7 Questions with Avril Howard

Name: Avril Howard

Current title: Executive Principal

Current organisation: Lighthouse Christian College (Keysborough) in Australia

Happily married with three beautiful children. Vocational call is to education and seeing young people equipped to flourish and in turn contribute towards flourishing communities. Educational experience spans international and national levels and includes pioneering Christian pre- schools in Fiji. Privileged to be Executive Principal of Lighthouse Christian College and campus Australis Christian College. I am also the Board Chair for Kluthuthu Christian College and serve on State Council for Christian Schools Australia. I am completing my PHD on spiritual well-being through Deakin university. I have had three of my books on the historical development of Christian schools and churches published and contributed a chapter to the book Re-Enchanting Education and Spiritual Wellbeing published by Routledge. Love travelling and have been blessed to visit 5 of the 7 major continents.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?

Shaping the culture of and transforming a demoralised and disillusioned Christian school to positioning it towards being a leading Christian school.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Open with prayer and Biblical meditation, some exercise, regular school walk throughs, interaction with staff, students and parents, balance of meetings and administration, lunch break and noon prayer time, completion of administrative tasks after hours, protecting time for family dinner and conversation, and conclude the day with prayer and Bible reading .

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

In the context of the uncertainty of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions :

“when you can’t go outside, look inside”

In other words, to maintain an optimistic outlook focus on what you can positively influence, not on what is beyond your sphere of influence so that you can make a positive difference.

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?

Spiritual Leadership Moving People onto God’s Agenda by Henry and Richard Blackaby. This book reinforced the message that spiritual intelligence is central to all the other intelligences (IQ; EQ, PQ, CQ) and the importance of moving people towards God’s agenda as it relates to Christian education.

5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?

Allow the vision to capture the heart of prospective and existing staff.

Internal advertising and advertising through our Christian networks and professional associations.

Use of a variety of human resource instruments to measure for organisational match.

Do my best to provide great work conditions for staff.

6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

To make wellbeing a priority by planning and resourcing it through the provision of programs, specialised staff and events that foster wellbeing. For example we have a Wellbeing Wednesday for staff and students.

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?

The opportunity to make and take a stance on the religious freedom Bill by participating in an interview with the media on this very sensitive and controversial topic. This contribution together with my published book chapter had some influence on legislation that enabled faith based schools to retain their exemption for religious freedom.