Much-loved Bundaberg State High School principal Karen McCord will soon be leaving her local role to take on a new education position in Dubai.
The popular educator said she was recently approached for the Executive Principal position at an all-new Australian International School in Dubai and will depart the country in less than a week.
“The news came so suddenly for our school community, as it did to me and my family,” Karen said.
“It is amazing how opportunities present themselves and one thing I talk with students and staff about constantly is that when these opportunities come along, particularly those out of the blue, if you think it may be a positive for you then you owe it to yourself to take on the challenge.”
From the time she arrives in Dubai, Karen said she would have 16 weeks to staff, physically resource and market the new school to the expat population.
“There are 300 Australian businesses in Dubai along with a high commissioner and ambassador in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, so a big focus in the first year will be to ensure Australians heading over post COVID have the opportunity to enrol their children in an Australian curriculum school,” she said.
“Contracts for Dubai commence for two years initially, but given the timing of COVID and school start times, I expect to be there for at least two and a half years before deciding whether or not I stay longer.”
Karen said she had many goals to tick off as part of her Dubai placement.
“Naturally, I want to be part of creating a great school that becomes the school of choice in Dubai for those wishing to ensure their children have an education focused on delivery of 21st century skills,” she said.
“I will be working to ensure our curriculum pays homage not just to Australia but to Arab and the various cultures of the students who will be part of the school.
“Also, many students from countries such as China and India may be non English speaking, so it is imperative to provide them with opportunities to thrive as they develop their English skills.”
Karen said she would also be implementing ways to keep her connection with her Bundaberg school community close.
“I am really keen to ensure that our students in Dubai connect with our Bundaberg students,” she said.
“I also hope to bring our Dubai primary students to Bundaberg as part of their engagement in the Australian curriculum.”
School community showers Karen with support
Karen said the support she had received from Bundaberg residents and students since she made her announcement had been truly humbling.
“I have been overwhelmed by the student, staff, parent and community support for this opportunity,” she said.
“So many are genuinely excited for me and have mentioned they are proud that someone from Bundaberg was given this task.
“It has been lovely that our students also understand that this is something unique and their feedback and gratitude for my time here at Bundaberg SHS and in Bundaberg has meant a great deal.”
Bundaberg a special place for principal
Karen arrived in Bundaberg in 2014 and hit the ground running as principal of Bundaberg State High School.
She said she fell in love with the region from the get go.
“I love this school, Bundaberg and our community,” she said.
“My parents even moved here along with my in-laws because it is such a great place, and if this offer hadn’t come along I would have been quite happy to retire as I had planned – with Bundaberg SHS as my last school.
“As it is, I will be returning at least once a year and our intention was and still is to retire here in Bundaberg.”
In her time as principal, Karen said there were many highlights and achievements of staff, students and the school as a whole that she was extremely proud to have been part of.
From the introduction of alternative education programs such as Ignite and Face and Link and Launch, to the many fantastic sporting team achievements, senior student results in QCE and ATAR, music accomplishments and more, Karen said there had been so many positive moments throughout her 14 years.
“There are so many highlights!
“For me, perhaps the greatest is my pride in staff, students and families because they are proud of this school and genuinely care for each other,” she said.
“That doesn’t just happen and as I have talked with students across the last week, I have made a point of letting them know that I genuinely believe that I will never again get to work with students as amazing as I have had the privilege of working with here.”
While she will soon be leaving the comforts of a regional town for the hustle and bustle of a big city, Karen said she would always call Bundaberg “home”.
“Naturally I will miss our great region, lack of traffic, convenience of getting to key places around the CBD, most importantly though, our sense of community,” Karen said.
“We have a collaborative focus on caring for others – focus on youth and recognition that they are our future and the fact that our business community and Council understand that is unique.
“The spirit I have found in Bundaberg is second to none.”