Principal always putting others first

DUBBO College Senior Campus 2007 school captain Sagar Sritharan and school captain of 2011 Charly Runciman are worlds apart but they share at least one opinion.

They firmly believe Senior Campus principal Richard Skinner always put students first and his departure from Dubbo will be a great loss to the College.

Mr Skinner is soon to leave Dubbo, taking on a new challenge as principal of Rose Bay Secondary College in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

He spent six years as head of the Senior Campus - his first position as a principal after starting his maths teaching career at Goodooga Central in 1983 and completing stints at Guyra Central and Duval High School at Armidale.

"Dubbo has been very hospitable," Mr Skinner said.

"We received a warm welcome when we came and there have been good educational and social opportunities in Dubbo.

"We have been very happy here and it will be a challenge moving the family to Sydney."

Mr Skinner's family consists of wife Samantha, a teacher at Senior Campus, and children Jessica, 15 and Joe, 11.

Of his achievements at Senior Campus during the past six years, he singled out the school's excellent academic record.

"Four out of those six years we attained the highest ATAR in Dubbo," Mr Skinner said.

"We have also been able to steadily boost our retention of Indigenous students - in 2007 26 Aboriginal students sat their HSC but this year we've had 43 graduate, and of those at least 19 have applied to continue their education at university.

"At the same time we have constructed outstanding trade facilities for hospitality and metals and engineering, catering for the range of students better suited to more practical occupations."

When asked about his relationship with the students at Senior Campus, Mr Skinner spoke warmly about six years working with the very best.

"Our students have a sense of ownership and are very protective of our school," he said.

"There is a tolerance in this setting that is often elusive in the wider community.

"The students are very accepting and respectful to the teachers and to their fellow students.

"They look after the facilities at the school and are proud to be a part of a close educational community."

This school spirit was exemplified by the warm words spoken about the college and its principal by former school captains Sagar Sritharan and Charly Runciman.

"The college was still a fairly young school when I was captain at Senior Campus and I would say Mr Skinner was instrumental in helping us forge an identity," Mr Sritharan said.

"He was supportive of student initiatives and it was during this period that we began student-led assemblies.

"He was always visible around the school, always encouraging ideas and he's a man with a great sense of humour.

"I am really sorry that he's leaving but I wish him all the very best for the future."

Charly Runciman, currently in training with the St George Illawarra NRL squad, said he had great respect for Mr Skinner.

"He just seemed to have a really good understanding of our age group and actively encouraged us to take the initiative," Mr Runciman said.

"With Mr Skinner students always came first and he could see things from our perspective.

"He was a great principal for the Senior Campus and he will be a great loss to Dubbo College.

"I wish him well for the future."

In his six-year tenure at Senior Campus there had been many highlights for Mr Skinner, not the least of which was the annual Astley and Mulvey Cup competitions.

"We won the Astley Cup three years in succession and at one stage we held both the Astley Cup and the Mulvey Cup," he said.

"Although we lost last year, I am sure the current students will battle hard in 2013 to bring both cups home to Dubbo."

Other highlights included the receipt of Minister's awards by two students - Graeme Andrews and Ben Costa - and a Director-General's award for the college careers program and his friend and colleague, the late Charlie Newman.

"I still miss Charlie every day," Mr Skinner said.

"He welcomed me warmly to Dubbo College and was always generous in passing on his knowledge.

"He was a passionate teacher and a life-long friend."

Mr Skinner saw a bright future for Dubbo College and believed it was well set up for the future.

"I think the college is ready for the challenges ahead and I think the implementation of recommendations from the Gonski review will equip it even better for the future," he said.

"There will always be droughts and difficult economic times to cope with in country New South Wales but I think Dubbo College, with its first-rate facilities and structures, will be in a good position to face these challenges."

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