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Strong faith guides young principal


A committed Catholic, family man, Vinnies volunteer, educator and musician, Adam Slater is loving his latest role as the new principal of St Joseph’s Memorial School, Norwood.

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The only ‘new’ principal to be appointed by Catholic Education SA in 2023, Adam is also one of the youngest, at just 38 years of age.

Speaking before the mayhem of the new school year began, the father of three said he had always aspired to be an educator, describing it as “the best job in the world”.

“My mum is a teacher, my mother-in-law is a teacher,” he said. “Growing up, at this time of the year I would go into my Mum’s school and help her set up the classroom. From an early age I always knew education was where I wanted to be.

“It’s a great way to have a positive impact on other people.”

The former St Paul’s College student started his teaching career at his old school and within the first year was given a Position of Responsibility for student leadership.

“I’ve been pretty lucky that people have seen things in me as a leader early on…and I’ve been fortunate to have some great mentors along the way.”

Moving to lead St Joseph’s after spending eight years at Holy Family School, Parafield Gardens, where he was deputy principal, Adam said one of his first jobs on the ‘to do’ list was to get to know the students and their families.

“I will be at the front gate every morning welcoming them and getting to know everyone,” he said. “I want to speak to every family within the first term – and really listen.

“My three goals for the start of 2023 are to build relationships, build on the incredible culture here and deepen our practices, what can I do to help enhance what we do?

“The great thing about being a principal coming into this role, is that I’m really aware of the vision in Catholic Education’s ‘Expanding Horizons and Deepening Practices’ strategy document and where we are going as a system. It makes it great for a leader like myself to know where we are going and how we are going to get there.

“It gives us a common language and provides a really strong culture.”

Living by the motto, “leave people better off for having known you”, Adam packs a lot into his week.

He is an active member of the Dernancourt parish. His wife Laura, along with 10-year-old twins Davis and Summer and 1-year-old Lily, had a momentous year in 2022. The twins, who attend St Francis Xavier School, Wynn Vale, completed the sacramental program at St David’s, Tea Tree Gully and Lily was baptised at St Pius X, Dernancourt.

An important part of his life is volunteering with Vinnies’ Dernancourt conference.

“I see that as my faith in action and it gives me something I can do to help others,” Adam said.

“The thing I love the most about my volunteering with Vinnies is that my children are now starting to help out too. One of the jobs I do is to sort through the donated goods brought to the church and now the twins have started helping with that.”

As a principal with a strong faith, Adam said he was committed to continuing to forge the connection that already exists between the Norwood parish under the pastoral care of the Jesuits and the school.

“Fr Chris (Jenkins) is an incredible faith leader who works closely with the whole school community at St Joseph’s Memorial School.”

Adam, who has a Master of Educational Leadership and is currently bridging into a PhD at the University of Adelaide, said one of his interests in education is new technologies.

In 2019 he became an accredited Apple Distinguished Educator and helped to establish a monthly Twitter chat where education leaders from the Asia-Pacific region exchange ideas on specific new technologies.

“Each time we have 50-100 leaders and teachers from Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore,” he said.

“We’re discussing the new frontier of educational technology – topics such as redefinition, design thinking, augmented reality, virtual reality – and what are the best of the best doing in these areas to have an impact on their staff and learners.

“For an hour we have a deeper dive into how the technology is relevant, how do the children engage with it, how does it help teaching and learning, and what’s the evidence of the impact it has.

“Being involved broadens your networks and it provides greater perspective on how different teachers and systems look at technology for a positive impact on learning and teacher practice.”

And in the spare moments when he is not at school or helping to ferry his children to their sports, Adam also finds time to nourish his love of music.

A member of the Catholic Schools Music Festival committee, he plays the guitar and during his university days toured with a band. Nowadays he says one of the greatest honours is being asked to play acoustic guitar at a friend’s wedding.


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