The right person for the job

Former Lara Lake Primary School principal Noel Creece has been appointed to lead Victoria’s first vertical government primary school in Southbank.

Mr Creece has been charged with the responsibility of driving the new $44 million South Melbourne Primary School on Ferrars St and, based on his wealth of experience, it seems the government has selected wisely.

Mr Creece has worked in a number of teaching and administrative roles in both metropolitan and country schools in Victoria and has even worked at a school in the United Arab Emirates.

In his most recent role at Lara Lake Primary School, where he worked as principal for seven years, he played a pivotal part in growing the school from 375 students to almost 700.

He said that he was humbled to be appointed to lead the new school, but admitted that he was in for a challenge given that the facility was still being constructed.   

“There’s going to be some logistical challenges as it’s a piece of dirt at the moment so I need to know what is going to be involved in the build,” he said.

“My passion is around the humans inside the building but I have to take a huge interest in the building itself and the surrounds because that’s going to feed the kids into it.”

“They’re all unknowns and, having so many unknowns, it is difficult to plan for because I don’t want to plan for the wrong outcome.”

However, having travelled to other vertical schools around the world and helped start and grow schools in the past, Noel said he wasn’t daunted by the challenge ahead.

When open for the beginning of the 2018 school year, South Melbourne Primary School will be home to 550 students from surrounding Port Phillip suburbs and Southbank.

While he is yet to meet any students or families, he said his approach to education had always been to create an environment that fostered passion, empathy and understanding between students, teachers and parents.

“Every kid that comes through the door is going to be precious for us and, in essence, you’ve got a life in your hands and you’ve got to treat it with so much respect and empathy,” he said.

“My experience is that every kid needs a break and that every kid needs an understanding and every kid needs an adult that believes in them.”

Being located in the growth area of Montague in Fishermans Bend, he said he would only use his title to play an advocacy role for community planning if it was in the best interest of the students.

Mr Creece said that the nature of a vertical school meant it was conducive to a mixed learning experience where students could be taught by a number of teachers and tap into the local community.

“You’ve got the Arts Precinct. You’ve got local businesses that have got enormous opportunities to contribute to the kids at the school and opening up our doors once we get established is really what I want to do,” he said.

“I’m really confident in myself that we can bring a great model for the community but I’m also not arrogant enough to say that I’ve got all of the answers. I need to listen to people and then respond accordingly.”

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