A SPECIAL COMMUNITY
Mullumbimby is a meeting place that has long welcomed all kinds of people from all kinds of places. Our School community is diverse but connected, creative, passionate, joyful.
We provide regular opportunities for community involvement in school activities, and actively encourage the regular participation of parents, students, teachers and alumni in the social and cultural life of the School, through festivals and celebrations, concerts and plays, school projects and excursions, as well as planning and study groups.
Strong and enduring relationships between staff and students and between the students themselves are a hallmark of a Shearwater education. Our graduates frequently return to visit, to work, to share their successes and to enrol their children! The School lives deeply in them, as they do in us.
Vicki has been a Board member since 2020 and has forged a lasting connection and unique insight to Shearwater, having been an employee, a parent, an HR consultant, a High School dance teacher and a WAVE choreographer. Vicki has two sons in the High School. She offers the Board 20 years experience in Human Resources and an understanding of the School’s organisational culture and operational needs, combined with strategic visioning and community values.
Olga has been on the Shearwater Board for four years and was previously in the role of Board Chair. With anthroposophist parents, Olga has anthroposophy in her DNA. Her two teenage daughters have attended Steiner schools since Kindergarten – one graduated from Shearwater two years ago and the other is due to graduate this year. Olga has spent the last 19 years in various capacities on her daughters’ Steiner school Boards, including in Darwin, Samford Valley and now Shearwater. Olga believes a Steiner education is now more important than ever.
David was elected to the board late in 2022. He has seven children (four currently at Shearwater) and loves spending time with family. David enjoys watching the enriching of his children’s lives and friendships at Shearwater. With extensive experience in business, finance and leadership for over 40 years, David currently works in his family property development business and tries to maintain a strong work life balance. He describes himself as open and honest and tries to be fair in everything he does. David’s hobbies include astronomy, surfing, cooking and renovating.
Kerryn has been a Board member for over three years and, somewhat surprisingly, finds herself in the role of secretary. Formerly a school teacher with a passion for meaningful, lifelong learning, Kerryn is now a professional coach and leads an online professional development community for coaches across the world. Kerryn has one daughter in Class 4 and another in Kindergarten. She loves the heartfelt warmth of Shearwater and is grateful for the opportunity to give her children the spiritual depth and richness of a Steiner education.
Josh has been a Board member for more than three years and, as the son of Shearwater founders, he has Shearwater in his bones. He was a eurythmy teacher and High School Guardian from 1998-2007, and is the current WAVE Director. Josh is an integral part of the Shearwater community and uses this understanding to inform decisions within the Board. When he is not serving on the Board, Josh is out saving lives as the chief of Mullumbimby Fire Rescue. Josh has two children in the High School.
Alana relocated from WA in 2020 with her daughter, who is now in Class 6 at Shearwater. Alana was elected to the Shearwater board at the 2022 AGM and previously held the position of Treasurer on the Perth Waldorf School Board. Alana has over two decades of experience in finance and business management across a range of industries and combines her corporate skills with a heart-centred nature, country values and interest in natural health and spiritual development. Alana continues her studies in anthroposophy and appreciates the holistic, nurturing and inclusive nature of Steiner education.
The following FAQs are part of an ongoing conversation between the School Board and the School community, opening communication, transparency and understanding.
Why should I become a member of the School company?
Shearwater is an established not-for-profit company, and as part of the School community you may apply to become a member of the School Company.
Becoming a member of the School Company is different from being a member of the School community. Company membership provides a platform to voice concerns, show support and especially to vote on issues that help guide the vision and direction of the School. It is the Company members that appoint the Board at the School’s annual general meeting. The Board in turn appoints the Head of School and the Business Manager.
We recommend that all staff members, parents and care-givers become members of the Shearwater Company. Your choice to become a company member, not only demonstrates your active support of the School, but also empowers you to influence its future direction. Company membership ensures that you get a vote and that your vote counts.
If you are not already a member of the School Company, we encourage you to complete and return a company membership application at your earliest opportunity. This will enable you to have your say in creating the future for our children at Shearwater.
Please note that applications for membership are usually processed at the next Board meeting, time permitting, and if not then, by the second Board meeting after point of application. While it may take up to three months for your application to be processed, under normal circumstances it will be much faster. You will be notified by email upon acceptance of your application.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Company of Shearwater, the Mullumbimby Steiner School.
What does it take to become a Board member?
To be a Board member, an active interest in the wellbeing and future of our School and the School community is vital. Board members typically devote an average of 1-2 hours per week to their volunteer role, so some spare time is also key.
Professional expertise or experience that will benefit the Board is also important. Director roles are to be held by volunteers, not currently in employment at the School, with various professional backgrounds and expertise. This includes Waldorf/Steiner education, school management, law, planning, financial and business management, human resources and industrial relations management, building and project management or fundraising and marketing.
You can see the current Board members above. Currently, we hope to find one or more Board members with expertise in the areas of law, building and project management or fundraising and marketing. If you are interested in becoming part of the School Board and can support us in one of these areas, please get in touch.
How do I get changes made?
The Board frequently gets asked questions about how to get particular changes made within the School. For example, we were recently asked about establishing a bike/walking trail connecting Shearwater to Mullumbimby.
As the Board is responsible for the governance of the School, we refer operational questions like this to our Head of School or another relevant person from the school community.
The best way to get a change made within the School is to become involved. The Board has representatives on several School committees that you can become involved in, including the Parents and Friends or the Planning and Development committee. Please contact the Office of the Head of School at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how to get involved.
What happens at a Board meeting?
Every six weeks or so, the Board meets with the Head of School and the School Business Manager. In this meeting, the Head of School and Business Manager give the Board an update on what is going on within the School. Policies, major decisions and challenges are discussed, and typically, the Board members ask questions and, where relevant, share any recommendations.
Sometimes the Head of School or Business Manager require the board to vote on a decision. In 2021, we are working toward there being a regular College of Teachers representative attending these meetings.
From time to time, the Board also meets on their own to discuss governance matters.
What does the School Board do?
Ideally, if all is going well, the Board doesn’t need to actually DO all that much within the School. Instead, the Head of School and the Business Manager are responsible for orchestrating the doing within the School and it is the Board’s responsibility to oversee that.
The Board’s main role is to employ the Head of School and the Business Manager, and then monitor the performance of both. This governance role ensures that what is happening within the School is in alignment with the School’s mission, strategic plan, values and objectives, and also that it is financially viable, and educationally and legally compliant in accordance with the various regulations incumbent upon all registered schools and not-for-profit organisations.
To fulfil this role, the Board meets with the Head of School and Business Manager regularly throughout the school year. The Board also has representatives on various school committees, including the Finance Committee and the Planning and Development Committee. In a practical sense, the Board also does a fair amount of reading, reviewing of financials and asking of questions, as all new and amended School policies, as well as all major decisions within the School, whether strategic or financial, need to be approved by the Board.
Why do we have a School Board?
Generally speaking, a school board is responsible for the governance of the School. Basically, this means the Board oversees the performance of the School including its management and financial performance. A school board is also responsible for maintaining the School’s mission, values and objectives.
The Shearwater School Board guides the School management to ensure decisions made are aligned with the School’s mission, values and objectives, whilst ensuring financial viability, educational and legal compliance. Last but not least, as Shearwater is an incorporated not-for-profit organisation, it must by law have a constitution (aka rules) and the Shearwater Constitution requires our School to have a Board.
At the heart of this School lies the College, which is responsible for the educational philosophy and direction of the School. The College is open to all Shearwater staff and meets weekly. Teachers are invited to share the work of their class, the content of their lessons, and discuss the progress of their pupils.
The Student Representative Council, with its two elected representatives from each Class (8 to 11), gives students an avenue to express their thoughts, needs and concerns to the College of Teachers and the School Board, as well developing student-led initiatives across the School.
Star Canoe is a group of school staff, Board members and parents of First Nations students. We meet regularly, working together to assist the School Executive and the College to provide opportunities for First Nations students to access, and flourish within, our holistic education setting at Shearwater.
We aim to embed practices into the School fabric that will develop respectful and meaningful relationships with First Nations Peoples in our community and beyond.
This year, we are working on Shearwater’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). We warmly welcome participation and insights from the families of First Nations students and the broader community. If you would like to join our group, come to a meeting, contribute in any way or find out more, please email us at email@example.com.