As a graduate of Holy Cross College Ryde and school captain in 1984, Phillip Stewart never imagined he would one day walk back through the gates and into another leadership role.
Mr Stewart returns to the College as Principal in January 2017, when departing Principal Adam Taylor takes up a new position at an independent Catholic school in West Essendon, Melbourne.
Over the past 28 years Mr Stewart has worked in leadership roles at six different Catholic schools and as a compliance officer assisting 83 schools in the Parramatta diocese to meet government legislative requirements and curriculum set by the Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES). He began his teaching career at another Patrician school – Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown – and has taught Science, Software Design and Development, Agriculture and Religious Education.
There’s a lot to be proud of with this school.
Mr Stewart said he had fond memories of Holy Cross, which modelled its new Flexible Learning Precinct on a $16 million building project undertaken at St Columba’s Catholic College Springwood when Mr Stewart was the Assistant Principal there.
“I’m so grateful to find the school in the position that it is in,” Mr Stewart said. “It has terrific family support and Adam and his team have done a fantastic job in building a world-class facility. It is my privilege and opportunity to take the College to the next level.
“You know you are in a Patrician Brothers’ school by the sense of welcome. It goes all the way down to the kids in the playground, to the people in the front office, to the teachers that you see. They embrace you and make you feel at home.”
Phil Stewart is a going to be fantastic for this community.
Mr Stewart remembers the school’s achievements on and off the sporting field. Holy Cross was home to the winning team on school quiz show It’s Academic when he was a Year 5 student, and sprinter Darren Clarke is among an alumni that includes many Rugby League and academic success stories.
He said the expectation for students to achieve and to develop their innate gifts and talents was also a hallmark of a Patrician education, and that many of the brothers were still part of the Holy Cross community.
“Every single one of them has experience leading a school so there’s an absolute wealth of knowledge right next door,’ he said. “I’ve got a lot of experience I can call on if needed, and I’m very grateful for their support.
“There’s a lot to be proud of with this school and I guess coming back as an old boy there’s probably an expectation of returning to the ‘glory days but as I see it the glory days are ahead of us, not behind us.”
Key to that are high expectations – and high challenge – for students.
“Anything worth doing is hard and if students are going to be fully engaged in what they are doing in the classroom they need to have high expectations from not only their teachers and their parents but also from themselves.
“If we get that, anything is possible. What I really want to see here is young men of faith determined to make a difference in the world.”
Departing Principal Adam Taylor said the school was in good hands after meeting Mr Stewart while researching innovative learning spaces ahead of building the school’s Flexible Learning Precinct.
“Phil Stewart is a going to be fantastic for this community and he knows it well having been a former school captain of the place,” he said. “He will see many of his own ideas writ large in the work that we have done here at Holy Cross over the past several years.”