VMCH specialist school, St Paul’s College welcomed its new principal, Tim Hemphill, in May.
Tim, who was previously principal at Insight Education Centre for the Blind and Vision Impaired, kindly agreed to answer a few questions about himself.
What do you love about working in specialist education?
First and foremost, it’s something that I share with my family. Both my mother and my sister have been principals at specialist schools so this educational direction seems to have been inherited!
The importance of specialist schools is imperative if all young children, students and adults are to have a fully inclusive life and pursue the options they want, the independence they deserve, and the life skills they need to have.
What are your first impressions of St Paul’s College?
I’m delighted by how inclusive the school is. St Paul’s is clearly an educational environment that welcomes all students and makes it work. When I first walked into the school I was blown away by that. Whether it’s developing independent living skills, having the opportunity to make the most of life, or prepare for supported accommodation, St Paul’s provides the means to achieve this for every one of its students.
Even our most vulnerable students are able to receive the best of care, enjoy school life and celebrate their connections with peers and teachers in the classroom no matter how complex their challenges may be.
What are a few of your priorities this year?
I’ve coined a few phrases. I’m stopping all stations – it’s not the express train to Flinders Street. I’m here to get to know the parents, to learn about each child, to be there to listen. That’s what this term needs to be about – finding out about the school culture, listening, making connections. It’s not about me coming in and saying, ‘well I think I know a better way of doing this, or we should do that.’
The other priority is staffing. I’m privileged to have a great team to work with, there’s an incredible depth of commitment across all staff and that’s a real highlight as well. We’ve got all the ingredients here to do great work which is exciting for me.
What do you love doing outside of work?
I’m a musician and composer, so I’ve written and directed a number of plays for the schools I’ve worked in. I have a studio at home, so I play the piano, sing, compose and write.
I love my rescue dog Bob, he’s a cross between a Kelpie and a Lab. My wife is Swedish so I have what I describe as three ‘Vikings’ in the house – identical twin 18-year-old girls and Monica. I need my long walks with Bob who, apart from Sylvester the new kitten, is the only other male in the household.