Mr MATT KEAN ( Hornsby ) ( 18:11 ): Today I highlight a school that has been treasured by the Hornsby community for more than 30 years. For a generation, Berowra Christian Community School has been providing first-class education and happy childhood memories to all the students who have passed through its gates. In 1996, Berowra Baptist Church responded to the growing number of Christian parents in the local area who were seeking a primary school that supported the beliefs and values of a Christian education in a safe and nurturing environment. The school's founding principal, Stephen Spies, retired in 2013. He recalls the school's early origins, which were mapped out in his lounge room. That meeting in his lounge room saw a few like-minded parents gather to discuss plans to develop a new school to teach traditional Christian values and beliefs. The new school originally attracted some objections in the local Berowra community, but Mr Spies and his hardworking team would not be put off their goal to create the new school.
The school was born when 34 multi-denominational students were enrolled to be taught in the old hall and demountable classroom. Former member for Hornsby Neil Pickard, MP, marked the historic occasion on 23 March 1986 with an inspiring speech to the new students and assembled guests. The Berowra Christian Community School started to grow quickly and had 50 students enrolled by the end of the first year. Over the years the school has continued to grow and increase in size, with new enrolments and extra teaching places. The classrooms and facilities may have changed, but the school's beliefs and principles have remained the same, with a strong sense of community and local identity. This nurturing and caring environment, set in the quiet bushlands of Berowra, has been a popular choice for so many Berowra families. The school is also a founding member of the Australian Association of Christian Schools, which is an organisation established to provide advice and support to Christians on a national level.
Berowra Christian School is one of Hornsby's great success stories. In 2014 the school was recognised as one of the schools with the most significant academic gains from year 3 to year 5 within the local area, which is a clear indicator of the outstanding focus on academic excellence. Indeed, many parents at the school also comment to me about the incredible happiness and confidence that their children receive in the loving and nurturing environment.
I commend the school for the unique relationship that the staff have with the local community. Since my election in 2011, I have met with a number of families who have children enrolled at the school. Those parents tell me time and again about the wonderful education on offer at Berowra Christian Community School and the strong sense of community that each family feels.
The school is well served by a very proactive parents and friends committee that helps raise money for local charities and additional teaching resources. President Lys Carugan and committee members such as Tanya Rojas-Fort, Nicola Dawkins, Sonya Elliott, Samantha Hahn, Emma Olsson, Jo Melloh, Larissa Tompsett, Catherine Heeney and David and Catherine van Akker have been instrumental in organising major fundraising events behind the scenes such as the annual fete and the biennial pet show. Their enthusiasm and passion for education is shared by the teaching body at Berowra Christian Community School. Teachers such as Jodi Dagan, Karen Shapcott, Simon Mattinson and the fabulous Gali Smuts do a fantastic job preparing their young students for high school and allowing them to learn, grow and thrive in their academic studies. I make special mention of school administration and support staff members Sue Hendrie, Jannette-Grimmond, Anita MacKay, Annabel Dodd, Jodie Hazlewood and Elizabeth Passafaro. All those ladies go above and beyond to help the students in a variety of roles.
Leading the school and managing that fantastic teaching body is its beloved principal and my good friend Mr Steven Dodd. Steve is a rare gem. He is one of the best principals I have come across and is revered for his patience and caring nature by teaching staff, parents and children alike. When former principal Mr Stephen Spies retired after 27 years of service to the school the community knew there would be big shoes to fill. Steven Dodd has certainly managed to do that. He has continued the commitment of Berowra Christian Community School to provide a first-class education whilst working with Berowra Baptist Church Pastor Dean Moore and Associate Pastor Ted Bell to give students spiritual guidance by reinforcing the strong Christian values of love, acceptance, forgiveness, respect and integrity. The school's thirtieth anniversary is about recognising its many fine achievements over the years, celebrating its unique place in our community and looking ahead to the future. I congratulate Berowra Christian School on delivering 30 years of outstanding education and creating our leaders of tomorrow. They have made a difference to our community and will certainly make a great difference to our country.
To see the full hansard transcript, click here.