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Suzanne Bain - St John's Anglican College

Thirteen years ago, highly regarded independent school leader Suzanne Bain took a school with an uncertain future and transformed it into a thriving, celebrated College with a loyal following of families.

St John's Anglican College, located in Brisbane's south-west, paid tribute to Ms Bain's vision, drive and legacy in the December issue of its magazine Footprints. Independent Schools Queensland thanks the College for allowing it to reproduce the tribute below.

Our departing Principal, Suzanne Bain, leaves behind a noble legacy of outstanding academic achievement, high moral standing and a solid financial footing for a bright and assured future.

St John’s Anglican College is a far different place from what it was in 2005 when Ms Bain was appointed CEO and Executive Principal.

It wasn’t even called St John’s then. It was Forest Lake College and it had an uncertain future at the time.

The official 25-year history of the school, Living Forest, puts it quite bluntly: “The cold reality, not fully appreciated in the wider community, was that she was destined to preside over the revival of the College or manage its closure.”

The book credits Ms Bain’s strategic thinking with the reversal of the College’s fortunes over the following seven years.

Ms Bain brought with her a wealth of educator experience having started as a primary teacher in the 1970s before completing a Diploma in Special Education, an education degree from the University of Southern Queensland, a Masters in Curriculum Studies from the University of New England and a Masters Degree in teaching performance management and teacher professional development.

She had worked in leading schools including St Ursula’s College Toowoomba and was instrumental in the successful launch of Cannon Hill Anglican College and went on to serve as Principal from 1991 to 1999.

In 2000, she formed her own Management Consultancy company and was involved in a range of organisational membership and leadership of various education committees and organisations.

With this background, Ms Bain began her time at Forest Lake in a consultative role with staff and parents, working to heal the rift that had developed while also making some tough decisions.

Her strategic vision for the school involved a name change in 2011 to St John’s Anglican College.

More than just a name change, it affirmed the Anglican identity and was supported by a raft of achievements and facilities, including Little Saints Kindergarten, Primary resource centre, the Sports dome, the Performing Arts Centre, relocation of the International College to the secondary campus, among others.

All of those tough decisions Ms Bain made back in the mid-2000s have created outstanding educational facilities where the focus is family centric. 

Staff stability has never been better and workplace culture is collegiate, supportive and ever-improving.

Deputy Principal Glenn Johnson describes Ms Bain as “an inspirational leader and role model”.

“Sue develops in others both the ability and desire to deliver the best outcomes possible.  It has been a real pleasure to travel this journey with Sue,” he said.

Deputy Principal Robern Hinchliffe agrees.

“Sue is a remarkable leader and strategic thinker who has created and sustains a moral and ethical tone in the College that is the envy of many other schools,” she said. “I will dearly miss her mentoring and her genuine friendship.”

Reverend Susan Crothers-Robertson describes Ms Bain as a “remarkable and faithful Principal”. 

“A person of great integrity and wisdom. We are so grateful for all Sue has done for the College. An inspiring woman, we pray for God’s many blessings on Sue, as she journeys into the next part of her life.” 

College Development Manager Janette Collins said she has experienced first-hand “the amazing leadership, the tough decision-maker and the ultimate strategist”.

“But I have also seen her heart melt when students come to her door; struggling families supported and empowered and I have seen the very best in humanity while working these 13 years only a hall way away from Sue’s office.”

Ms Bain is embarking on a new phase in her life where she hopes to travel and consult to schools that are in need of mentoring leadership in tough times.

We wish her well in her future endeavours.

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