7 Questions with Gary Harris
Name: Gary Harris
Current title: Principal
Current organisation: Emmanuel Christian Community School in Western Australia
Gary is an Educational Leader with over 33 years of experience in Australian Christian Schools. Gary has been instrumental in developing Christian Communities across Australia and has been directly involved in the growth and development of five Baptist Colleges. Emmanuel Christian Community School is the fourth school that Gary has had the honour of being the Principal. Gary has a passion for Christian Education and seeing lives transformed through the power of God and has devoted his entire career to this purpose.
Gary has three married children and four grandchildren. As well as his wife Carol who is an Educational Leader in another Christian School, all of his children are Teachers as well as both his Son-In Laws and Daughter-In Law.
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
The need to maintain distinctiveness as a Christian school. This includes retaining the school’s Christian culture, sometimes challenging secular values in a constantly changing secular culture and balancing the two priorities of educational attainment and moral and spiritual development.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I’m up at 6am with a superfood smoothie made up of 14 different ingredients! Out the door by 7am after a devotion and prayer with my wife. I’m on emails from 7.30am, meetings at 8am and between meetings all day and attending to emails to 5pm. I will play ‘catch up’ with any further emails after hours at home till about 11pm usually in front of the TV. This is my down time.
Weekend is family time with the grandchildren and Kitesurfing in the summer months!
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
When there is a conflict it is ok to not try and fix it straight away, just wait a while, pray and often you will find it will fix itself.
4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far?
“21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” by John C.Maxwell, a well known author on leadership.
Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Sharing these qualities with my senior leadership group as a way of encouraging each other has been a growth exercise that has built trust and helped us deal with the COVID-19 crisis in an effective way.
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
This would be one of the most important aspects of Christian leadership. Lots of prayer,
A robust application form that helps distinguish a quality Christian teacher, trusted discerning leaders on the recruitment panel and then more prayer for a discerning spirit.
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Regular and consistent reminders and encouragement at every opportunity to focus on what God’s desire is for our lives.
Micah 6:8 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
A Christian culture is a prayerful culture that is disciplined, safe for students and staff, and supportive of individual needs. All members of the community are encouraged to work together to support this culture.
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?
My whole career has been dotted with ‘God stories’. When you are involved in leading Christian communities and inviting God into those communities each day it is inevitable that lives are changed. Supporting and encouraging the seeking of God’s Kingdom among a community on a daily basis and supporting emerging leaders and staff to do the same is the most meaningful story that I can be involved in.