Three school leaders from South Australia have been officially recognised for their dedication to education and professional learning in the annual John Laing Awards for Professional Development, managed by Principals Australia Institute.
Angela Falkenberg (Marryatville Primary School), Paul Rijken (Cardijn College and Marcellin Technical College), and Peter Mader (President, SA Secondary Principals Association) had their commitment to education and consistent demonstration of outstanding school leadership recognised at a special presentation in Adelaide today, attended by South Australian Minister for Education and Child Development, the Hon Susan Close MP.
L-R: Principals Australia Institute Board Member Grant Bock, Paul Rijken, Angela Falkenberg, Peter Mader, and Minister for Education and Child Development, the Hon Susan Close MP.
Each of the recipients is an outstanding school leader and has made substantial contributions to education in SA through strategic senior leadership roles over a considerable time. They have been responsible for working with other senior educators to build leaders’ capacity.
The John Laing Awards acknowledge principals in every state and territory who demonstrate outstanding leadership in providing professional learning in government, Catholic and independent schools. They celebrate the contribution principals make to support the professional learning and development of teachers and other school leaders.
Set up in 2004, the Awards honour John Laing, a former Tasmanian school principal who worked for PAI (the then Australian Principals Association Professional Development Council). He was the motivating force behind the innovative initiative in the early 1990s to bring principals together for national professional learning projects and programs to support their role as school leaders.
A brief bio of each SA recipient follows.
Angela Falkenberg (Marryatville Primary School)
Angela has chosen to dedicate her professional career to the upliftment of less-privileged communities. She has extensive leadership experience across a variety of industries including counselling, recruitment, curriculum, indigenous education, special education, health as well as being a deputy school principal and principal.
Angela has a proven track record of leading professional learning initiatives for her staff to ensure they are confident in their ability to become the best educators they can be. She has developed a learning-focused culture with a focus on high performance at schools she has led, building strong teams of educators.
Her commitment is also reflected in her role as an assessor for highly accomplished and ‘lead’ teachers and as a review principal for the SA External School reviews. She has undertaken extensive professional development studies including the Principal as Literacy program as well as the Positive Psychology program of the University of Pennsylvania, which helps school leaders meet the emerging challenge of mental health in the school environment. Angela also spent time in the UK undertaking the AITSL Flagship Professional Learning: Local Leadership program which enabled her to implement improvement processes at school level.
Paul Rijken has been principal of Cardijn College in Noarlunga Downs since 2005 and also Principal of Marcellin Technical College since 2016. He is described as an innovative and motivated leader and has overseen significant professional development in his schools which has permeated through Catholic Education SA. Paul builds strong relationships and is an effective leader of change. He values academic learning and the lens it provides to understanding teaching and learning.
As Principal of Cardijn College, a school with a large number of early-career teachers, Paul has consistently demonstrated aspirational leadership and has enabled staff to qualify as highly accomplished and ‘lead’ teachers, enabling them to embark on their own school leadership journey.
Throughout his career, Paul has promoted professional learning through his capacity to engage all staff with projects aligned with the school’s strategic goals. He also actively encourages teachers to undertake further study.
In recent years, Paul has led a system-wide initiative for school improvement through teacher feedback involving over 30 schools. The project, through Curtin University, began at Cardijn College under Paul’s leadership. He has worked very closely with all of the other principals who participate in the program and has led study tours to explore optimal teaching and learning environments. Data is used to evaluate student learning experiences and student voice is always at the heart of this data. Paul’s research promotes collaborative learning models and encourages schools to build a culture of continuous learning.
Paul’s education initiatives stem from evidence-based research. He is committed to achieving the best possible student outcomes and is a strong advocate for teaching professionalism.
Peter Mader (SASPA)
Peter is a committed lifelong learner who always actively engages in and seeks out opportunities for personal growth. He has played a pivotal role in building the capacity of leaders across the state’s secondary education landscape as President of SASPA from 2015 to present.
Peter has identified education thought-leaders at the forefront of the profession to facilitate professional learning programs for school leaders in topics such as Mindful Assessment and Trust & Distrust in Educational Settings. He regularly mentors leaders as SASPA President and through the DECD New Leader Advisor program, which he identified the need for and designed in conjunction with DECD. He also plays a strong role in advocating for public education and the interests of state secondary leaders.
Professional Learning events he has designed and facilitated for state secondary leaders with SASPA include:
• SASPA Aspiring Leaders Program (2015 & 2016 with approximately 45 participants per year, has national recognition and has been supported by DECD with a number of the participants moving into leadership positions after the program)
• 2015, 2016 & 2017 SASPA Annual conferences that have had a significant audience growth rate each year.
• 2015, 2016 & 2017 SASPA/DECD SACE Improvement & STEM in SACE Conferences (working closely with DECD to ensure data is used to identify evidence based practice for improved learning outcomes for young people)
• Leadership Selection Processes
• Wellbeing Forum
• Succession planning
• Scheduling for 21st C learning
• Enriching Year 8 Maths
• Internationalising Education Forum
Peter seeks to understand the professional learning needs of school leaders and responds by providing high quality and timely professional learning opportunities. He is a highly effective communicator and facilitator evidenced by extensive experience of presenting to diverse national, international, and state based audiences.
Previous to being President of SASPA Peter held Principal positions in Salisbury East High School and Hamilton Secondary College. Before becoming a principal, Peter managed leadership capacity of school leaders in state-wide initiatives including School-based Research & Reform (1998 – 2000) and the Key Competencies Project (1996 -1997).