Tony O’Byrne - 50 years a leader

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Images from Tony O’Byrne’s 50 years of service celebration.23 November 2018

Colleagues, friends and family gathered last Thursday to celebrate Tony O’Byrne’s 50 years of service in Catholic education and his unparalleled trajectory as an educator and leader.

If there is one thing that stands out above all else in Tony’s career, it is his outstanding leadership skills. Recognised since the very beginning, they have been shaped through his journey as an educator.

‘At the end of the day, a good leader is someone who recognises the talents and the ability to lead in others’, he said, reflecting upon his years of experience.

‘His leadership is his biggest asset as an educator’, stated Regional General Manager, Robert Aron. ‘I see leadership in everything he does and the work he does with schools. He is a great listener and knows exactly what to do to empower others.’

Despite having worked at many great schools throughout the course of his career, Tony considers his 25 years as principal of Aquinas College, Ringwood, to be a personal highlight. Starting in 1989, he was able to transform the school from a very traditional model of education to the contemporary college it is today. He saw the school mature and grow under his leadership and implemented numerous programs for the benefit of his students, such as the sister schools program in France.

Currently working as a principal consultant for secondary schools in the western region, Tony has experienced firsthand the changes and challenges Catholic education has faced over the years, and has made major contributions to the evolution of leadership.

‘When I first started my career, leaders were more authoritarian than they are now’, Tony noted. ‘Back then, the principal was seen as the main body of authority whereas now, there is a more collaborative and inclusive approach to leadership.’

‘Tony’s guidance and leadership have made a difference and have changed the worlds of those students who have come under his inspirational care over the span of 50 years’, said Catholic Education Melbourne’s Executive Director, Stephen Elder.

Tony’s advice to future leaders is to ‘enjoy being a good teacher and a good leader, respect students and do what is best for them while having fun at the job’.