They’re let­ting go of St Mary’s

Peter Kelly

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - By Ali­son O’Con­nor

The cur­tain is about to be drawn on Peter Kelly’s im­pres­sive ten­ure as St Mary’s Col­lege prin­ci­pal.

Af­ter 26 years at the col­lege, 15 of which have been in charge, it cer­tainly will be the end of an era for Mr Kelly — and St Mary’s.

But a new chap­ter beck­ons for the re­tir­ing prin­ci­pal, who’ll hand over the reins in the lead up to the 2019 school year.

‘‘It’s been hard work and all en­com­pass­ing some­times, but it’s been in­fin­itely re­ward­ing, and I will look back with some very fond mem­o­ries,’’ he said.

‘‘But I think it’s the right time, and the place will re­ally ben­e­fit from hav­ing a new set of eyes over it.’’

Catholic ed­u­ca­tion has been Mr Kelly’s home for his en­tire ca­reer, be­cause it has, as he de­scribed, ‘‘such a great cul­ture that teaches you a lot about re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships’’.

He kicked off his 38-year ca­reer at St Bren­dan’s in Flem­ing­ton, which was fol­lowed by his first teach­ing stint at St Mary’s and then at Sa­cred Heart in Yea where he was prin­ci­pal, be­fore re­turn­ing to St Mary’s in 2002.

There’s a rea­son Mr Kelly has stuck around the col­lege for so long — the staff, stu­dents and their fam­i­lies.

‘‘So much has changed in 20 years — in tech­nol­ogy, in ed­u­ca­tion, and in so­ci­ety — and all the while I feel like St Mary’s has grown and de­vel­oped but we’ve still kept re­ally grounded around our fam­i­lies, and kept a re­ally great staff cul­ture that shows we care for one another, and we take that in to our class­rooms ev­ery day,’’ Mr Kelly said.

‘‘ Our iden­tity as a Catholic school is re­ally im­por­tant, and we’ve been able to strengthen that over the years and strengthen the way our kids see them­selves as learn­ers.

‘‘Re­la­tion­ships are ev­ery­thing for stu­dent out­comes, and that’s why we’re here, to of­fer the best ed­u­ca­tional prospects for ev­ery sin­gle child in this school, and if we can con­tinue to do that St Mary’s will al­ways thrive.’’

Re­tire­ment wasn’t an easy de­ci­sion for Mr Kelly, and he is still filled with mixed emo­tions as it looms closer and closer.

But he’s a man with a plan, and has plenty to keep him busy in to this new phase of life.

‘‘I turn 60 in De­cem­ber and I al­ways had a longterm plan that I wanted to spend the last third of my life do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent to this,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s very dif­fi­cult leav­ing, it’s been such a big part of my life, but it’s on to the next chap­ter now. We will have four grand­kids in two years in April next year so that changes ev­ery­thing.

‘‘I’m happy, sad and re­lieved all at the same time, so it’s very mixed. But I think nei­ther my­self or Brian (O’Dwyer) will ever be strangers to St Mary’s, and from now on we have to let go of stuff and just be­come a friend of St Mary’s and re­ally en­joy that.’’

Friends, col­leagues and fam­i­lies will join Mr Kelly and Mr O’Dwyer to jointly cel­e­brate their re­spec­tive ca­reers to­mor­row, with a mass, morn­ing tea and pre­sen­ta­tion from the stu­dents.

Out­go­ing: Re­tir­ing St Mary’s Col­lege prin­ci­pal Peter Kelly and re­tir­ing teacher Brian O’Dwyer with some of the col­lege’s stu­dents.

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