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“It was meant to be”: Tallarook’s new principal on his first six months

Photo credit: Evan Wallace.
Feeling the drive: Seraphim Kyriacou is pleased with his first six months in the role of Tallarook Primary School principal. Photo by Evan Wallace

For new Tallarook Primary School principal Seraphim Kyprianou, the path in to education was irrepressible.

Born into a family of teachers, Mr Kyprianou, 33, spent his early years out of school fighting his passion. After starting a promising career in banking, he couldn’t quite leave his curiosity behind and switched to a teaching degree while selling mortgages.

It was a change he was incredibly happy to make.

“I wanted a career where I could be more involved and more present and it was probably one of the best decisions I made,” he said.

“There's something special about working with kids and engaging in that sort of level. And then I think one of the key things was when we were lucky enough to find out we were going to have our first child — I just realised the importance of family and being present.

“And I had the opportunity, because I'd finished my degree, to make a career change.”

The Reservoir man has made the swap from teaching in Thornbury, to Macedon, and now he is pleased to be in Tallarook.

“I'd worked such a long time in … very highly populated jobs. My first primary school was pushing mid-600 (students), real big school, large class sizes,” Mr Kyprianou said.

“As I progressed, there's a lot of administrative work that took away from what I would hope to achieve.

“And that's why I stepped into doing the leadership stuff because I want to be able to make a change. My last job was in Macedon. I think it was the cultural change, the community feel, the involvement that really got me.

“I love being out of the busy streets of the city. That was one of the main factors — just being out here, I think it helps me reset my own clock and put goals and ambitions into perspective.

“Yeah, so coming out here (to Tallarook), working with the people that we have here and seeing how committed they are to our school, to the students, to each other — it gives me this drive”.

Six months into the role, Mr Kyprianou is enjoying being able to take a hands-on approach to teaching and leading at the school of 12 students.

In the first half of the year, the focus has been on tailoring the school’s approach to individualised learning and adjusting to the responsibilities attached to the position.

Mr Kyprianou said he had been focused on “reviewing the actual academic needs of the students, how we can make their learning more contextualized and more focused and individualised”.

“We introduced a few things like numeracy programs and literacy programs that are digital, that allow kids to work independently at their own level,” he said.

“That was pretty much what we focused on for the first half (of the year), but also just …bringing ideas to the school council, working collaboratively to bring changes to the school.

“It took a bit of adjusting becaus it's a big, big switch.”

As a principal of a very small school, Mr Kyprianou is also adjusting to wearing more hats than most teachers.

It’s a challenge he enjoys.

“I love it is because I get to be involved in everything,” he said.

“It's another thing to allow your actions to show that you're fully committed to the school. At times, it can be really challenging because you have to make time during your own time to ensure that everything that needs to be done, is done.

“We have times where you come in ready to do some stuff but you have to quickly adjust. So long as the centre of the focus is the students, their wellbeing, their learning, their happiness … the school's nothing without our students and our parents and our community.”

Mr Kyprianou, who is also an avid camping, movie and sports fan, has created an environment where diverse approaches are the flavour of the day at Tallarook Primary School.

“The extra roles also help me enjoy the role more because I get involved in the teaching and learning, the specialist programs, the numeracy intervention, the literacy intervention, all of it. So I know what's going on in our school,” he said.

“Therefore, if I have a question from a parent, I'm involved. I'm there. I see it.

“It also gives you an opportunity to build relationships, meaningful relationships, that builds that trust with the kids and the families to have those conversations that allows us to target what people need.

“It allows me to grow with the school and the community as we work towards one vision and one goal. And I sort of feel like the timing, the pace and everything was meant to be.”

Mr Kyprianou is currently running personalised tours for 2023 prep enrolment. For more information, phone Seraphim on 5792 1752 or email tallarook.ps@education.vic.gov.au