Sydney Catholic Schools’ principal Damien Carlton has been honoured with an Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) NSW Leadership Award 2020.

ACEL NSW honours educational leaders who have made a significant contribution to education, educational leadership and the improvement of child or student learning outcomes, teacher professional practice and/or effectiveness.

The prestigious award is only given to a limited number of people and Mr Carlton was blessed to be among them after more than 40 years of educational work within Catholic schools.

The current principal of St John Bosco College Engadine said it was very humbling.

“It has come as a surprise as I was not aware that I was a nominee,” Mr Carlton said.

Mr Carlton’s teaching career began in 1980 at St John’s College Lakemba, now known as Holy Spirit College Lakemba. The then 20-year-old came to St John’s fresh from the Catholic Teachers’ College.

He began his first principalship in 2004 at the Christian Brothers’ College, Burwood.

“I spent six years there before the school transitioned into Sydney Catholic Vocational College, Burwood,” Mr Carlton said. “Since then, I have spent the last 11 years as principal of St John Bosco College, Engadine.”

Teaching came naturally for Mr Carlton and he fell in love with the profession.

“I love working with young people and making a difference in their lives,” Mr Carlton reflected.

“It has never been work for me – it’s a privilege to be trusted with the lives of the young and to be in a position to mould hearts and minds, and in doing so, creating good Christians and honest citizens of this country.

“The thing that I am most proudest of is that I have never lost the energy and enthusiasm to teach, guide and work with young people in a Christian/Catholic environment and to be continually inspired by the commitment of teachers, young and old, with whom I have had the great pleasure to influence and lead.”

A special message from St John Bosco’s Religious Education Coordinator, Moira Loader

Damien Carlton shares his tips on what makes an exceptional leader

  1. Make a positive difference in the community 
  2. Credibility 
  3. Authenticity
  4. Make haste slowly (festina lente)
  5. Be prepared to make the tough decisions, equally, be prepared to admit your mistakes
  6. Be ethical and calm
  7. Care and empathy 
  8. Be proactive in recognising and selecting talent
  9. Have a sense of humour!

What his teachers say

St John Bosco Year 7 coordinator and English teacher, Maria Millward, described his commitment to his students as among his most admirable qualities.

“He dedicates many hours of his own time to researching and understanding the concerns of students with unique needs in order to support them,” Mrs Millward said.

She said he goes over and above where his teachers and staff are concerned.

“He remembers each staff members’ birthday, and acknowledges the efforts of teachers and students with regularity and genuine gratitude,” Mrs Millward said.


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