High school principal heading back to classroom

VARIED CAREER: Maclean High School principal Bob Perl is retiring, but is keen to do casual teaching.
VARIED CAREER: Maclean High School principal Bob Perl is retiring, but is keen to do casual teaching. Adam Hourigan Photography

AFTER 37 years teaching in schools, retiring Maclean High School principal Bob Perl is looking forward to doing one thing with his spare time.

He's heading back to the classroom.

"Some people say I'm mad, but I'm looking forward to doing a bit of casual teaching," he said.

Mr Perl is on leave, and will officially retire in January.

He started teaching in 1980 after trying several different occupations.

He began teaching refugees in an intensive language unit at Fairfield High School.

His first full-time posting was to in Bourke in 1982, staying as a PE teacher for three years, where he met his wife Kim.

He moved back to Sydney in 1985 and taught in high schools throughout the city.

After the birth of two of his children, Mr Perl and his wife decided that the city was not the place they wanted to raise them, and started applying for head teacher jobs in country areas.

"PE was changing, it became one of the key learning areas in schools, and became their own faculties with head teachers," he said.

He took on the new role of head teacher PE at South Grafton High School in 1992.

"I was 34 when I moved here, the third youngest staff member and the first person in the school who achieved the position on interview," he said.

"Prior to that it was all on priority and transfer.

"People always used to say to me 'Oh here comes the wonderboy'," he laughed.

After 12 years in the role, Mr Perl became deputy principal in 2003.

"After a while, I'd thought about chasing a principal's position, but after some ill-health I had six months off and I thought I'd just stay as deputy," he said.

However, when an expression of interest for the principal's position came up, he thought "a change is as good as a holiday," and in 2014 became the relieving principal at Maclean High School.

He was officially appointed in December 2015.

Mr Perl said looking back over the years of teaching, he said it was important to realise that not all students were the same.

"It's a confidence thing, and I think sometimes we put the barometer out there and we expect all kids to reach it, and to be the same and they're not," he said.

"Everyone learns differently... and I think we've got to be aware of that.

"We don't judge people. We are successful at schools if kids finish and you've got a choice of what you want to do.

"I don't care if it's digging a road, being a doctor or a vet, if that's what you choose to do, go for it."

Mr Perl was keen to get back into the classroom, and was already in talks to do casual teaching.

"I quite enjoy it, and what I've missed over the past 13 years as a deputy principal is working with the kids.

"As principal you're away from the kids, you're more with teachers and parents and I really miss taking a group of kids and going teaching.

"Apart from that, maybe some golf and some fishing."

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