In July 2012, the St Philip’s Christian College community was rocked by the news that their much loved founder and College Principal, Mr Chris Walkling, had suddenly passed away at the age of 48.
There was an outpouring of grief across the Tomaree peninsula as Chris was known, loved and admired by so many.
Through necessity, the search began for a new principal and late in 2012, the Board of Directors announced that someone had been found.
Dr Timothy Petterson, a Housemaster from The King’s School in Sydney, was asked to lead the College community with his appointment taking effect at the commencement of the 2013 school year.
“Having never met Chris, it is pretty clear from my interactions with others that he was much loved,’’ Dr Petterson told Bay News Of the Area.
“I feel enormously privileged to have been entrusted with the leadership of the College and am grateful to Chris for the strong foundation which has been laid,” he added.
Over the past four years, the College has continued to grow both in enrolments and land holdings, and has attracted some outstanding teaching and non-teaching staff.
“As we grow, our challenge is not to lose sight of our founder’s heart and the mission, vision and core values of our school.” Christ first, serving one another, striving for excellence, doing what is right and building community are the values which are espoused by the College.
“The mission and core values are what attracted me to the College,” Dr Petterson said.
Rachael Gillespie’s son, Matthew Gordon, has been attending St Philip’s since Kindergarten and is currently in Year 5.
During 2013, Matthew had a massive asthma attack and was taken to Westmead Children’s Hospital very close to death.
“Dr Petterson, Mrs Barbara Hayes and Karen Coleman rang me every day to make sure that Matthew and I were okay,” Rachel Gillespie told Bay News Of The Area.
Matthew returned to school two weeks later, needing close monitoring and medication throughout the school day.
“The staff were so wonderful and I am so grateful for them,” Ms Gillespie said.
“Dr Petterson would often set time apart to talk to Matthew to encourage him and to make sure that he was okay,” Rachael Gillespie added.
It is this kind of love and support between the parents, students and staff, that St Philip’s College has become well known.
Next week we will look at the future plans for the College with the imminent opening of Narnia, a 58 place early learning centre earmarked for opening in January 2017.
By Jewell DRURY