Sunday 29th May 2022

September Stories. #1. 2018.89.

September Stories. #1. 2018.89.

I’ve enjoyed writing Thursday posts on a theme. There has been the  Just For July series and the Appreciation in August one just finished. I did give a lot of consideration to what September might be, and with the chance to tell stories in a more detailed form, here is the first! September Stories. I hope YOU enjoy too. Denyse.

Sixteen Years Ago.

But first:

I really enjoyed being a K-6 School Principal. I had waited till my late 40s to decide to ‘take the plunge’ and actively seek a principal’s role in a K-6 school in Sydney’s west.

Having been a relieving Principal in a school where I had been a Deputy Principal I knew that I did not want to apply for that role as I had been at that school for almost 10 years.

This was a much longer period than I usually stayed in one school and family reasons were part of this but I knew that to lead that school was fraught with trying to placate factions and being in conflict ethically with the old-fashioned and out-moded forms of discipline.

In the lead up to the end of the 1990s I was asked to relieve as a Principal is a larger school within the Western Sydney environment I knew well. This school already had a leadership team including Deputy Principals but it was the wish of the out-going (Long Service Leave first!) Principal that someone from out of the school be appointed. That was me.

What a baptism of fire this was!

Whilst I knew the general area, I was not knowledgable at all about the make-up of the student population – which was well into the 600s. I was to lead that school for Terms 3 and 4 when a principal would be appointed. There were special needs classes, there were children of high needs (intellectual and behavioural) in mainstream classes. Fortunately, it came with a non-teaching Deputy, who helped bring me up to speed with every new challenge including:

  • chasing a boy who was ready to jump the low fence and run onto the road. He stopped. In the playground.
  • finding another boy climbing to the roof of a building to escape the problem he had being in class.
  • having a mother of a girl scream at me over the desk “what are YOU going to DO ABOUT this, YOU”RE the PRINCIPAL”

“I really do not want to be a Principal” I said after a very hectic Term 3 leading into Term 4…but then again..

” the old death bed regret” popped into my mind.

Did I want to think I should have given the principalship a go but I did not?”

Answer: NO.

Further Reasons!

As the last Term progressed, unless I did decide to start applying for Principal’s roles, I had this ultimatum delivered.

As a Deputy Principal who had needed to leave her original school (the 10 year one) because the school student population  was slowing and there was no longer a DP position, I had to accept any position as a DP and guess where I was appointed: to the school where I was currently Relieving Principal. 

Oh. No, I thought that was untenable and also once I knew who the new boss would be in the following year my hand was forced – in a way. So it was out with the application templates and late nights writing and honing these to match K-6 School Principals roles that I might fit.

It All Takes Time.

Back then, applications for Principal  were sent into the District Office for the Superintendent to look over with his/her panel of selectors. These were a parent from the school which was seeking a new principal, a staff member from that school, a principal of similar status as the role on offer and the Superintendent. If the application met with the panel’s approval, professional referees (nominated on the application) were called, and then if the panel thought they wanted to know more then the applicant was invited to a formal interview.

I went through this process over some weeks for a total of four times and got to interview but not the role. I was also still leading a school! I did get positive and helpful feedback particularly by one District Superintendent By the second last week of Term 4 I thought I was not going to get a Principal’s job but that was not true and within 2 days of school ending for Term 4, I was offered and I accepted the role of K-6 Principal in my own right.

Appointed As Principal.

The District Superintendent rang me to offer the position and of course I accepted it. Being so close to the end of the year, I could not visit the school until close to the end of the January holidays.

The words that rang in my ear, and were written to me by the District Superintendent echoed…and not nearly as much as in future years.

“Denyse, you have to bring this school into the next century and I know you are the one to do it. It won’t be easy and it will have challenges but you are the right fit for this”.

To Be Continued.

Next week, I will outline the story, in more detail about the meaning of Sixteen Years Ago.


Linking up with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life on Thursdays.





  1. To be continued!!! You can’t do that to me …
    See you next week when I find out “16 years ago”

    PS Sorry I’ve been absent of a Monday. Been struggling a bit. Always behind. Always in catchup mode these days. Not my usual MO. Trying to get back into the swing of things …

    • See, the thing is by time I wrote this it was already lengthy and the next part does need its own post.

      I am really sorry to read how you are struggling. Perhaps thinking about what you REALLY love doing might consider that..I know about burnout.

      I am excited to be meeting up with you soon. What fun.


  2. You can’t leave us on a to be continued…lol. Loving these monthly themes of yours.

    • Here’s the thing, I ummed and ahhed about it while I decided what would go with September and then, derrrr, stories!

      Yes, it was a bit cruel to do that ending but it needs its own post.

      I am sure as an author, you will understand!

      Denyse x

  3. Even though I’m not a teacher I can relate to your stories. Many of my family and friends are teachers, and one of my brothers is a principal. Often their first few years in particular have been very testing. I admire teachers so much. While there are a few who clearly don’t care – or more likely are burnt out and jaded – they are very rare. It seems to be a labour of love and a passion. I’ve seen how good teachers (and support staff) really do make a difference in a child’s life (and therefore, the home life of the family too). It’s concerning to see how many demands are being placed on teachers these days and how stressful the job is becoming. People often say ‘let kids be kids.’ Sometimes I think ‘let teachers teach.’

    • Oh Bronnie, thank you so much for your understanding and kind words about teachers and teaching.

      Yes, there are some who should leave or retire but the majority are passionate and see it as a calling as I do.

      The demands these days are 100% more than when I was a principal as there was no social media…Just the local gossip chain on the phones !!

      Denyse x

  4. You’ve left us with a cliffhanger Denyse! You’re good! lol Oh the challenges of being a Principal – not sure that I could do it! #TeamLovinLife

    • Oh Min, I kind of did not intend to do this but as I needed to give the background I thought it would help understand some of the lead-up to “16 years ago”. Promise it will be there next week.

      Denyse x

  5. Always interesting to read the motivation behind big decisions Denyse – and this one certainly sounds like it presented a lot of challenges – I look forward to your next instalment!

    • Thanks so much Leanne, yes I can recall much of that time with absolute clarity and will outline the reasons for the “16 years ago” in next week’s post.

      Denyse x

  6. Denyse, I’m always fascinated by your accounts of your working life. Can’t wait to read the next instalment, Like Leanne, interesting to read about what you were thinking at the time of making these big career decisions.

    SSG xxx

    • Thank you for your kind words.

      I guess the reason we blog IS to tell our stories.

      I know that this one has been told on the blog a long time ago (maybe 2012) and I did a lot of ‘deletion’ of posts and pictures from 2016 onwards due to privacy. However, in saying that, it is not true for me to hide. Each September IS a memory of what happened 16 years ago so when I began writing post #1 I realised it would not be doing it justice to cram it all in. So, will be writing more of the story over the next 3 weeks.

      Denyse x

  7. I’m enjoying the themes as well and love hearing about your past and the life you’ve lived before. That stuff is so often lost to us and makes me appreciate the internet more!

    • Thank you. interestingly today I spent time on & off the blog composing the next story. It was therapeutic in one way and also got to me a bit in another. The thing is, September will always remind me of the fact that I left my job as a principal because I became burned out by overwork. It was “not my fault” but the system contributed to it majorly and all I see now, 16 years on is that nothing has changed much in Dept of Education. In fact it is worse. I have no answer that would be acceptable because I am less sure Australia is ready to accept that mental health breakdowns are increasing. The interesting thing as well today is I realised this 2nd post will be live on R U OK day.
      I hope you have an amazing trip! Looking forward to your pics when you get wifi. Denyse x

  8. Oooohhh a cheeky to be continued… !!! I love hearing more about your life and what it was like for you working in the school system. Until next time 😉

    • I know, I had to stop!! This week is more…and then there will be another post the following week. I need to outline the details and I cannot do it in point form so it is a STORY! A true one too.

      Denyse x

  9. As a teacher I can really relate! Looking forward to the next chapter!

  10. I so enjoyed reading this Denyse. Your memory of this time in your working life is very clear. I can only imagine the challenges and enormous workload. But it would also be very rewarding.

    I particularly resonate with where you mentioned about the mother who yelled at you from across your desk. When I was teaching I had mostly lovely parents but some were a complete nightmare. I also was not prepared at all for the significant behavioural issues of some children. I felt this was really skimmed over during University and became a huge part of the day to day management of the classroom. Even though I only taught full time for 2 years and then left the profession I look back on those 2 years with fondness and a love of Teaching and appreciation for Teachers, Deputies, Principals and all Teaching support staff. I remember crying in the staff room one day in my first year and a veteran Teacher said to me “Teaching is a lifestyle not a job” That really stuck with me as it is an all consuming career that demands a lot from us. But what a beautiful career it is

    • Thanks Karen for your comment. I am in agreement that to be a teacher is to do it for ‘life’ but more and more is expected of schools thanks to governments setting the agenda that is is even more challenging to find work life balance.

      Denyse x