IF you were to trace the origins of Queensland’s Sheldon College, you’d be led to a chook pen in the central west town of Tambo.
It was inside this chook pen that the school’s principal and founder set up her first school house, educating her grandfather’s poultry as a five-year-old.
In the years that have followed, Dr Lyn Bishop has forged an incredible career which has afforded her many rewards and much recognition, most recently a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Alumni Award from the Faculty of Education.
Over 40 years, Bishop rose steadily through the ranks, from a teacher through to a senior mistress, deputy, and principal. The educator then took on a role as deputy executive director of the mid-east region, responsible for over 250 schools, and later moved into the central office in the area of quality assurance.
It was at this point in her career that Bishop decided something had to change. “Every single promotion took me further and further away from children, and children are the reason that I came into education in the first instance,” Bishop tells Australian Teacher Magazine.
“So, I made a decision at that stage to give it all away and to go back to something that I love doing, and that was working first-hand with children. So I decided to leave and set up my own school …”
It was from this ambition that Sheldon College was born — but not without a fight. The hurdles began with gaining council approval, but included opposition from local schools, and Bishop putting up $100,000 of her own money and offering her house and relatives’ houses as collateral for a bank loan.
Despite all of the personal cost and red tape, when asked about the single biggest highlight of her career, Bishop needs only to look around her for the answer.
“I guess to see this place arise out of the dust … to start with one building and see it grow and emerge to what it is today, an outstanding educational facility with wonderful wonderful teachers, and beautiful children with whom to work.”
Bishop admits to some shock at being chosen for the QUT award.
“I felt quite humbled, you know, to be given an award for something that I have the privilege of doing every day that I absolutely love, and that’s working first-hand with children in educational settings …”