Craig Fielke was installed as Executive Director of Lutheran Education SA, NT & WA (LESNW) earlier this year. He shares some of his background, and reflects on the future direction of LESNW.
If you look up the latest census figures, you will find that Taldra, the little settlement in which I grew up, continues to have barely over fifty people living there. Along with my immediate family, I was very fortunate to have many uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family interconnected in this marginal farming area, where a tonne of grain per hectare of crop (4 bags to the acre) was an average year of return. Travelling to school by bus on a bumpy and often dusty road to school in Loxton North and then Loxton was enveloped by farm work, sport, church (at the now closed St Martin’s – Bugle Hut) and other community events.
These formative years helped shape many of my core values that influence my actions, interactions and leadership. I am currently a member of St Michael’s Lutheran Church in Hahndorf. The message of Jesus is one I daily attempt to bring to my life. Family, vocation and community are critical elements of making my life meaningful, and what God enables me to give through my talents, nurtures, supports and strengthens these elements. I have served in Lutheran education for over thirty years, endeavouring to use my abilities to enhance the lives of young people and to share the Gospel message. Prior to undertaking my current position, I was Principal of Cornerstone College in Mount Barker, SA.
I have been fortunate to gain experience in a range of leadership positions and along the way been given wise advice and support by some excellent mentors and peers. The opportunities to engage with ongoing professional development, study and networking with other professionals and organisations have also helped, both in my contribution and leadership on a range of committees and boards, and for me to understand, support and shape communities and agencies of The Church. Through and in this journey, the ongoingly most important partnership is with my wife Celia, an exceptionally intelligent and talented person. We have also been blessed with three children, who constantly bring a mixture of joy, challenge and hope for the future.
My future vision for LESNW takes into consideration both the current challenges and opportunities that exist:
There a number of emerging priorities for consideration, including:
- Growing The Church through current learning communities and looking for opportunities via expanded and/or new ones.
- Strengthening sustainable leadership and Principal/Director growth and wellbeing.
- Enhancing governance capabilities.
- Continuing to viably staff our schools with people aligned with our mission and purpose, and with the skills and dispositions that express quality and care.
- Supporting learning communities with the growing compliance and reporting requirements.
- Enabling the growth of women in leadership.
Whilst being ongoingly faithful to our mission and vision and through the Lens of Growing Deep, I see three overarching emerging themes for LESNW:
- Building our shared capacity.
- Leveraging synergies of other Church agencies and educational associations.
- Enhancing community awareness and connection.
This requires the ongoing attention to our strategic plan, engaging with communities and networks and having the staff and skills at the LESNW regional office to make the connections and provide the services required.
The community and learning environments we find ourselves today are vastly different to what I experienced as an early career teacher and are continuing to evolve more dynamically than ever before. Navigating this reality and the interplay between Church and learning communities is important and imperative. LESNW plays a vital role in the support of schools and their leaders whilst also working in collaboration with Lutheran Education Australia (LEA) and the other school regions as agencies of The Church. At its core, LESNW exists to support learning communities to bring learning and God’s story to life. It is both a humble honour and privilege to be given the opportunity to serve in this role.
A final thought:
“We come before God clothed not in our own works or merits, but solely in the works and merits of Christ, which are imputed to us. But having been justified by faith, we are sent by God back into the world, into our vocations, to love and serve our neighbours.” Martin Luther