Mr Claridge, the Principal of Eaglehawk Secondary College, has declared that he will be retiring at the end of this year (2017).
He arrived at ESC in 1993 just prior to Easter. On his first day the weather was hot, and he could not find the school. His relatives lived in Eaglehawk, but he had never been to the school before.
When Mr Claridge first arrived at the school he taught P.E, but he has since taught both Science and Health.
Mr Claridge has a number of sayings he’s known for. Students all around the school know his most favourite one. He says, “Kids, say yes. Get off your backsides and have a go at things, because usually it will work out.”
Mr Claridge has seen huge changes at ESC while he’s been here. He remembers the early days, “The school physically was a really different place with very few of the same buildings.” Over the years he has taught generations of the same families and seen so many changes.
“Bendigo was a much smaller town when I started,” he said. One thing he loves is that the culture at Eaglehawk hasn’t changed.
“We are the only community school in Bendigo that still runs off our community.” He loves the fact that past students come in to the school and say, “Wow, it’s really great.”
Mr Claridge talked about how watching change can be really scary and explained that the school went through a lot of challenges.
“There was a drought when the new buildings were being built, It was really hot and the temporary school happened to be on the football oval where there was very little air conditioning. This went on for three years.”
Mr Claridge thinks that moving into the new buildings has been a very positive change for the school. What he sees in each community is “great”.
He has so many wonderful memories at Eaglehawk and has had great opportunities too, including going on many camps with students. He’s been to Central Australia twice and Tasmania and the Gold Coast a couple of times, There have also been trips to Sydney and all sorts of places in Victoria, and every one of those has been hard work – even though they seem like a holiday.
Mr Claridge says, “When you go away with students on camp the relationships are different. You get to know kids differently than in the classroom and hopefully they get to know that you’re a person, not just a teacher.”
Mr Claridge says he never had the plan of becoming Principal of Eaglehawk Secondary College, and says he had to accept that if he did not put his hand up then someone else would have gotten to lead the school and taken it in a different direction.
He believed what the previous Principal (Karen Roberts) was doing was a good thing and it needed to be continued.
Mr Claridge says he happened to be in the right place at the right time. He had great teachers who had helped him, leaders who worked with him and taught him the ropes. When opportunities came up, which they always did, he thought, “yep, I’ll try that.”
There’s been failures along the way but lots of success too.
5 Mins with the Prins
with Noel Claridge
How long have you worked at ESC?
What is the best thing about your job?
What were your favourite subjects at school?
If you weren’t a Principal, what would you be doing?
What do you love most about the Eaglehawk community?
The friends I have made
“Get off your backsides and have a go at things, because usually it will work out.”
The thing Mr Claridge is going to miss most is the students and teachers who have become friends.
He has always tried to speak to everyone as he walks around the school and take a positive view on things. When he leaves, he says he will miss that day-to-day interaction with about 600 students and around 80 employees.
Mr Claridge has no deliberate plans for his retirement, because – as he has said to many people – he is not sure what he wants to do when he grows up!
He thinks that in some way he would like to continue to work with young people, or with teachers or even schools. Being Principal can be very stressful and time consuming, so he’s ready for a new challenge.
Whatever that next challenge may be, we’re glad he took on Eaglehawk Secondary College and helped lead it into its bright future.
The entire school community wishes him the very best.
John Pearce on Mr Claridge:
How long have you known Mr Claridge for?
We have known each other since Mr Claridge was at high school – going back 40 years. I can remember back to when he first arrived; he’d gone to England and came back and took up a position at Eaglehawk Secondary College. He spent his time being a P.E. teacher and a year level coordinator, before becoming Principal.
What is it like to work together?
It has been great working with him. He has become very involved with the Eaglehawk community, particularly through the Empowering Eaglehawk committee. What people don’t realise is that he has a family connection through Eaglehawk. His brother taught at this school and the Claridge’s as a family have a strong connection to Eaglehawk.
What are some of your favourite memories of Mr Claridge?
There are a multitude of them, ranging from going on the year 10 activities week, to activities nights that he arranged for the staff. Also talking football about the mighty Cats – “Go Cats!” is a common greeting between us. I also like his general enthusiasm.