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7 Questions with Karen Spiller
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7 Questions with Karen Spiller
Name: Karen Spiller
Current title: Principal
Current organisation: John Paul College
School Leader for 22 years in independent schools in Queensland. Current Chair of Independent Schools Queensland and past national chair doe the Association of Heads on Independent Schools and the Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia. Current member of both the Independent Schools Australia and Yalari Boards.
Recognized with a Churchill Fellowship in 2011 and an Order of Australia (OAM) in 2
Which option best describes the religious affiliation of the organisation you currently work for or most recently worked for?
Christian religious affiliation
What type of organisation do you work for or support?
School (5-17 y/os)
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader in the education sector?
Supporting Staff Wellbeing as increasing demands are placed on Schools
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
A quiet breakfast on my balcony prepares my mindset for the day; considering what events and meetings are happening, what I have to be prepared for and achieve and also thinking about the rest of the week. AS soon as I get to School I get out and about greeting students, staff and parents. Meeting with my EA first thing in the office assists with organization for the day and next 2 weeks.
At the end of the workday, I prepare my documents and desk for the next day's meetings, wash up my tea cups and head home. On the drive home, I make personal calls and think about the day past and try to leave it behind. At home, I try to relax and refresh.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Always take time to talk with people face to face and show you care about them personally.
4. What's one book 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?
Jim Collins From Good to Great. When I first read this in 2005, it was quite transformational for me; the concept of Good being the enemy of Great and level five leadership together with the description of a level five leader being humble and hungry for their organization, has really influenced my leadership since then.
5. How do you find and keep great leaders in the education sector?
I have always endeavored to 'grow' them. I do all I can to mentor and encourage leaders and to also demonstrate to them the joy and privilege of being a school leader.
6. What's most important as a leader in the education sector for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
I think ensuing everyone understands the WHY of the school I am leading. This helps in setting a common goal and the teamwork approach gives sense to our daily lives. Ensuring there is mutual respect and compassion should inspire care for one another.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader in the education sector so far?
When you are able to support a student (or family) who is going through a tough time. This might include giving financial as well as emotional support, to keep them at school. When you show a student that you believe in them and inspire them to be the best version of themselves they can be. More often than not, years later, you see the positive outcome of that played forward.
We're looking at doing a limited, online 30 minute leadership masterclass in the next couple of months. What topic/s would you find most valuable from a leadership masterclass?
How do you help staff with 'work life balance'?