7 Questions with Cassandra Pendlebury
Name: Cassandra Pendlebury
Current title: EO NSW/ACT plus National Curriculum Co-ordinator
Current organisation: Christian Schools Australia
Cassandra has had a mixed career in HR Management Consulting and Education - 20 years in both. In Cass's current role, she support CSA schools in NSW/ACT (42) with Professional Development, Strategic Planning, Management and HR decisions plus Advocacy and School Improvement techniques.
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
I think for me the most challenging area is dealing with conflict situations in Christian Schools. We expect Christians to be perfect but obviously we are not.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I walk and do yoga most mornings. Coffee is essential and sometimes breakfast then I’m on the computer from 8:15am until around 5 but often those times vary due to events or travel. I’m very diligent about getting up and moving every hour and doing some stretches or walking and if possible having a swim (summer and winter). Often I will have calls or urgent emails out of hours but I try to ensure some balance in my day.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Never assume and always listen with the intent to hear - not reply
4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Bobby Clinton’s ‘The Making of Leader’; It’s old but his timeline of lessons and stages of leadership development from a Christian perspective is gold. I’m using it in my current PhD on Spiritual Well-being and Leadership in Christian Schools. The other two that has been of influence in both my previous career and education is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People plus Daniel Goleman’s The New Leaders.
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
CSA are not involved in recruiting for our schools - but I have a recruiting background so I’m often asked to be on a panel. I would say the finding is a mix of character and skill with a good dash of Holy Spirit guidance. The keeping is about valuing, developing and nurturing teachers both professionally and spiritually
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Know your existing culture and get clear data on where you are at, set your goals with guidance from God and others, follow through with a plan that involves everyone, seek feedback, be flexible enough to adjust the course and always be open to guidance.
7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a Christian school leader so far?
So many stories. I think our Emerging Leaders trip to the Global Leadership Summit Chicago in 2017 stands out. I had 14 leaders from Christian Schools all around Australia with me and it was a fabulous time of learning and bonding through a range of experiences - including a car trip to Indiana through the corn fields and a visit to the Wade Museum at Wheaton College where both C.S Lewis’s and Tolkein’s key artifacts are housed. The relationships formed during that trip have grown and many of those emerging leaders are now Principals in our schools.