16 May, 2023
Long Serving School Principal Retires
Dr Shaun Kanowski has announced his intention to retire at the end of the School Term. We put some questions to him.
When did you commence at Allora P-10?
I commenced working at Allora P-10 State School in 2002.
How long have you been with the Queensland Department of Education (DoE) and previous Schools?
I was first appointed to the DoE in the mid-late ‘80s and by the end of that decade, became a school principal. My schools include Capella P-12 State School (near Emerald), Beardmore State School (near Saint George), where I was a teaching principal and taught students in years 1-7 in the one classroom, Bajool State School (near Rockhampton), Glenden P-12 State School (near Mackay) and then Allora P-10 State School.
Changes you have seen in your time at Allora?
Since arriving in Allora, I have noticed significant changes in the last 22 years. Although our enrolments have fluctuated over the years, we still provide an educational service for around 235 students. Where once the majority of our students came from surrounding properties, we are seeing the emergence of more and more town families (including from Warwick) enrolling their children in our school. This has brought with it both opportunities and challenges. Students from disadvantaged home environments and students presenting with disabilities and social / emotional difficulties is also on the rise, making the landscape of education necessitate an inclusive approach. Easier said than done!
Our school has also seen some structural changes in my time as principal. In 2002, we moved into our new administration block. When this block was officially opened in October of that year by our Education Minister, our then, P&C President, had the nous to walk her over to our existing home economics block, which was built in the ‘30s. Low and behold, we received a new catering facility two years later. In 2007, we saw a major change in the approach to early childhood education with the transition away from pre-school to prep. Our pre-school, one of the first in the state, ran from 1974 – 2006. Major works commenced on our pre-school building to convert it into an engaging and fit-for-purpose prep centre. This included the removal of the fence surrounding the pre-school, which was symbolic - removing the barrier separating it from our main school. This ensured inclusion for our prep students and staff. In addition to prep, 2007 saw the Rudd government initiative, Building Education Revolution, impact on our facilities. In the coming years, we would receive a new library and Performing Arts Hall. This enabled the former library to be converted into an adequate Staffroom – something the school had never had previously. In 2015, we saw year 7 move from primary into the secondary space to align with other states and territories. Whilst this change did not impact us as a P-10 school, there were certainly some adjustments to be made.
Something that has never changed in my time at Allora, is the strong sense of community that is instantly apparent when you come to the best little town on the downs. Whether it be the Allora Show Society, Kennel Club, RSL, Sports Club, local businesses and indeed, our lovely school, the pride exuded in our town is something to behold. The school community have always been supportive and have worked hard to ensure our students have the best possible opportunities and facilities available. This includes a committed and caring staff, who constantly put the educational and wellbeing interests of our students first.
Highlight of your career?
There have been so many highlights throughout my career and in my time at Allora. Seeing a student who has commenced our school in prep and graduate in Year 10, then go on to be successful at their next phase(s) of learning and into their work-life, is always a highlight for me – it nourishes the soul and reminds us all why we became educators.
Our school’s sesquicentennial in 2017, where we celebrated 150 years of state education in Allora, will always feature amongst my highlights. The school community, who came forth to lend a hand in planning this event in the years leading up to the celebration, was overwhelming and greatly appreciated. It was a wonderful event for our school.
In 2004, I was nominated and voted into the position of state president of the Queensland State P-10/12 School Administrators’ Association – a position I held for the next ten years. This gave our school, and schools like ours, a voice within the hierarchy of state government and the DoE. Our association were able and continue to advocate for positive change, both subtle and more overt, which benefits the students and staff in all P-10/12 schools throughout Queensland.
Then of course, when the time was right, I returned to formal study, completing my PhD in 2020, during COVID. This degree has enabled me to peruse a career in university post principalship.
And, if there’s anything you’d like to add.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as principal of Allora P-10 State School and will watch with interest how the school progresses in the coming years. Most of all, I will miss the students on a day-to-day basis. Being called Mr. Hay by Charlie, Mr. K by Hamish or Mrs Kanowski by Harry, skipping a rope with Mackenzie, playing table tennis and handball with Cal and others, teaching recorder, coaching tennis and high jump, all of which bring joy. My best wishes to the school community for a prosperous future. Thank you and goodbye – Dr Shaun Kanowski.