Posted by Br Gary Wison
on 17 June 2021
Tony Williams, the newly-appointed Deputy Principal at Francis Douglas (FDMC), New Plymouth, fits the type of teacher who sees life as a fruitful field of learning. Coming from a family of two teachers, he knows the craft and the creativity needed in educating youth today.
The Taranaki provincial capital and College have been the home of several staff. Tony grew up in the city, and attended Francis Douglas, as do his two sons Fletcher and Ewan. He took up the teaching profession shortly after completing school. The experienced success, teaching students during a Sports and Recreation course, led to Waikato University and completion of his bachelor of education degree.
After serving in primary education for some time, as well as experience in schools in Scotland, he decided to apply for the deputy position at his old College.
Tony himself speaks of the impact that the College had on him as a 13-year-old boy, the "level of care" he was given as he transitioned in his family life. He mentions, of course, the enjoyment of rugby, and his old coach, Br. Will Harnett. There was also the hook of current family members and friends being present in the school.
Critical for him is learning what are the needs of the teaching staff, and the expressed desires of the students.
The important role of a Deputy Principal includes, for Tony, his strengths of organisation and pastoral care. Critical for him is learning what are the needs of the teaching staff, and the expressed desires of the students. "A 15-year-old boy is no different (in many ways) to a younger child". What is required is "a listening ear". As for discipline, it is working within the structure, already functioning, with the Deans of the various year levels.
What are the distinctive features of Francis Douglas College? For Tony, it is how well teachers know their students, and the huge support of the staff for each other. In terms of curriculum, "Gateway", funded for 50 places, allows FDMC students to mix school with workplace learning and experience, delivering accreditation for national trade certificates. In addition, the Taranaki Trades Academy can be accessed to further a vocational qualification.
Tony Williams is fired to "working with others to achieve common goals", including seeing the development of the whole person of students. It sounds like a commitment that progresses over time, that one keeps learning in life.