NAME: Phillip Heath
COMPANY: Barker College
LOCATION: Sydney, Australia
Every school morning, Phillip Heath writes a birthday card. Or two. Or 10. It’s a ritual the Head of Barker College performs without interruption so he can deliver the cards personally to each student celebrating their special day.
“I visit up to 10 classrooms,” he says. “It gives me a chance to connect personally with the kids and the opportunity to do a pulse check on our culture. It’s incredibly important.”
It is this gesture that sums up the dedication and commitment Phillip has for his students at the private Sydney school – all 2,420 of them from pre-kindergarten through to Year 12. It’s also a delicious irony, considering Phillip didn’t enjoy school himself and he freely admits his remarkable 30-plus years in teaching were launched more by accident than design. A critical thinker who loves to learn, he was heading towards a life of study and research in academia when offered a job at Trinity Grammar School.
“As soon as I got into the school environment, I found something deeply fulfilling,” he remembers. “Being a teacher offered me the chance to build relationships, connect with minds and develop human growth. It was an extraordinary privilege that I’ve never ceased to find miraculous.
“However, as a boy I found school reasonably tough. I enjoyed the learning, but not the environment. I was a sensitive personality who took things seriously and to heart, and that made me vulnerable to bullying.”
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