Gratitude for the Efforts, Expertise, Care and Passion of Dr Paul Owens

As our Director currently undertakes the important process of selecting the new Principal for Kirrawee High School, it is with fond memory that we acknowledge and express gratitude for the efforts, expertise, care and passion of Paul Owens as our recently departed Principal.

Dr Paul Owens was officially the Principal of Kirrawee High School from January 2015 to January 2021. However, from 2015 to 2019, Mr Owens made his significant mark on our wonderful school before leaving to serve as a relieving Director of Educational Leadership until his permanent appointment to the role earlier this year.

As Principal of Kirrawee High School, Dr Paul Owens has personally expanded student leadership at Kirrawee High School from the traditional Student Representative Council (SRC) to the Social Justice Committee (SJC), White Ribbon Ambassadors Team, Student Environmental Committee (SEC) and Media Team. All groups are student-led and have provided the platform in which students can explore their passions and talents and be empowered as voices of positive change for their school community, the Sutherland Shire, and the world. In particular, Kirrawee High School is known for its prolific fundraising for the World’s Greatest Shave and was the top public school fundraising team in 2018, raising more than $50 000 towards finding a cure for blood cancer. During Dr Owens’ time at KHS, the school achieved official White Ribbon School status and proudly supported and enabled student-led peer mentoring of local primary school groups to foster positive relationships and viral social media campaigns about the impact of White Ribbon issues on young people. In 2018, Kirrawee High School achieved accreditation as a Positive Education Schools Association (PESA) school, which actively integrates wellbeing and positive psychology into the school curriculum to enable all students to flourish. All of these initiatives and achievements have been under the direct leadership of Dr Owens, who passionately supports and motivates his staff and, most importantly, his students, to explore and flourish in these given opportunities.

Paul Owens also oversaw the dramatic expansion of support for our First Nations students as a mentor and guiding hand for our Aboriginal Student Contact, Mrs Falconer. Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were afforded significant opportunities to explore and proudly share their culture with the school community, culminating in a number of our students receiving Deadly Awards and the establishment of the Larissa Behrendt Award at KHS.

Paul led a dynamic school community in which its’ proactive and articulate students, passionate teachers, and invested parents/carers unfailingly work together to fulfil the promise of its young women and men. Together with the KHS P&C, Dr Owens led a generational overhaul of the school uniform. For the first time in decades, the uniform was reformed to be more functional, more comfortable, and more accessible for all students. He was a passionate supporter of everything co-curricular at Kirrawee High School, equally committed to road trips with our Jazz Orchestra just as much with our state championship sporting teams. He was a Principal who was tangibly and genuinely proud of his school, his students and his staff.

Dr Owens’ tireless and infectious energy enabled and empowered his team of educators to not only deliver outstanding learning outcomes but also produce a generation of young Australians who are not only globally aware and passionately globally active citizens.

In short, whoever is selected to fill his chair has immeasurably large shoes to fill. This article, particularly its’ wordsmanship, does not even begin to convey Dr Owen’s impact and legacy on our school. We hope it goes some small way to express our gratitude for his time with us.

Kirrawee High School wishes Paul all the very best as the Director of Educational Leadership for the Bondi regional network.