Mr Geoff Mills
M.F.A., B.A., Grad.Dip.Bus.Admin., Dip.Teach.
TKIS Principal: Dec 2003 to present
• What makes a good school?:
Whenever I'm asked: 'what makes a good school?' ... my answer is simple: 'Good people'.
Education is a 'people business'. So even though curriculum, resources, facilities, reputation, discipline, standards of safety ... all these things are important; it is the 'people' of a school that define it. I should also point out that I don't for a moment believe that there are bad schools in Australia. There are certainly schools who face greater problems than a small private school located in a peaceful village like Kooralbyn face, but it could be argued that those schools are actually doing as good a job as they possibly can, under the circumstances. To at least some extent then, perhaps a good school is one that finds itself in better (or more fortunate) circumstances than others?
For this reason, when the school's founders created the original TKIS back in 1985, they looked for a peaceful, rural setting, far from the pressures and problems associated with inner-city schools. They ensured by design, that TKIS would always remain a small school, believing that the benefits of an intimate 'village setting' far outweighed its handicaps. They sought to set the school in an environment surrounded by outstanding facilities for industries like golf, tennis, equestrian, aviation, athletics, swimming, tourism and hospitality. They established the highest standards in discipline, respect, cultural diversity and self-belief within the school's ethos...
In short, they looked to establish a set of circumstances for Kooralbyn, that would forever enhance its chances of being a good school. It was these fortunate circumstances that I inherited in 2003 when I took up the position of CEO and Principal for the new TKIS school board and it was my objective then (as it is today) to surround myself with the most passionate and inventive teachers, the most empathetic and hard-working support staff and the most dedicated pastoral care professionals I could find.
I am pleased to say that since coming to Kooralbyn over fifteen years ago, I have been fortunate to work with some of the best people I have met in my life. It is their dedication and enthusiasm that inspires and motivates our students and continues to inspire and motivate me.
It is not surprising then, that I believe Kooralbyn to be a great school. What might be surprising however, is why I believe it so. It isn't our staff, (though I doubt there are better anywhere in the country). It isn't the fortunate surroundings we find ourself located within (though I doubt there are many schools in the country as lucky as we are in that respect). And it certainly isn't the facilities and resources that a small school like ours is capable of providing. No ... what in my opinion makes TKIS a great school, is its students. Amidst a generation that too often looks for the 'easy way', the popular option or the instant answer; the students of Kooralbyn continually demonstrate their determination, their self-discipline and their belief in the notion that hard work and high standards are something to be inherently proud of. Of course we lose a lot of students each year to the influence of 'modern apathy' and 'youth culture peer pressure'. It is all too easy for young people these days to complain about having to get their hair cut, or not being able to wear piercings or make-up or having to wear their uniform in exactly the correct way. For such students, the idea of appearing 'cool' to their peers is far more important than appearing dedicated to their teachers or demonstrating what is almost considered dirty words these days: a respect for authority.
But those young people who find the inner strength to overcome these peer pressures and embrace the school's high standards of dress, behaviour and work ethic are all-the-better for it, because they find themselves part of an ever-diminishing minority ... that small percentage of their generation who have discovered the rewarding habit of hard work, self-discipline, respect for authority and goal-focused learning.
I am in constant admiration of our students and like their parents, I am unashamedly proud of their efforts.
Yes .... what makes a good school? Good people.