History of St Joseph's School




The school and parish of St. Joseph’s, Gayndah have a long history. As Gayndah is one of the oldest towns in Queensland, it is no surprise to discover that the history of Catholic education in the area is also very long. On September 13th, 1919, Archbishop James Duhig and Mother Mary Marcella (Sisters of the Good Samaritan Mother General) arrived in Gayndah for the opening and blessing of the new convent. By this stage, the parish was in its third church (having lost the first two to natural disasters) and the local parishioners had worked together to build the school and convent. St. Joseph’s School was not intended to be opened until January, 1920, but on his visit, Archbishop Duhig announced that the opening of the school would be on October 6th, 1919.
On October 6th, 1919, there were fifty-six children on the roll - George McLeen being the first name entered. Before the end of the year, there were seventy children enrolled in the school. Throughout 1920, the numbers increased and the first Scholarship winner was Michael Lutvey. Boarders continued to come to St. Joseph’s School and they were housed in the convent.
Since these early years, many Sisters, pupils and events have come and gone and left their impressions on St. Joseph’s School. One interesting event was that during World War II, when it was feared that the Japanese would bomb Brisbane, the Sisters and boarders from Lourdes Hill Convent were evacuated to Gayndah and housed in the convent and adjacent picture theatre.
In 1969, Golden Jubilee Year, the school still had an enrolment of around seventy pupils. Many families have continued to send their third and fourth generation children to St. Joseph’s School. In 1990, the Good Samaritan Sisters entrusted the leadership of the school to its first lay Principal, Mr Lindsay Dean. The Good Samaritan Sisters continued to take an active part in school activities.
In 1995, the school’s second lay Principal, Mr Gary Burdett was appointed. This was a significant year in the school’s history, for during this year, the remaining Sisters decided that it was time for them to move out of the convent building and into a smaller house in town. This was also the year when planning begun in earnest for the rebuilding of the school facilities. An application was eventually lodged with the Block Grants Authority for funding and this was approved in 1996. Building began in 1997.
In 1997, the school’s third lay Principal, Mr Lawrie Knott was appointed to the position in which he oversaw the building program. These developments have provided our students with modern facilities.
The year 2005 saw the closing of a chapter when the Preschool/Year 1 class moved out of the Convent building into the new purpose-built early years unit provided with funding from Brisbane Catholic Education. The unit was officially opened by Mr David Hutton, Executive Director of BCE on October 19. With the combination of financial grants and hard work by the parents of the school, the children were provided with tables and seats in the eating area, a senior and junior adventure playground and many classroom resources including laptop computers. Irrigation pipes were laid and a multipurpose court (basketball, netball and tennis) was completed in 2006.
Mr Liam Dougherty, was appointed to the position in 2006. The year 2008 saw the retirement of St Joseph's School's last Good Samaritan Sister from staff. Sr. Eunice Osborne spent 51 years in Catholic Education including the final 11 years as Learning Support Teacher in Gayndah. In 2010 the Building Education Project was completed which included the development of the library, gathering space and additional classrooms. In 2011 a federal grant of $2.4million saw the redevelopment of the convent into the Gayndah Arts and Cultural Centre. This project, with St Joseph’s School partnering with Gayndah State School and North Burnett Regional Council has seen this historical building restored and developed into a modern art gallery and art centre which is now enjoyed by all in the community.
The current Principal Ben Gray, took on the role in 2014. In his time he has introduced the a Learning and Teaching model into that school that forms the groundwork for effective learning and teaching in the areas of Numeracy and Literacy. In particular the school works hard to ensure that across the whole school there are consistent quality teaching practices that enable all students to achieve their full potential.
The school attracts funding from many sources as it is the most rural located catholic school in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. With a low SES it has attracted National Partnership funding which is focussing on consistency of planning and developing strategies to support student learning. ICLT has been a key focus, with new resources purchased to ensure that staff and students engage in the use of ICLT to enhance learning.
St Joseph’s school mission states that “through its ministry as a caring Christian community based on Gospel values, St Joseph's strives to provide a holistic education for its students recognising the uniqueness and potential of each child who is made in the image and likeness of God.” This motto drives the educational vision of the school. As a small rural school St Joseph’s family atmosphere is embedded in the school’s culture. Staff and parents are not only part of a school community but also a parish and town community. Enrolments have grown over the past few years (71 in 2007 to 108 in 2014) with most students coming from the rural areas of Gayndah. The school has welcomed many young teachers beginning their teaching career at St Joseph’s and sharing their great enthusiasm for teaching. The school has also benefited from some long standing staff who have carried the school’s story through the years.