For the Whole of Their Life.

My Life as a Registrar: Making New Families Feel Welcome

Posted 16th February 2021
By Ellie Rolfe

My role as Registrar is an unusual one. Most jobs in schools relate to the day-to-day education and care of children and young people; but not mine. I’m responsible for the process of enrolling students; unenrolling students; the maintenance of your family’s address and contact records whilst you’re here; and a pile of statistical data collections required every year by the Australian Government, and the Foundation which owns and operates our school. Oh, and tours. Tours are the best part of my job – showing prospective families our facilities and students. So last year’s COVID ‘lockout’ of non-essential visitors on site changed my job a lot.

I’m usually the first person parents speak to when they contact the College enquiring about an enrolment. But the weirdness of last year – no tours, and online Zoom enrolment interviews – means there are lots of new 2021 parents out there that I’ve never met in person but chatted to on the phone!

Welcoming people is all about communication. Answering questions as fully and accurately as I can; providing information in a timely fashion; and being organised, which means not creating unnecessary ‘roadblocks’ in the enrolment process by being inefficient. In this latter area, my life and reputation are saved daily by my colleague Kath Hirons, who is the other half of the Registrar team. She is super-organised, and super-efficient.

Welcoming people is also about attitude. This is now my 31st year working at St Philip’s. For 25 years I was the Head of the Visual Arts Department at SPCC Newcastle in Waratah. I feel strongly that ex-teachers, especially ex-St Philip’s teachers, make surprisingly good Registrars, in that I can not only talk about how education in NSW works generally, and the history and nature of the school; but also, about WHY we exist. We exist to be an education community centred on Jesus Christ. For us – every member of staff at St Philip’s – Jesus has saved us from our selfishness, our doubts, our desperation and our silly decisions. He provides hope, and a purpose for our lives. He provides love, and a community where we can love and be loved in return. If you applied for enrolment and joined St Philip’s because there was ‘something different’ about us, that’s what it is. We’re not a trying to be an elite private school. We don’t exist to be ‘better’; we exist to be different.

When tours during school time come back on-line in the future, it’ll be my pleasure to show new families our College when your fabulous kids are present, and together we can observe them learning. In the meantime, I hope all parents feel a part of this unique school community, where love, grace and forgiveness are at the heart of our mission and practice. I hope you feel welcome.

Lindsay O'Reilly


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