There are a few new faces on our Primary Years Campus and one who is a complete natural at getting to know our students and helping them feel at ease is our Assistant Head of Primary, John Heydon.
He seems to be an expert on all things that interest our young boys and girls and has the knack of bringing the quiet ones out of their shell. Visible out and about on campus for much of the day, John takes time to engage in conversations about Lego Minecraft or whether the tooth fairy might visit and to take an interest in what is front of mind for our youngest students.
‘The research says that if you feel happy to come to school, you feel safe and you have friends that’s the most important thing. This is primarily what parents want,’ John says.
‘And when you build an environment like that, people learn.’
Easing anxiety seems to be John’s speciality. But along with looking after everyone’s wellbeing, his position also entails organising the day-to-day organisation of the Primary Years.
He enjoys getting to know students and teachers and much of his day is spent dropping in on classrooms, successfully coaxing reluctant children into class and organising playground equipment and activities to make lunch and recess the best it can be for the children.
‘I want to see lots of play and activities to keep children engaged. If we play well and come into the classroom relaxed that comes across into our learning. If we are stressed and upset or we’ve had a bad play or didn’t feel safe in the playground, that negatively affects our learning in the afternoon’.
John is working on this by assigning different areas to different types of play and obtaining more equipment for our children to play with.
‘The more things they have to do, the more engaged they are in play, the better everyone’s day. I’m very big on imaginative play – being able to get students imagine and be creative is what the future is all about.’
John always speaks of his work from the perspective of students. ‘We really need to connect with the students and see what their needs are’.
But he started out his career working in foreign exchange in a bank – long days in a windowless room took their toll and he changed to teaching as he realised this was where he could really make a difference. He retrained and now has a several degrees in education and educational leadership as well as having undertaken courses in growth and in Religious Education. Employed for many years by Sydney Catholic Schools, John worked in a number of teaching, administrative and leadership positions, enjoying the challenges of each.
‘Schools are rich and exciting places full of change and surprises’, he says.
With his calm and kind manner, his wish to get to know all students, and his approach to running Del Monte in a student-centred way, we can all count on John being available to all of his students at no notice and with all the time each interaction needs. He is spending most of his time getting to know the people and the workings of our Primary Campus but when he does take a break it’s for long walks with his adult children, conversations with his seven siblings and the occasional round of golf.