New Caroline Chisholm Catholic College principal Robert Brennan has returned to the school where was once a student. He chats with Tara Murray.
What was behind your decision to take on the principal role at Caroline Chisholm?
Locality. I’ve been back in the western suburbs of Melbourne for 10 years and working in the east. Coming back home is certainly one reason. I think there was always a romance about coming back to my old school. I had very fond memories as a student and the fact that it was close to home was a dual bonus.
How does it feel to be back at a school you attended?
It’s wonderful. It’s very, very different. Now it is multicultural and I loved that in my previous school and something I’m really looking forward to here. The western suburbs have always had a stigma and I’m a product of the western suburbs, so I want to be part of making sure our kids get every opportunity every other kid in Victoria gets.
What is your teaching background?
I taught at the CRC complex in St Albans for my first six years and then CRC in Sydenham and had nine wonderful years there. Then in senior management went to St Patrick’s College in Ballarat for five years as a deputy principal and then five years in Bairnsdale, The last nine years I was at Salesian in Chadstone.
What are you looking forward to most about teaching in the western suburb again?
I think getting to know the kids again. One of the beautiful things about teaching at the CRC complex was bumping into the kids in a social context, like in the supermarket or their work. I’ve always enjoyed getting to know them outside the role and they get to see you in a different role.
What do you love about Brimbank?
The down-to-earthness of people, that down-to-earth working class and wanting to work hard to make good for something. The western suburbs are built on multiculturalism. It’s created this wonderful community that we have. It can have an ugly side and beautiful side and it’s about making sure our kids understand the beautiful side.
What direction do you want to take the school in?
The school has the potential to be equal to any school in Victoria. Whether we ever get there or not is something I will always aspire to. I want my kids to know they are the equal of any other student in Victoria. I get the sense … they don’t have the belief they are as good as others, and they are.