The remarkable journey of Christian College Geelong over the past four decades has seen it grow to become one of Victoria’s largest independent schools.
Chief executive Daryl Riddle OAM and principal at the school for its first three decades, joins with current principal Glen McKeeman to tell the college’s unfolding story.
In the beginning
“Christian College Geelong was established in 1980 as a small, independent, parent-controlled school with 60 students … Teaching took place in several rented classrooms at Augustine’s Orphanage in Highton,” Mr Riddle says.
“As generations of students have passed through the college, times have changed dramatically, as have educational content and pedagogy.
“Students who graduated in the early 1990s, when the college first extended its programs to incorporate VCE, learned very different things and in very different ways from their own children who have graduated in the past few years.”
Enrolments today exceed 2000 students, across two kindergartens, five campuses, and a working farm in Scotsburn near Ballarat.
The college also runs its own extensive 30-vehicle bus fleet to all areas of Geelong, along the Bellarine Peninsula and parts of the Surf Coast.
“Extensive programs, recognised statewide, nationally and internationally for their excellence, include such areas as Music, LOTE, Outdoor and Environmental Education and the various ‘Our World’ electives.
“The college has developed profound and long-standing friendships with schools and other communities in Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor, and remote regions of Central Australia.”
Unique year 9 transformation
Mr McKeeman says this program offers students a full term of experiential learning.
“It includes a five-week residential experience taking on a range of responsibilities at our ‘Back Creek Farm’, and five weeks on campus in an ‘industrial space’.
“The learning is cross-disciplinary, guided by the students, and explores each student’s personal character, their place in the world and how they can make a difference in both these environments.”
What hasn’t changed
Mr Riddle says that while developments over time have been exciting – and there are plenty more on the drawing board – some aspects haven’t changed in 40 years.
“Regardless of student enrolment numbers or breadth and depth of educational offerings, the heart of the college is unchanged, remaining true to its Christian calling, and five core values of hope, faith, love, grace and truth,” he says.
“We believe in servanthood – Jesus taught us to be unselfish, compassionate and servant-hearted. By emulating these traits, we can make a difference in the world.
“Education is about nurturing a student’s whole character and not just those areas of educational process the world suggests are the most important. Our college’s philosophy speaks about all aspects of the person as being important and in balance.”
Mr McKeeman agrees and says he wants students to leave with far more than just a score.
“We celebrate every student’s gifts and talents, and achievements at all levels,” he says.
“We place a high value on academic excellence, but equally significant are the many other individual stories of achievement and fulfillment that reflect our desire to develop pathways for all students, whatever their abilities, passions, career and life goals.”
The principal and chief executive share the belief that a school is truly successful when it wholly embraces its responsibility to nurture individuals, and helps them tease out, discover and explore their own pathways.
“This enables them to flourish, to be the best people they can be, to make a positive impact on their own worlds and find fulfillment throughout their life journeys,” Mr McKeeman states.
And from Mr Riddle: “This is the true measure of the success of Christian College Geelong over 40 years, and will continue to be its benchmark for decades to come.”
Christian College Geelong, 18 Burdekin Road, Highton. Inquiries: 5241 1899 or www.christiancollege.vic.edu.au