Imagine the freedom to pursue a passion that has captured your heart and mind… Fred Clarke is doing just that. He is the overarching Principal of Northern Bay College (NBC), and is busily breathing life into a project that offers structured support for families of 3214.
Six years ago Fred made a short-term commitment to lead the setup of Northern Bay College, only to find he was caught up in a most rewarding way. Northern Bay College has 2,100 students on five campuses- four are P-8 (80% rebuilt with brand new facilities) and one is 9-12 (next on the refurbishing list). It is here we sit with this extraordinarily kind and motivated man to learn more.
To attract and support its students, the 9-12 campus on Goldsworthy Road has a crèche for students’ kids, and after school activities that run until 5pm (most of them are so engaged they don’t want to go home), a kindergarten, Family Centre and a Trade Training Centre attached.
Fred is continuing to work on ‘the Promise’, a guaranteed entry into tertiary education or employment for students. NBC is working to become a Full Service School, a One Stop Shop or Triage, where people are welcome to come for support and referrals to many services and agencies including help with housing, health and Legal Aid.
Studies have shown that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are the most important in establishing the building blocks for future success. Therefore NBC aims to connect with families as soon as possible after a child is born to reduce the risk of any developmental delay.
NBC established the Funds for the Future (FFTF) Board in 2012. The aim was to understand how the broader community can support improvements across the gamut of measures that help to define successful communities – and to develop an implementation plan. Its vision is for a community that is proud to live in the 3214 postcode and that sets and achieves high standards for all residents in terms of wellbeing, health, nutrition, education and employment.
‘A lot of families are isolated these days with no networks and little support. What we want to do is to build these connections,’ explains Fred, who is described by a colleague as “the type of leader I aspire to be”. The warmth of his big heart is felt and appreciated by so many in Geelong. NBC and our community are blessed to have this motivated man and his inspired vision.
Photo: Phil Hines Photography Written by Nadine Joy