Leading Care and Wellbeing in a GSE School

Jun 15, 2015

In late May, I was lucky enough to attend a gathering of Middle Leaders at the Mt St Benedict Centre just across the green from where I teach. Like many of the experiences I’ve had at the Centre, our dialogue was defined by the philosophy of Good Samaritan Education and how our interactions within our school communities can consistently reflect the Rule of Benedict. It was wonderful to share the day with fellow Middle Leaders, many of whom had travelled great distances to attend, and learn more about their leadership structures and policies.

Robyn Anderson, Principal of Lourdes Hill in Brisbane, gave a very engaging talk on her vision of leadership within the Good Samaritan and Benedictine contexts. She spoke at length about the role self-knowledge plays in maintaining effective leadership. For instance, aspiring leaders should spend a generous amount of time defining their own values, paying attention to others, seeking counsel, analysing matters of conscience, pursuing self-awareness and being grounded in their own vulnerability. Or as Robyn put it: “One must believe in the still point; being able to stand one’s ground in the midst of all the swirls.” Leaders should see themselves as the peacekeepers, the unifiers, the visionaries.

Sister Meg Kahler’s interpretation of the Good Samaritan story is always a treat. A casual observer might be quick to judge the actions of some key players but Meg tells and retells the parable with compassion for all involved and a sympathy for the difficult decisions made. Which is, of course, a generosity we are all asked to extend in our roles outside the convent walls. More importantly, recognising our neighbour in all we meet is the driving force of the story, and one that replays in the actions of the teachers who came before us. It’s a pleasure to hear Sister Meg and Monica Dutton speak wistfully about the integrity and courage of the early Sisters and their endeavour, in truly difficult times, to see the face of Christ in all who knocked at their door.

The day itself was a reminder of the values that we as Good Samaritan school communities hold dearest and also an invitation as Middle Leaders to be the neighbour, to listen with the ear of the heart and to strive always, patiently and persistently, to go and do likewise.

Erin O’Brien
Mount St Benedict College