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For the Whole of Their Life.

Why Am I Still Here? 30 Years with St Philip's

Posted 27th June 2018
By Ellie Rolfe

In January 1991, as a bright and shiny 32-year old Visual Arts teacher fresh from six years’ teaching in NSW State high schools; I walked into my first class at St Philip’s Christian College Waratah to commence a new stage of my life as a teacher in a Christian School. SPCC was then just a single school, apparently (I was told by outsiders) ‘on the lunatic fringe of education’, and it had just over 400 children in its care. Now, in mid-2018 there are 4000 students in St Philip’s uniforms in four K-12 schools, three DALE special schools and two Young Parent Program schools.

After 25 years as the Visual Arts Coordinator at SPCC Newcastle, I left the classroom at the end of 2015 to join the Cessnock SPCC community as Registrar. In this role I look after enrolments and student and parent records for this constantly changing, growing and vibrant school. I love the new role, and am sometimes asked why I have stuck with the one employer for so long – what makes St Philip’s worth belonging to?

Well, for starters it is an organisation led by Godly men and women who commit everything to prayer before making decisions; they don’t rely upon the ‘spirit of the times’, or popular opinion, or what is trendy in education at the time. They seek wisdom in decision-making, and the tenfold growth of the College in my time here – in numbers and in reputation – is evidence of the wisdom of that path. I have always told enquirers that St Philip’s is not a ‘half-price Grammar School’; we don’t sell ourselves as academically superior, though we achieve outstanding results. St Philip’s doesn’t exist to be better; we exist to be different; to model a world view with God in it. To live a life with Jesus at the centre of it.


4 Reasons Why School Open Days Are Great: At St Philip's Cessnock we understand that the choice of a school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. We want to assist you in any way that we can, and that is why we ensure that you get a thorough guided tour throughout our welcoming campus and get an authentic feel for our wonderful campus. We would love to extend the offer for you to attend an Open Day here at St Philip's Christian College Cessnock.

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St Philip’s is also visionary; I remember a meeting in 1992 with my then Principal, Graeme Irwin (now Executive Principal) when he said, “Personal computers are the future, and the future of education; we can either ride that wave, or miss it and get left behind”. Needless to say, he counted the cost, and made the investment, and we have been leaders in the 20th and 21st century education ever since. Cessnock’s Junior School building, and the new Sports Centre with its Fitness Centre, are unique in Australia and proof of the College’s willingness to invest in our children, and then trust them with that investment.

St Philip’s is compassionate. The heart of the school is to call young people to a higher standard, one that the staff aspire to model. One where we truly love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves. (You will need to read and unpack Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan if you want to know who your neighbour is!). We want to grow citizens, who will feed back into other’s lives even as they enjoy success in their own. These are some of the reasons I am still here, and still loving each day that God gives me with you.

Lindsay O'Reilly


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