A focus on individual student needs and a university-like learning environment resulted in Manea Senior College principal Paul Mathews being named the West Australian Secondary Principal of the Year at the State Education Awards in Perth on Monday.
Mr Mathews has been at the helm of Manea since late 2008 and it has taken him just four years to establish the school as a stronghold of regional education with 380 Year 11 and 12 students from across the South West.
The principal said the award was humbling and gratifying but did not come as a surprise.
“Being recognised as an individual is nice but the award is really a tribute to the wonderful students and staff we have here,” Mr Mathews said.
“As one of the teachers said to me, it really reinforces and validates what we are trying to achieve and is incredibly encouraging.”
The college acts as a launch pad for regional students hoping to attend university or pursue vocational education and has strong ties with Edith Cowan University and the South West Institute of Technology.
“Sharing a campus with ECU and SWIT has really helped to promote the university style of education we’re aiming for,” Mr Mathews said.
“We’re able to make use of some of their facilities and offer classes which provide an introduction to what students will encounter at tertiary institutions.”
Mr Mathews is particularly proud to have won the award at a regional school.
“I think it’s great for residents of the South West to know that high quality education is available outside of urban centres and they don’t have to pay expensive boarding fees at schools in Perth,” he said.
The College’s constant innovation and ability to cater to the needs of a wide range of students means it already has a waiting list for 2013 and beyond.
“We’ll have around 420 students next year and really don’t want to get much bigger than that,” Mr Matthews said.
“Next year we’re introducing a program for future health and medical specialists, as well as evening classes for students who might work during the day or just want to take a course their school doesn't provide."