7 Questions with Paul Thompson

Name: Paul Thompson

Current title: Principal

Current organisation: Bundaberg Christian College in Australia

I am a passionate educational leader who creates opportunities for students to thrive, learn and grow. My teaching areas were HPE, Maths and Christian Living, with leadership opportunities focused in both curriculum and student wellbeing. I love seeing students' ‘ah ha’ moments, their realisation of their God-given gifts and then how they spread their wings from there.

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

Keeping the main thing the main thing is a challenge. There are so many outward, competing areas that we have to focus on that can easily sidetrack you from the missional component of our job.

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

I like to start the day with my Bible and coffee and hope my kids are still asleep. Upon arrival at work I remind myself of the day ahead by checking my calendar and emails. From there my calendar dictates my day. The most important meeting everyday is with my PA. We talk about our day, the plan and pray together. I aim to leave home to help with getting my kids ready before dinner, put them down and complete some work or have some down time with my wife. Exercise is important, so I maximise my weekends for this which helps keep my mind clear.

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

It’s not something new, but I like the saying “All roads in leadership come back to people.” I think this sums it up.

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?

“The 15 Disciplines - The Essential Checklist for Productive Leaders” by Stephen Scott. It has articulated so many of my thoughts. In particular, understanding that decisions I make are on behalf of the school and have a great impact on the community, so I need to make sure I make decisions that reflect the school and my own personal values and ethics. It is a very practical book that challenges you to think, reflect and learn.

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

Finding - pray and trust the Lord to provide. It also helps when culture and reputation is in a good place.

Keeping - pray and invest in them as people and professionals.

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

Being human and vulnerable, listening to them, valuing them and their contribution and empowering them to achieve their best. Sharing positive and meaningful stories helps encourage people, encourages staff in the vision and purpose of the school and provides opportunity for collaboration and belonging as something bigger than themselves.

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?

In a nutshell - I had a meeting where the parents thought their child would be asked to leave the school because of an incident that occured. In the meeting it was clear how much the family valued Christian Education and what the school had been doing for their child and for them as parents. We shared about the importance of partnership and that we, as the school, were committed to helping them as parents educate their child with us. Upon returning, the student had a complete turn around and has been engaged in their learning, their peer relationships and with their parents ever since. It’s a good reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and that He can and does make a way.