7 Questions with Rhonda Davis

Name: Rhonda Davis

Current title: Principal

Current organisation: Good Shepherd Christian School

I am a Christian educator and have worked across a wide range of fields in education, leadership, management and business. I have a strong commitment to Christian education and seek to serve schools and families as they disciple and nurture their children in the Lord.

I have been involved in Christian education for over 35 years in a variety of roles; Principal, teacher, Head of Department, curriculum writer, Academic Adviser, teacher coach and professional development trainer.

I am passionate about developing and growing teams who work together to achieve shared goals and visions Some of these goals have included: directing a newly established Early Childhood Centre, establishing two new schools, establishing and leading a learning support unit in schools, and initiating and managing several church based ministries.

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

The biggest challenge is helping families understand that teachers care for their child/ren and are on their side when it comes to seeing their child/ren grow and develop.

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

I am committed to maintaining a life/work balance.
• Maintain a morning routine
• Arrive early for work
• Check today’s calendar appointments; get the ‘big picture’ of the day in my mind
• Check today’s priorities – these I had already identified yesterday and written down
• Walk around the school and greet all staff before classes start
• Read emails – prioritise these
- Answer any that only require a quick response; 1 minute of less
- Answer emails that are high priority for that day
• Work on task priorities that have been identified for today
• If time allows, begin working on lower level priorities
• 3:15pm – respond to any emails that arrived during the day and can’t wait until tomorrow
• 3:30pm Print tomorrow’s daily calendar; prioritise tasks for tomorrow (write these down)
• Leave work no later than 5pm
• Do not take work home
• Spend the evening with family and/or church ministry

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

I have currently been challenged while reading the book Ordering Your Private World by Gordan MacDonald.

This book helped me to identify that my calling as a Christian school leader is to encourage staff and students, to strengthened them in their spiritual growth and walk with the Lord. My endeavour is that all staff and students who are a part of the school community will grow and become better equipped professionally and spiritually from their time at our school.

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?

Book: The Heart of the Matter by Frank Hamrick
This book deepened by commitment to disciple our students spiritually as a first priority. As we endeavour to help students succeed academically, we also help students to grow spiritually and become godly young people who strive to walk with Him and desire to serve Him.

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

Our recruitment process is very up front about our desire for staff to be Christians. We require three references will one of them being from their current church Pastor or leader. We seek Christian teachers who have a sense of calling and ministry to Christian education and commitment to discipling young people. This creates a long-lasting team of like-minded people.

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

As a Christian school leader, it is important to be a participatory leader; working alongside teachers as we make decisions together that affect them, giving teachers freedom to make decisions and implement their own ideas. It is important to foster a collegial support network where staff watch out for, encourage, and support each other.

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?

One of the most rewarding experiences was when I was working with a 12 year old girl who has autism. The girl never responded to her environment or any person who attempted to interacted with her other than her mother. After working with her for several months, when it seemed like no impact or progress was being made, the girl spontaneously reached out and hugged me and said, “Love”. Her mother sat crying as she witnessed this happen, it was the first time in 12 years that her daughter had responded in anyway to another person. The little girl’s expression of love revealed the loving heart that she had but had no way of communicating this until now.

This had a flow-on affect not just for the girl, but also for her parents and other staff. The Lord showed us that every child is important, and every child can express the love of God no matter their circumstance or challenges.