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7 Questions with Warren Melville
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Warren Melville
Name: Warren Melville
Current title: Principal
Current organisation: Dubbo Christian School
Born and raised in New Zealand. Worked in New Zealand secondary schools all over the country in various pastoral care and leadership roles. Moved to Australia in 2003 to take up the role of Deputy Principal at Dubbo Christian School. Fell in love with Christian education and has been Principal of Dubbo Christian School for 12 years.
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
There are lots of challenges but the hardest for me is working through situations with staff or students who have really done the wrong thing. Trying to work these things through in a way that reflects our Christian community can be hard.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My day starts early with Bible reading and reflection. I either turn up to work between 7:00am and 8:00am depending on what my day looks like. We have staff devotions which is my favourite part of the day then I connect with my secretary to ensure my day is coordinated. Meetings/appointments/interviews/classroom walkthroughs make up the day in various ways. I always make time to be out and about at recess and/or lunch and certainly at the end of the day. I try to be out of the office by 5:00pm. I look forward to family time before doing more work in the evening, except on Bible Study night!
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
That a leader is, and perhaps should be, expendable. Watching the school operate and grow while I took significant leave last year was both humbling and satisfying.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
'Necessary Endings' by Henry Cloud. Thinking about and implementing the principles of difficult conversations and bringing closure to tricky matters has strengthened an area of my leadership that wasn't a strength before hand. Having the courage to do something hard in order to produce something better has been a significant growth area for me.
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
I'm blessed each year to witness God's goodness and faithfulness at work in this area. Prayer is key as is good mentoring and support mechanisms. Building excellence and capacity through good PD, leadership opportunity and putting effort into what it means to work in a Christian school are also important. Holding teachers lightly is also something I do. God gives and takes away, He is sovereign and calls His people to be where He wants them to be. Who am I to stand in the way of that? He always provides!
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Bringing the A game: authenticity, agency, acknowledgement and appreciation. I'm a great fan of Sergiovanni's thinking in this area, in particular his identification of 'lifeworld' and 'systemsworld'. Intentional building of lifeworld in a school builds culture, safety and wellbeing.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a Christian school leader so far?
This is an almost impossible question to answer. I guess for me, it was the story of a Year 9 student who enrolled at our school from a difficult background. Her previous schooling experience was not great. Some weeks after starting, she sought the duty teacher out waiting for her bus after school and told them she wanted to give her life to Jesus and could they help her do that. She had listened in Biblical Studies and was convicted that God was real and that Jesus was her Saviour. She became a Christian that day and went on to graduate Year 12 and went to University with a passion to follow God's leading for her life. There's so much more in this story: the impact on her family, the turnaround from behaviours that had been problematic, the joy she possessed. There are lots of similar stories and it reminds me of what is important in the work I do each day. Seeing lives transformed and God being central in the life of the school gives me great joy. That's meaningful, and it's God who brings the meaning.