When I began reading ‘The Heart of Education’ I was unaware of the extensive leadership experience and influence of Rod West. Like many others, I knew that he had been headmaster of Trinity Grammar School for 20 years. What I discovered, as I read Rod’s life story, was that he was an inspirational teacher and headmaster whose faith was pre-eminent in every aspect of his life. He transformed several schools as he concentrated on relationships with staff and students rather than the process of education. Under Rod’s stewardship 33 teachers have become headmasters.
The book records Rod’s life from his early years in Balmain to his teaching experience as a passionate Latin teacher. Rod recorded teaching experiences in 7 schools. He began teaching in country New South Wales, then Sydney, England, Victoria, and finally two other schools in Sydney (Kings School and Trinity Grammar School). The final chapters of the autobiography record his later years, where he chaired a Federal Government committee reviewing universities in Australia. Following this he served several short term principalships in schools where a stabilising lead was needed.
In his book, Rod writes humbly and honestly. He reveals the challenges, failures and successes he faced in every role he fulfilled. It was a joy to read how his leadership impacted so many lives and how he willingly served every community where God placed him.
Although Rod completed his Headmastership of Trinity in the mid-nineties his model of Christian leadership is very applicable today. He may not have had the technological and societal challenges that we now have, but his principle of ‘people and relationships first’ resonates for all of us. I thoroughly recommend ‘The Heart of Education’ for leaders and those aspiring to leadership.
West, R. (2016). The Heart of Education. Narrabeen, Sydney: Salt and Light Publishing.