Dr Michael Slattery brings a wealth of knowledge and extensive experience in the Catholic education sector. For the last seven years he was College Principal at St Edward’s Christian Brothers College, East Gosford. Previously he held leadership positions at the Catholic Schools Office at Broken Bay, including Secondary Schools Consultant and Acting Director.
Michael is a man with a deep commitment to the Catholic faith. He is an active member of his local parish and is chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council at Star of the Sea Parish, Terrigal. He sees himself as “a leader who integrates religious dimensions into all aspects of the educational environment” with an expectation that all members of staff “actively work to ensure the mission of the Church is the first and foremost strategic goal for our schools”.
Michael and Alison have been married for 37 years, have two sons, Matthew and Paul, and a grandchild, Lara Jane. Michael and Alison have an interest in advocacy for the poor and enjoy leading adult and student immersions to ministries and schools in Kenya, East Africa, each year.
Michael was happy to share something of his story and hopes for his new role.
What attracted you to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle?
Firstly, working with a Bishop whom I know to be supportive of the nature and importance of Catholic schools to the Church. Secondly, the challenge of working with a sound leadership team in implementing school improvement in the religious and educational domains in a system which is clearly in growth mode and moving in a positive direction.
What has been a career highlight for you?
Taking up principalship again after working in Catholic system leadership reminded me of the expectations of State, Federal and diocesan demands, especially in relation to the legal issues and audit processes of school governance. Being principal of St Edward’s highlighted the importance and joy of being in a living school community with staff, young people and their parents. It had deep meaning for me, particularly in religious, educational, social justice and sporting encounters with members of the community.
How would you describe your commitment to the Catholic faith as an educational leader?
Every child deserves a quality faith experience in our schools. It is part of our Gospel commitment as Catholic educators to nurture in the hearts and minds of young people a relationship with Jesus. It is central to educational leadership in an authentic Catholic school and to the various religious, educational, social and sporting experiences.
If you were to describe your leadership style in three words, what would they be?
Collaborative – Working with others in a team atmosphere to bring positive change to community.
Passionate – I take leadership responsibility seriously and work hard to make a difference.
Decisive – Making informed decisions in a timely manner.
As a highly accomplished academic, who have been significant influences on your career and education?
My parents for encouraging me to be the first in our family to attain a HSC and a university degree, and my wife Alison for her patience and love whilst enduring 27 years of my study at various universities whilst I worked full-time. Also, the various academic staff at the Australian Catholic University in the Educational Leadership Faculty for their support in lifelong learning.
Having had experience as a teacher, principal and executive at the Catholic Schools Office, what aspects of each role do you think will most contribute to your new role?
Each of these experiences has taught me to be clear about the nature of teaching and leading in a Catholic setting. They will all serve to keep me informed of the craft, ministry and vocation of teaching, and the privilege of serving a Catholic community. Other key skills are planning strategically in collaboration with others, discerning, evaluating and meeting the expectations of the major stakeholders within our chancery, parishes and schools.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role as Director of Schools?
I look forward to visiting each school to encourage members of the community to strive for excellence in learning − learning about their God, about their various key learning areas and about themselves as global citizens with a Christian responsibility for those less fortunate.
No doubt members of school communities are equally keen to welcome Michael to their place.