Graeme Irwin is the executive principal of St. Phillips Christian College campuses around our region. This year, on Australia Day, Graeme had the honour of being awarded the ‘Order of Australia’, for his services to both education and to Christian education.
Graeme was pleasantly surprised by this honour. Some of his staff had secretly put in the application, that they had worked on over the past couple of years. Graeme will accept the medal in person, later this year at a special ceremony in Canberra (If restrictions allow).
Graeme received an offical letter in the mail from Governor General, David Hurley about the success of his application. Hurley has previously visited St. Phillips with his wife. Noting that it was Mrs Hurley’s love for music and children choirs & musicals, that drew them to the school.
Graeme’s educational journey began in his early twenties, when he felt a calling from God to pursue a teaching career. As his love for teaching grew, the idea of combining teaching and he’s relationship with Jesus to form Christian teaching, soon resulted! With the rise of Christian schools forming in the late 70s and early 80s, Graeme was fortunate to be around at that time and ready to go.
As St. Phillips was beginning to form, there were also other Christina schools forming around the region. Some including Hunter Christian School, Maitland Christian school and Belmont Christian College. This was happening across the country and also around the world.
Graeme describes this as “a real movement of the Spirit”. All of this happening before the internet, so no one knew what each other was doing really… We give credit to the Holy Spirit who created that movement of Christian schools”.
When speaking about the potential for conflict between having a school that strives for academic success, while still keeping God at its core. Graeme believes they go together, quoting famous runner Eric Liddell “I feel God’s pleasure when I run”.
Graeme goes on to say that “we’re gifted in certain ways, we have callings on our life, and when we get to use those gifts and pursue that calling, it is a way of worship and serving God. And we need to do with all our heart”.
St. Phillips has done groundbreaking things including; introducing the middle school system, Dale – an alternative learning environment and the Young Mothers programme and many other things as well.
Their latest innovative programme being the ‘Teaching College’. Where teachers get hands on experience as they’re being trained and have lectures with Alphacrucis College. It began in 2018 and now has over 40 students.
“So the idea was, where am I going to get all the Christian school teachers that I need? If I can’t find them, then I have to make them. So we’ve gone out and we’ve found young people that passionately love Jesus and love teaching and want to combine those two things as a ministry”.
“It’s probably the only one of its kind in Australia, except there are other ones that are being birthed because of our programme. There’s one in Sydney, there’s one in Tasmania, and there are others that are envisaged. And it could be a revolution as far as teacher training goes”.
Congratulations Graeme and thank you for all the amazing work you have done through St. Phillips. May God bless you richly!