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 Founding principal appointed for Riverland college


The inaugural principal has been appointed for the new Catholic secondary college which is set to open at Renmark in 2022.

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Nathan Hayes will lead St Francis of Assisi College, that will cater for up to 360 students from Years 7 to 12. He will play an instrumental role in the development and establishment of the $19.5 million college which will provide a secondary Catholic education option for all students across the Riverland region.

Mr Hayes brings extensive regional Catholic education experience, having taught at St Mark’s College, Port Pirie, followed by leadership roles including nine years as deputy principal at St Joseph’s School, Port Lincoln and Tenison Woods College, Mount Gambier.

Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Port Pirie, welcomed and commended Mr Hayes as a significant religious and educational leader into this “providential role”.

In recent years, Mr Hayes has used his extensive Reception to Year 12 educational expertise as a leadership and education consultant, working with school leaders and systems around Australia to develop positive cultures, leadership, and school improvement.

“I am delighted to welcome Nathan to the Riverland Catholic community and the Diocese of Port Pirie,” said Nichii Mardon, director, Catholic Education Diocese of Port Pirie.

“I am confident that his deep faith commitment, extensive career in Catholic education, and high level interpersonal and professional qualities, skills and knowledge will enable Nathan to successfully lead the St Francis of Assisi community.”

Mr Hayes said he and his wife Tamara were looking forward to getting involved in the Riverland community, including the local parishes.

“Like all regional communities in South Australia, the Riverland community is full of parents committed to providing a great family life and a future full of opportunity and choice for their children,” he said.

“Our family is no different in this respect, and I am really looking forward to becoming part of the local community and parish with my wife Tamara and our three children. Tamara grew up in Renmark and still has family in the Riverland, so we have been regular visitors to the region for around 20 years.

“I look forward to getting to know and understand what is important to the families and young people in this community, partnering with the existing Catholic parish primary schools in the Riverland to continue their good work as well as welcoming families from all corners of the region.”

Mr Hayes said the first thing that attracted him to the job was the opportunity to be involved in providing a complete Catholic education pathway as an option for families in the Riverland.

“As principal of the college, I am committed to leading a school community that provides a personalised and flexible learning pathway that prioritises the wellbeing of each and every student,” he said.

“Also, given the strong connection to and reliance on the local environment for our lifestyle, livelihood and leisure, the college focus on Integral Ecology that will underpin everything is really exciting to me. This centres on the responsibility we all have to be conscious citizens and think beyond ourselves when it comes to respecting our environment and its resources, as individuals and as a collective.”

Mr Hayes said he will be committed to looking at ways the college can develop partnerships with local government and industry to provide opportunities for students to pursue their learning and employment journey in the local region.

“The ongoing success of industries such as tourism, agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and manufacturing are crucial to the future of the region and also present great opportunity for young people in the region moving forward.”

In addition to the principal announcement, work is continuing to establish St Francis of Assisi College.

An Advisory Committee comprising Riverland locals has been meeting regularly, providing strong regional perspectives and input into planning, including consultation to develop the college values and logo.

College building designs are well progressed and aligned with the innovative curriculum plan, and work relating to the site is continuing.


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