deputy of the Junior School and, very importantly, Father Christmas for our youngest students in Kurrajong for over 20 years. As you can imagine, he has witnessed significant change and the evolution of our wonderful school.

I know there will be many Old Scholars who will be sad that Rodger won’t be teaching their children! In my opinion, there can be no better validation of his impact on young hearts and minds.

Rodger, we wish you and Susan every happiness, and we thank you for your significant service to Pulteney.

I refer back to the book Learner-Centred Innovation. It concludes in its final chapter with this challenge:
“As educators we have the power to influence the trajectory of lives every day. When students come in our school and sit in our classrooms, we must ask the following every day:

  • Am I improving their lives?
  • Am I working to make the world a better place by creating more thoughtful, compassionate, creative and skilled individuals?
  • Am I providing opportunities to contribute positively to the local and global communities in which they interact?”

When I consider the calibre of educators we have at Pulteney – my colleagues and peers who are so dedicated and invested in each child’s learning journey - I can confidently answer: yes, yes and yes!

Thank you to all of the teaching staff for being such wonderful colleagues and brilliant role models.

I thank the members of the School Executive team for an excellent year. Greg Atterton, Deputy Principal; Mark Bourchier, Director of Community Relations; Head of one ninety, Nicholas Brice; Malcolm Dolman, Director of Enrolments; Head of Prep, Denise O’Loughlin; Sue Porter, Director of Employee Relations and Development; Head of Middle School, Paul Ryan; Troy Thomson, Director of Learning Technologies and Garry Whitelock, Business Director.

To Virginia Evans, who steps away from her role for the last 11 years as Head of Kurrajong, our heartfelt thanks for your dedication, warmth and outstanding leadership. It is wonderful that we are not losing you and look forward to your contributions in the Enrolments space.

I also extend my sincere thanks to my Executive Assistant Ruth Barnden and to all the staff in the learning support, student welfare, finance, reception, administration and student services, cocurricular, community relations, eServices, grounds and maintenance teams.

Please join me in expressing our thanks for our wonderful staff.

To all parents and caregivers, I thank you for your unwavering and generous support of Pulteney. It is a privilege to work with you all in raising our wonderful children and young women and men. And finally, I extend to all members of our School community my very best wishes for a relaxing, safe and peace-filled Christmas.

Mrs Anne Dunstan

Brown, B. (2018). Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Random House.
Martin, K. (2018). Learner Centered Innovation. IMPress.
Shaw, B. (1913). The doctor’s dilemma: with a preface on doctors. Brentanos.
Wagner, T. Knowledge is necessary… (November 26, 2018). Tweet.