This week marks Peter Crawley’s last week as Principal of The Glennie School. I would like to share with you a section of my farewell thanks to him, given at the Middle and Senior Years Assembly yesterday, on behalf of all staff and students at the school.
When a school loses its way and needs a bit of kindness and healing, the best kind of principal you can hope for is a servant leader. Mr Crawley is, without question, a servant leader. He is empathetic, compassionate and altruistic. He puts the school and the team first and himself second. Combine this with his other qualities – intelligence, integrity, compassion and a sense of humour – and you have a leader who has been able to re-build a sense of trust, collaboration and cohesiveness these last 12 months, while at the same time inviting all of us to connect with and make meaning of the history, traditions, identity and direction of the School.
So much has happened this year. From my perspective, I have witnessed five things:
Mr Crawley’s style is leadership by walking around. It takes a lot of discipline and a genuine love of people to lead outside your office. It is a tough thing to do and the pull to stay in the office is strong - there are plenty of emails to answer and an entire diary of meetings to attend. Both of these things can keep principals stuck in their offices. But a wise principal gets out and about and connects with the people that make up a school – staff, students and parents. Mr Crawley’s philosophy is that you can’t feel the pulse or set the tone of a school from your office. You need to be seeing things, and you need to be meeting people. You need to be walking around, stopping, talking, connecting, interacting, gathering and providing information, teaching, coaching and advising.
Every day Mr Crawley has inspired and nurtured staff and students to develop their personality and find their voice. Great schools build cultures where teachers and students work together, where student voice and leadership helps to contribute to a sense of empowerment and school pride. This doesn’t mean we all need to lead and communicate in the same way. It must be authentic, reflect our personality, and contribute to your own and each other’s growth. Mr Crawley’s quirky giraffe and Oreo cookie videos, for example, have connected students to that message.
Mr Crawley also introduced the Year 12 reflection service, which occurs on the second last day of the Year 12 academic year. At this service, each girl is given 30 seconds to summarise her feelings about her educational journey and what it means to be leaving The Glennie School. The new tradition is a powerful reminder of our philosophy, which recognises each Glennie girl as a unique person. Every journey matters and we have to be brave as a community to listen to the impact of that journey. It may have been filled with joy and successes, but it may have also been challenging and tinged with sadness.
Lastly, with the support of the Pastoral Care team, Mr Crawley has encouraged students to put themselves forward for opportunities. Students shouldn’t wait until they have their shtick together; nor should they wait until the time is right – neither of these things are necessary. If students don’t have their shtick together or the timing is wrong, they should get involved anyway – volunteer, offer assistance, seek to be useful. There is great personal growth to be had in putting your hand up.
Mr Crawley deeply understands the power of tradition within a school. Tradition brings unity, gives direction when there is a need, and fosters connections between individuals. From this perspective, tradition is not static or backwards-looking. It enables us to consider our inheritance so that we can deal with new challenges and circumstances in a way that has meaning and lasting value. This honouring of roles, traditions and contributions has paved the way for our yearlong re-immersion into the culture and identity of this school at each assembly and e-ssembly and explains the naming of the Performing Arts Centre in honour of past Principal Wendy Ashley-Cooper on Founder’s Day.
Celebrating success is a vital part of school life – not just for students, but for staff also. One success often produces a subsequent success, and celebrating excellence and achievement helps build momentum, improves morale, and recognises all the hard work that has been done in order to achieve a particular milestone or result. I think I speak for all of us in saying that e-ssemblies and fist-bumps have become a fun addition to the important aspect of recognising student academic excellence and effort.
The ‘Staff Member of the Week’ awards, which recognise a member of staff who has gone beyond the usual in contributing to the activity or relationships within the School, have also been enjoyed by staff and Year 11 students alike. I am delighted by how much all of us a community are reaping the benefits of such celebrations. Celebrations, of course, are about bonding and belonging.
Although the platform and content of iLoveGlennieSchooling were the work of multiple people, the tagline was Mr Crawley’s idea. To Mr Crawley, students needed to understand that the emotional connection they have to the School would continue during virtual schooling. For him, leadership during the pandemic was about not only managing facilities, finances and government health directives; it was also about valuing programs, connections and wellbeing by maintaining that sense of love.
These five defining characteristics of his principalship at Glennie – visibility and connection, empowering staff and students, honouring tradition and contribution, celebrating successes, and leading in a crisis – have enabled us as a community to heal, find our collective school voice and to grow.
On behalf of the entire school community, I would like to thank Mr Crawley for this sincerely. It has been a fantastic 12 months. We warmly wish him, and Anne, all the best in their retirement as they return to their children and grandchildren.
Ms Tonia Gloudemans
Deputy Principal - Head of Curriculum
Click here to view the photo gallery.
Click here to view a video compilation of Mr Crawley’s last school day at Glennie.