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8th August 2015

New Chief Executive Officer

It is with great pleasure that national board of Christian Education National announces this week the formal start of Michelle Dempsey as Chief Executive Officer.

Michelle’s experience
Michelle is passionate about Christian education and brings to her role a wealth of experience in CEN. Michelle’s previous positions have included primary and secondary teaching, head of campus, deputy principal, principal, and state executive officer (Victoria). She is currently the national co-ordinator of CEN, assisting Ken Dickens as CEO. Michelle has directly supported, advised, and encouraged many of our school boards and our principals. She has also chaired the International Transforming Education Conference (ITEC15) committee for this year’s event in Melbourne.

Michelle’s educational journey
Michelle’s grandparents were pioneers of Maranatha Christian School in Melbourne. Michelle was educated at Maranatha, completing her VCE (Year 12) in 1988. She then studied a Diploma of Teaching at Deakin University before gaining a Bachelor of Education from the National Institute for Christian Education. She has since completed a Master of Education from the National Institute.

Michelle’s family and church
Michelle is married to Mic, a teacher and IT coordinator at Mt Evelyn Christian School. Their two children, Max and Meg, are students at Mountain District Christian School. As a family they are strongly involved with Hope in the Hills Christian Church.

Message from the national board
As national board, we know Michelle as a person of strong Christian faith who also has outstanding interpersonal skills and a tremendous work ethic. Her strong leadership capabilities have been recognised nationally in a variety of contexts and she has the ability to articulate a clear vision of Christian education to students, parents, boards, teachers, and principals. We are confident that Michelle has the talent and skills to successfully lead the CEN movement into the future.

Ken Dickens’ role
We acknowledge, with gratitude to God, the great contribution of Dr Ken Dickens to CEN, as our CEO. Ken is not being lost to us as he will continue and concentrate on his work as principal of the National Institute for Christian Education. He will be assisted at the Institute by Chris Parker. CEN and the National Institute will continue to work closely together, along with the advocacy group to which we belong, the Australian Association of Christian Schools (AACS). Martin Hanscamp is the executive officer of AACS.

The CEN national board is grateful to God and excited that we have such a strong leadership team in place to take us into the future.

Gerry Beimers
Chair of the CEN National Board

Tragic Accident at Gawa Christian School

Please be in prayer for the Gawa community at this time. In a shocking and tragic accident, a 12 year old student died during a sports activity on the afternoon of Thursday 6 August.  

We ask you to join with us in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Gawa.  It is our prayer that God would be particularly generous in the pouring out of his love and comfort on the entire community at this time.  Please remember Karen, the school principal who is on the ground managing the situation and Debra the CEO of NT Christian Schools.


The following is an update from Debra Twartz  written on Sunday afternoon after returning from Elcho Island:

As I write this, my beautiful daughter is cooking dinner and my amazing son is watering my plants. What an amazing gift from God our families are.

I am still struggling to comprehend the enormousness of this tragedy. I have come to accept over the past days that God’s particular protection and provision to me, is allowing me to maintain clarity of mind in the midst of this shocking loss.

I cannot begin to express my thanks for the prayers and messages of support that have been flooding in over the last few days. It seems timely to provide the CEN family with a bit of an update.

My time at Gawa was important and helpful. The counselling team were able to spend time with all staff and their families. It was my great privilege to spend time with the staff and community and see the incredible way people are pulling together in this time of crisis.

I have been particularly impacted by the way so many people have responded to this tragedy first and foremost as ‘people’. From the NT Department of Education, to the Media, Police, NTWorksafe and others. Although these people people have duties and responsibilities in their particular spaces, the collective responses have initially been as one human to another human. The tragedy of this incident has impacted all those who have come into contact with it.

There is no doubt that God’s grace and provision has been evident over the past few days. The overwhelming love and support that has come from the Gawa community has been amazing. There has been a consistent message of grace and ‘no blame’ that has come from so many community members. This support is truly ‘counter cultural’ and can only come from the one true God who unites us all under His spirit.

As with ripples in a pond, this devastating news has begun to spread to other communities over the past 24hours. Not all other extended family/community understand the strength of relationship between the Gawa staff and community. There has been some measure of angst as others hear of the tragedy and seek to apportion blame or claim retribution. What a miracle of God’s grace and provision that the members of the Gawa community continue to strongly affirm relationship and claim the Gawa staff as part of ‘the family’ during this grief process.

There are additional layers of complexity in that the child was a grandson of a senior leader of the Gawa community. The fact that the death took place on school grounds also means that the school buildings cannot be used (for the purposes of school) for the next week or so. It is likely that the funeral will take place in Gawa in several months time.

We are also so deeply, deeply thankful that the ‘right’ elders were physically present in Gawa following the death of the child, which is rarely the case. This meant that the staff were taking their direction from the correct traditional leaders and that no (unintentional) mistakes were made with regard to process and protocol following the incident.

In summary, the staff are deeply shocked and grieved yet coping with the situation. Without doubt, the love and support from the Gawa community has made the crucial difference in all of their hearts and minds. This is simply the beginning of what will be a very long journey.

I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers and support from the broader family of Christian schools across Australia too, including a significant donation from the CEN family in recognition of the additional costs of supporting staff and families in a remote context during this time.

We are at the beginning of a long process of supporting staff, students and their families through this complex trauma. Please continue to pray for all involved, that our God of peace may strengthen and comfort their hearts and minds at this time.

Please feel free to share the above information in whatever form you feel would be most appropriate. I have been thinking about what might be of best support to the Gawa team at this time. I am wondering whether letters/home-made cards of support might be appreciated. These could come from staff or students in any of our CEN schools.

The address for Gawa Christian School is:

PMB 257

Elcho Island via Winnellie

NT 0822

I’ve been having a bit of a think about who people might address letters/cards to and I think simply the “Gawa team”, “Gawa community” or just Gawa Christian School would be best.

Thanks again so much for all your care and support.

Yours in His service, Debra.

Debra Twartz
CEO, NT Christian Schools

Sad News for Kuyper Christian School

Our brothers and sisters at Kuyper Christian School would value your prayers. Colleen Keen, the school bus driver died in a plane crash recently. Colleen has been a deeply loved and wonderful servant of the school community both as a parent, current bus driver, unofficial photographer, graphic designer as well as serving many other voluntary roles within the Kuyper community.

Geoff Hewitt and the team at Kuyper would value your prayers for Colleen’s family and for the whole Kuyper community at this time. It is always hard to walk this journey of grief in a school community and we know that amidst the shock and pain, God’s strength and peace is present.

Michelle Reflects on ITEC15

It’s hard to believe that ITEC15 is behind us and I have to admit to a mixed feeling of joy and loss. The conference went so well and the conference organising team has been humbled and blessed by the responses of those that attended. A typical comment when I have spoken to people is “there was not one dud presenter” or “I am a bit of a conference junkie and it is the best conference I have ever been to”.

I have to note a couple of my own personal highlights:

the Sunday service which certainly set the scene of celebrating all of life belonging to God; the way the presenters built on each other’s ideas and concepts (without even pre-discussing it);

the common themes that ran through the conference; the warmth of collegiality and networking;

our awesome MC (Simon, our Tasmanian CEN SEO);

and the strong sense of growing ‘stronger together’.



ITEC15 DVD Resource

All attendees of ITEC15 have been sent a link to a portal where they can watch and listen to all keynote and strand presentations again–with the slides. This is free access and will be open for 12 months. However, if you would like to have more permanent, high resolution video and audio then we have produced a packaged resource for purchase.

Click here for more details

Click here to order

New Staffing in CEN National Office

Craig Humphris recently finished his time serving Christian schools as the senior financial officer for CEN. We are excited to announce that Alan McCartin will now be serving in this role. Alan is a qualified accountant with a breadth of experience working with and in Christian schools. Alan currently supports two other Christian schools with their finances.

We also recently thanked Amanda Hottinger for her faithful work with CEN, as she leaves to explore opportunities with her family business. Last week Alison Horwood joined the team to help with communication administration, websites, and contacts database etc. Alison has many years of administrative experience in the financial sector.

Christine Paech also begins with the Australian Association of Christian Schools in September as executive assistant to Martin Hanscamp. Christine also comes with many years of experience working in Christian education.

Contact details:

Click here for images and details of the entire CEN National Office team

Position Vacant – CEN State Executive Officer, Victoria

Expressions of interest and applications are sought for the position of state executive officer to serve Christian Education National schools in Victoria. This position is 0.6 or 3 days per week. The successful applicant will be responsible for promoting and coordinating the many aspects of CEN in Victoria, including the resourcing and supporting of principals and boards of all CEN schools in Victoria. The position will commence in December / January with a handover phase with the current state executive officer.

The successful applicant will be based in Victoria.

Applicants need to be thoroughly committed to CEN’s biblical basis and vision and possess demonstrable management, leadership, and communication skills. An educational background or significant experience and understanding of the Christian and independent schools sector is preferred. Experience as an educational leader would be an advantage.

The successful applicant will be responsible to the Victorian CEN State Council as a committee of the CEN National Board.

Expressions of interest, complete with current CV, should be emailed to Sue Goudswaard (CEN Board Member):

… by Thursday 20th August 2015

Click here for further information including job summary and selection criteria


Position Vacant – CEN Finance Assistant

The CEN National Office (Mulgoa, NSW) is seeking a financial assistant for 2 days a week for data management with MYOB. Candidates need to be committed Christians in good standing within an evangelical congregation.

CVs and expressions of interest should be sent to Michelle Dempsey by 14 August 2015.


Expression of Interest for Registrar Position

God has blessed Ingrid Jeffries (Registrar for the National Institute for Christian Education) and her husband Matt, with a new addition to their family. This means that the Institute is looking for a maternity leave replacement for Ingrid. Ingrid will be finishing towards the end of the year and a period of ‘hand-over’ is anticipated.

This is a 0.8 FTE role and is based in the CEN National Office (Mulgoa, NSW).

Please send an expression of interest to Ken Dickens (principal).


Parent Information Night: Digit@l Parenting

Recently, Chris Parker spoke at a parent information night at Strathalbyn Christian School in Geraldton, WA. Chris spoke about the issues to consider when parenting digitally connected children. It was well recieved by the 50 or so parents attending. The advertised information for the night was as follows:

Digital Parenting:

Exploring issues when parenting digitally connected children

Facebook, Forums, Sexting and Snapchat; what in the worldwide web is happening? More importantly, how do I parent well, with my children being connected to so much digital distraction and alternative views of the world and life? What is helpful and what is unhelpful—and where is the line between? We want to invite you to a vital information evening about social media, presented by Chris Parker. Social media, has a profound effect on young people, the way they understand themselves and their friendships. While it can be a tool of great good, all too often it is the cause of great anxiety and damage.

This workshop/presentation is designed to equip you in navigating your children through the opportunities and threats that a digitally connected life brings, and towards the true view of all things found in the cross-centred story of the Bible.


New Principal Appointments

It’s with excitement that we announce the following recent appointments to principal positions in the following schools: Emmaus Christian School – Erik Hofsink, Annandale Christian College – Dan Clarke, Launceston Christian School  – Adrian Bosker.


National Board Chairs Conference

Attention board chairs and deputy board chairs. Please set aside Thursday 15th October – Saturday 17th October 2015 for the National Board Chairs Conference in MELBOURNE. The theme of the conference is “Godly Governance – Leading Vision Driven Schools” and will feature John Sikkema as the plenary speaker. John is the executive officer for Halftime Australia and the author of the book “Enriched – Redefining Wealth”.

The conference is suited to all board members and interested principals, though the program is designed particularly to focus on board chairs and deputies.

Click here to register

Email Philippa de Haan for any questions or enquiries

Governance Training

Can we remind you that CEN has been approved as an accredited provider of board training under the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards in NSW. What does this mean? Well, in NSW, each board member is now required to participate in accredited board training for 4 hours per year as part of compliance for schools. We don’t think that Victoria will be too far behind in this expectation. It is our aim by next year to have online board training modules for all boards to make use of through our website. Stay tuned for more details!

Developing Leaders Conference

The Developing Leaders Conference has been a significant event on the CEN calendar over the past 14 years. This year is no exception! Many principals have attended the conference in the past and have found it encouraging, challenging, and a great opportunity for networking.

The theme for the conference this year is “Here I Am”. Here I am to worship, lead, and serve.

This year it will be held on the Gold Coast from Tuesday 18th – Friday 21st August.

Christian Education National conducts an annual conference targeting teachers who have been identified by their school leadership as a potential leader within Christian education in Australia. Delegates are primarily from CEN schools but have come from a variety of contexts around Australia.

Topics such as what is a leader, traits of effective leadership, leaders shaping their sphere of influence, leadership dilemmas are engaged. All of these sessions have as their foundation a cross-centred worldview and have an interactive and pragmatic dimension. Previous delegates speak of the richness of hearing from experienced leaders and what they have learnt in their journeys—in fact many key leaders in Christian education in Australia will speak of the inspiring influence that this conference had on their leadership path.

Schools are encouraged to send delegates for two years to consolidate and deepen their thinking and learning on leadership.

Further study opportunities are available for delegates towards their postgraduate study with the National Institute for Christian Education through follow-up study groups with Institute lecturers organised regionally.

Click here for further information

Click here to register

Tourism NT Supports Education in the Top End

We would like to bring to your attention two wonderful opportunities for teachers and schools being offered by Tourism NT:

1. FREE Teacher Familiarisation Tour in the Top End of the Northern Territory
Only 10 spots available, 18 – 23 September 2015

Tourism NT is hosting their annual NT Educators Familiarisation to the Top End in 2015 and are looking for interested teachers to participate!
There are only 10 spots available on this trip so make sure you contact us now!

Return flights from your home town to Darwin (economy)
All accommodation in Darwin, Mary River, Kakadu and Katherine (total 5 nights)
All meals as per itinerary (Breakfast, lunch, dinner most days)
All touring and entry components as per itinerary
All transfers and transport

Visit Kakadu, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks
Cruise Guluyambi with Aboriginal Guide in Kakadu
Cruise Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk
Entry and Tour of Crocodylus Park
Privately guided tour with Kakadu Cultural Tours

Email and answer the questions “What do you want to see students get out of an excursion to the NT?”

*Trip is only available to one teacher per school. Teacher must work and live outside of the Northern Territory. Participants must partake in all activities as per the itinerary.


2. NT Learning Adventures – $1000 to help bring your students to the NT
NT Learning Adventures invites you to explore the Northern Territory to discover the boundless educational opportunities and connect with our land and our people. Immerse your students in rich Aboriginal culture, our pioneering heritage and our captivating landscapes. NT Learning Adventures are a collaboration of educational tourism experiences that are aligned to the Australian Curriculum. Meeting the needs of students and teachers, this collective of educational tourism specialists offer a range of tailored experiences that deliver real education outcomes throughout the Northern Territory.

Visit the NT Learning Adventures website for more information and start planning you NT Learning Adventure today.