Top marks for prin­ci­pal

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Front Page - Kaylee Martin

BEL­MONT City Col­lege prin­ci­pal Dar­rell Le Mercier has been named WA Sec­ondary School Leader of the Year.

DAR­RELL Le Mercier be­gan his jour­ney at Bel­mont City Col­lege as a teacher and now, about 20 years later, he has been crowned WA Sec­ondary School Leader of the Year.

Now prin­ci­pal of the col­lege, Mr Le Mercier was nom­i­nated in the 2015 WA Ed­u­ca­tion Awards by the school board.

As de­serv­ing of the award as he was, he was still hes­i­tant about step­ping into the spot­light.

“I was a bit of a re­luc­tant con­tender; I don’t like pub­lic ac­co­lades be­cause it makes me a bit un­com­fort­able,” Mr Le Mercier said.

“But then I started to see it as more of a cel­e­bra­tion of us at the school.”

Mr Le Mercier’s lead­er­ship has seen the trans­for­ma­tion of Bel­mont City Col­lege into an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre with a com­pet­i­tive edge in sport, arts and aca­demics.

“Over the years, Bel­mont Col­lege was los­ing the best pri­mary school kids in our area. They were go­ing to pri­vate schools or spe­cial­ist pro­grams else­where,” Mr Le Mercier said.

“So I thought if that’s the case, what­ever we’re offering isn’t good enough.”

To make a change, Mr Le Mercier in­sti­tuted the A Plus Aca­demic Ex­ten­sion Pro­gram, a test-only en­try aca­demic en­rich­ment pro­gram.

“I’m a great be­liever that ev­ery­thing I do needs to be au­then­tic and have in­te­gri- ty,” Mr Le Mercier said.

“The stu­dents have to meet a cer­tain stan­dard. Now we’ve banded with UWA so stu­dents have ac­cess to lots of ac­tiv­i­ties there.”

Com­ple­ment­ing the en­rich­ment pro­gram, Mr Le Mercier and the Col­lege staff in­tro­duced a com­pet­i­tive vis­ual arts and drama pro­gram, as well as a more pro­nounced fo­cus on sport.

And with a stu­dent body with about 55 dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties, Mr Le Mercier said the di­ver­sity gave the school a won­der­ful har­mo­nious at­mos­phere.

“Many of our kids are refugees or their par­ents have come on 457 visas, so th­ese kids are as­pi­rant; they really value ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

Ed­u­ca­tor ex­traor­di­naire: Prin­ci­pal Dar­rel Le Mercier with stu­dents Brett Lis­saman and Corey Ohn-Khin.

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