Teaching creates strong principles

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
Alison Burnley has signed on for the long haul at Bunbury Baptist College.
Camera IconAlison Burnley has signed on for the long haul at Bunbury Baptist College. Credit: South Western Times, Callum Hunter

Starting and running a school almost from scratch is no easy feat and would be a daunting prospect for most people, but Bunbury Baptist College’s inaugural principal Alison Burnley is not most people.

“I was born in Wyalkatchem in the Wheatbelt and grew up in the Wheatbelt,” she said.

“I’ve then spent time in Queensland and at another school in Mandurah, but given the opportunity to move back to a country location, especially the South West which is just so beautiful, I jumped at the chance.”

Alison moved to the South West last year after the vacant campus of the former Ocean Forest Lutheran College was bought by Baptist Education Resources to take the reigns as the inaugural principal, coincidently her first time in the top job.

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“I’ve been in education for the whole of my adult life,” she said.

“I felt called to teaching as a young person so I’ve been teaching since I was 22.”

In the years since then, Alison has spent most of her career teaching English and humanities in secondary schools before she expanded her horizons to take on upper primary and most recently, the principals position at Bunbury Baptist College.

While she never expected the top job to be easy, Alison admitted her new roll had proved more difficult than she anticipated at times but said she was given daily reminders as to why she does what she does.

“I’ve seen such wonderful things happen this year,” she said.

“To go from no children on the site to 250 on site to more than 400 next year, is such a privilege and watching happy children makes my job worthwhile.”

Away from work, family time is the top priority for the dedicated educator while solo time is soaked up either reading or getting back to basics outdoors, one of the many perks she identified with moving to the South West.

“The family have loved moving down here,” she said.

While Alison said she was looking forward to a little more personal time once the school was operating at full capacity, she also said she was in her role for the long haul and looked to the future with eager anticipation.

More than 400 students will walk through the gates at the start of the 2020 school year, with them and their families having been interviewed by Alison before their enrolment was accepted.

“I personally speak to every family and talk to them about the college and get to know them before they enter the school,” she said.

“It’s very important to me that I know the families in the school and I know the children.”

Every morning and afternoon, parents and students can find Alison mingling with the students as she goes on crosswalk duty, doing her part to create and build positive relationships with the families of her school.

“I have committed my life to children,” she said.

“Since the day I felt pulled to teaching, everything I have done has been to help children.”

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