By Michael Giles

ONE of the best things about this business is being able to share, even in some small way, the important events that take place in our community, week after week and year after year.
To witness, for example, the elation on the faces of those who worked so hard to bring the Karmai Community Children’s Centre to fruition, at their grand opening recently.
To see family members celebrate with their champions after a sporting victory, knowing the years of commitment that went into achieving the ultimate goal.
Appreciating the efforts of our volunteers, especially the fire fighters who willingly drop everything to answer the call, but also others like our junior sporting coaches, who are making good citizens of our kids.
It’s an absolute privilege to be able to share those moments with the people much more closely involved than we are.
One such occasion, last week, was the farewell to Leongatha Primary School Principal, Rob Higgins, after 41 years in primary education, many of those years as a principal of a number of schools across the region.
There may not be, in the history of that school, a person who will have more of an impact on the education of our kids now, and into the future, than Rob Higgins, having played such a pivotal role in the building of one of the best resourced primary schools in the state.
The new school might be high the list of achievements others ascribe to Rob Higgins on his retirement, but as he underscored at an emotional farewell in Mesley Hall last Wednesday, it’s all about the kids.
Empowering staff, finding a variety of ways to engage the students, not only in the hard work of classroom learning, but also in their own personal development as people… that’s what it’s all about and it’s clear that Rob Higgins gets it.
A former student, Ally Martin, who came back for the event, said as much when she spoke of the life skills she’d learned from a pet project of Rob’s, the annual HPV campaign: “None of this would have been possible without your selfless approach to your students.”
Although Rob officially retired last Friday, he is still leading the visit by 18 LPS students and their family members to Changshu Experimental School in China over the holidays.
It’s obvious that a motivated and talented principal, or teacher for that matter, can play a key role in equipping our kids to reach their full potential. It’s why they are held in such high esteem.
And Rob Higgins is just one of many we have in our schools locally.
But if we, as parents, think we can simply leave the task of teaching our kids to the schools and the teachers we’re fooling ourselves.
Such is the incredibly broad scope of what schools are expected to deliver today that it’s inevitable their efforts will be spread thinly in some areas, even vital areas.
As parents we need to have a plan for our kids’ education that includes us.
Where do we want to support their learning in vital areas? What opportunities do we want to give them in language, music, dance, sport or whatever? Are we equipping them with the life skills and experiences they need to survive and thrive? Are we, for example, allowing our youngsters unsupervised and unfettered access to the Internet?
Are we even equipped to provide the learning support that our kids need?
Maybe it’s time we went back to school to learn what it takes to be a good parent. For goodness sake, we are required to do 120 hours behind the wheel and pass an exacting test before we get a licence to drive a car!
Maybe, given the complex demands on schools and the education system today, it’s time the government rolled out a six-week ‘good parenting’ course for us all to complete, focusing on education planning and support for our kids.
Do you know what you should be doing to support your kid’s learning? You could start by asking a teacher.