Reflections with staff member, David Elley
01 March 2023
In our 20th year, staff member David Elley, reflects on his time at the College.
Where were you and what were you doing before you started, and what made you take the leap of faith into a brand-new school?
Before coming to St Andrew’s, I was the Deputy Middle School at West Moreton Anglican College on the outskirts of Ipswich. I’d been there for six years having arrived at the start of WMAC’s third year, so the prospect of being even closer to the start of a school was an exciting prospect, especially as St Andrew’s was, upon my arrival, just moving forward with its first Year 7 and 8 cohorts... F Block was the exciting brand-new addition to the campus on which the Primary School was half its current physical build and without its central playground.
What was the most challenging part being part of a small new school?
In those early days it seemed the only thing that didn’t present a challenge was the positivity of the school community, although even then we had to work diligently to help some of those first families maintain their confidence in the leap of faith they too were taking with such a new school. With those first Junior Secondary cohorts, we were teaching a narrower range of subjects with limited resources and demountable classrooms around the campus. Even so, those Years 7 to 9 cohorts revelled in a range of learning activities in class as well as other events including inter-House theatre sports; the responsibility of hatching and raising chicks – yes, in the classroom!; travelling to Boondall Entertainment Centre for inter-school musical productions; and memorable adventures on Outdoor Education camps.
How has your role changed over the years?
I have had the privilege of a range of roles in my time at St Andrew’s, including Head of Middle Schooling, Head of English, Head of Co-Curricular Music, Head of Professional Learning & Research, and now Director of Studies. Having spent time as a member of the College’s Executive team and now as a member or Senior Leadership, it has been a challenging and fruitful journey providing me the means to make what I hope were helpful contributions to the growth and culture of the College.
Your proudest moment/ biggest achievement during your time?
Risking hubris, it’s not possible to identify a single moment as the proudest or biggest; instead, I’m thankful for the vast range of experiences I have been afforded, and the chance to give back in return. It’s certainly affirming to still be seen as having something to offer, and so still join with the others who work with such commitment at St Andrew’s. Instead of achievements, let’s go with the memories...
Favourite memories from over the years?
I genuinely love getting to class to help students in their learning, and getting to my office to help staff and students with various components of their College life, so I have many positive memories from what I see as my main duty at the College: helping others.
That’s not to say I am without other memories that bring a grin to my face. Those memories include having the opportunity to:
- inform colleagues of my first daughter’s birth in my second week at the school
- donate my original 8-colour striped House shirt, with first senior cohort Valedictorian signatures, to the College as a framed “Thanks” from those first Year 12s
- start volleyball in the school’s sports program
- expand the recognition of student achievements in Music
- make what I still think of as an all-time-great Classic Catch in one of our staff end-of-year cricket matches
- inspect the surroundings of the College on a Becker Helicopter flight
- coordinate from atop a crane an earlier anniversary’s Diamond display on the Junior Oval
- witness the origins of (well done Rob Paterson!), and later cut the cake at, the Diamond Dash
- guest-speak at the second Year 12 cohort’s Valedictory Dinner
- speak at the opening of the Learning Hub
- contribute to the College song’s lyrics
...and more. OK – that could seem like hubris, but it is intended as genuine thanks and appreciation... such privileges to have had those opportunities!
What do you love about St Andrew’s?
The positivity and humour and dedication and problem-solving of the staff. The thanks and energy and hope of the students. Having seen other workplaces where there is a negative undertone upon arriving each day, St Andrew’s has from day one pursued and built and maintained a culture that, even when challenging or challenged, is forward-looking and supportive for all in our community.
What do you hope for the future of St Andrew’s?
Most of all to maintain that culture which was set by our Foundation Principal and that first group of staff with their pioneering positivity, then supported through the work of those who’ve since come to the College.
Very importantly my and Candy’s thanks to those staff who, directly and indirectly, contributed to the journeys of our three daughters at the College – much appreciated!
Finally, that my 20 years at St Andrew’s has passed seemingly in a blink, and it still feels fresh and inviting to be here; thank you all for accepting me as part of that journey!