The biggest classroom in NSWDoug Conway
Duncan Kendall’s latest “classroom” embraces the whole state.
The Old Trinitarian is a prime example of how an inspiring education produces inspiring educators, and his expertise has come full circle to benefit Trinity students for a second time.
As head of education at the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS), his brief is to encourage learning about agriculture in every school in the state, and Trinity was the first to sign up for both of his key experiential teaching programmes, Ag in a Box and Farm Days.
His career as an educator took him firstly to Bathurst Christian School, then back to his alma mater at Summer Hill from 2006-08, before he joined Scots, eventually becoming assistant Head Master, then Yeshiva College as principal.
He says he owes it all to the motivation and encouragement he received at Trinity, from the Preparatory School at Strathfield right through to Year 12 in 1997, particularly from former Head Master, Rod West.
After a light-bulb moment that steered him from foreign exchange trading to teaching, Mr West would phone him twice a year to check that he was still doing his teaching degree.
When he graduated, Mr West sent him a note of congratulations along with a book that had inspired him, an old classic called The Art Of Teaching.
“I’ve still got it,” he said.
“I believe Trinity has one of the highest numbers in NSW of students who go on to become teachers and educational leaders, and I think that shows through the personalised, caring, holistic education they have received.
“Mr West had a profound impact on me. He knew who I was, my interests, my passions, he knew all the names of my family, and he fostered in me a great love of learning.
“Academics [studies] were always at the forefront, but I can still hear Mr West saying, ‘I want you to be a Renaissance man. You can play rugby in the winter but you can be reading a Shakespeare sonnet in summer’.”
The Ag in a Box resource now in use at Trinity, designed by teachers for teachers, strives to plant the seed for an enhanced understanding of agriculture.
It integrates agriculture with NESA subjects using an International Baccalaureate (IB)-style thematic approach for a whole term.
Farm Day visits to RAS headquarters are heavily hands-on, giving students the chance to milk cows, and pat and feed animals including chickens, sheep, ducks, goats and rabbits.
They include lessons on how animal produce ends up in supermarkets and clothing stores, and how science is used to rear and feed animals.
Having Trinity join in the programmes gave him the chance to catch up with his old mentor, Richard Lever, Deputy Head of the Preparatory School, and Fiona Evans, Head of Curriculum.
Mr Kendall said one key lesson he learned from Mr West was “working for the common good – to use Trinity’s amazing resources for the greater good”.
“I’m now sharing education programmes throughout NSW.
“I love giving back to Trinity because Trinity has given so much to so many. I just loved my days there, and because I am so passionate about learning, growing and developing, I feel like I have never ‘worked’ a day in my life.
“I don’t have a background in agriculture, so I am still on my own learning journey myself.”