Interview with Mrs Tanya Crooks
Why did you apply for this role, and what brought you to Redeemer?
Education has been a vocation for me. Through my work in Lutheran schools God has allowed me to grow and develop as a leader. I felt called to the Redeemer community and instantly felt at home. The strong sense of community, the opportunities to build on traditions of the past whilst embracing the future, all grounded firmly on Christian faith, are all fine values that I share.
What do you enjoy most about being the Principal of Redeemer?
I am most excited about getting to know and understand the Redeemer community and through this process, identifying opportunities to develop education for young people which both supports and enhances their preparation for our rapidly changing world.
What schools have you previously worked at? (and roles)
My teaching career started many years ago in the state school system at Pine Rivers State High. During this time I was senior teacher in charge of Drama and was heavily involved in the performing arts life of the school. After a seven and a half year period living in London and working in business, I returned to teaching and took up a position at Grace Lutheran College (7-12), Rothwell. During my 12 years at Grace I held a variety positions, including Year 12 Pastoral Care leader, Assistant Dean of Students, Dean of Middle School – Pastoral Care, Head of Senior School and Acting Head of Campus – Caboolture and Rothwell. For the last two years I have been Director of Staff at Pacific Lutheran College (P-12), Caloundra.
What three traits define you?
Courage, kindness and determination.
What is your personal philosophy?
Be true to myself, be kind to others and look to God for guidance.
Who is your role model, and why?
I have been blessed to work with a number of amazing Lutheran leaders during my time as an educator. I would like to acknowledge and thank my wonderful role models, Fred Stolz, Principal of Grace Lutheran College (1980-2009); Mrs. Kris Stevens (1980-2009) and Mrs. Gail Simmons (2007-2010), both Dean of Students, Grace Lutheran College; Mrs. Ruth Butler, Principal of Grace Lutheran College (2010-2016) and finally Dr Bronwyn Dolling, Principal of Pacific Lutheran College (2001- ). All of these wonderful educators have been generous mentors and wise educators.
What does true leadership mean to you?
True leadership is modelled on the life of Jesus. As servant leaders we primarily focus on the growth and well-being of the people and the communities to which we belong. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus called [the disciples] together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We can spend a life time as a servant leader striving for this and knowing that when we err, as humans do, that God’s grace will support us. As a leader, I strive to hear, listen, prayerfully consider and decide, knowing I am both responsible and accountable for the Redeemer family going forward.
What are you most passionate about as an educator?
I am most passionate as an educator about young people developing their God given gifts and then discovering how they can use these skills for the benefit of others. I am also passionate about students developing deep, critical and creative thinking as they travel on their journey to maturity. Many of our young people will be presented with the challenge of creating their own work opportunities in the future and I believe we need to equip them with the skills and attributes to be successful entrepreneurs and problem solvers.
When you were a school student, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Despite being an ardent performing arts student during school, singing in three choirs, playing in 3 orchestras, acting in a lead role in the school musical and completing my AMEB Speech and Drama and Music exams all in my senior year, I chose to study a Bachelor of Law. At some point during my law study I realized that I was called to teaching and went back to my first love of performing arts. As a result I am a qualified Drama and Legal Studies teacher – not your usual combination!
What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
It’s ok to be unique! Work hard but remember to enjoy what you are doing. You won’t always get it right the first time, you won’t always be top of the class, get picked for the sporting team or asked to be lead in the musical. It is both our successes and our failures which join together to develop our character.
What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Despite appearances that I was a very girly girl growing up, as a teenager I used to help my dad (a builder) on weekends moving pallets of bricks by hand from one job site to another! In direct contrast my university part–time job was quite glamourous working as front of house at QPAC for six years when it first opened and being able to indulge in seeing an endless stream of drama, musical, opera, ballet and orchestral performances.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
I worked for four years in the travel industry whilst living in London and have also had times when I thought about returning to law. However my secret dream was to be an opera singer. I don’t think anyone knows that!
Where is your favorite place to be?
Anywhere I am with my family.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
I have had the blessing to travel all over the world. I have always enjoyed ancient history so the pyramids in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem would be highlights. However after spending a term travelling around Australia with my family I discovered that the natural beauty in our own country is the most spectacular of them all.
What is your favorite thing to do?
Go for an early morning walk along the beach with my husband and then have brunch with my family,
What is the one thing you cannot resist?
How do you define success?
Success for me is defined by living true to your faith and having these core values so embedded that they are part of your authentic self. By its definition then, success for me is a lifelong pursuit travelling with its companions of failure and hope.
What are your three most overused words/phrases?
Good question. I don’t know. I look forward to our conversations over the coming year to find out!
What is the best book you have ever read?
The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck, anything by Jane Austen and for fun, the Harry Potter series!
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I have had the opportunity over my life to be quite adventurous. I have gone white water rafting, hot air ballooning, snorkeling with barracudas, flown in a helicopter over an active volcano, hiked up Yosemite Falls, caught a barramundi in the crocodile infested waters of the Lower Ord River and swum with a whale shark off Ningaloo Reef. I have still to pluck up the courage to go skydiving!