Colin Prentice - Inspiring Example
31 May 2019
Colin Prentice came from a working class background. His father would drill basic maths additions and multiplications at the dinner table. Colin’s father was equally surprised when Colin earned a scholarship to the best high school in Auckland. His father was astounded when Colin turned down the scholarship to go to the nearby Mt Roskill Grammar School.
Colin went on to be a passionate English teacher. When he became a deputy he was noted for creative discipline and often had his recalcitrant students doing a 6km run with him. The students begrudgingly came to respect Colin’s sense of fair play, compassion but unyielding firmness.
On one occasion Colin heard that a number of students were smoking at the bottom of the cliff that opened out onto the sea near the school. He knew that they had sentinels watching for teachers at the top of the cliff. Colin went out about 15 minutes early one lunchtime and was swimming out at sea when the students poured down the steps to the beach. They were absolutely stunned when he emerged from the surf and caught them all by surprise as they were gazing nervously up the cliff face instead.
Colin had high expectations and always believed the best of each student. He was able to think outside the box and inspired his students to achieve their best. He believed in the value of sincere praise. A committed Christian, he unashamedly expressed his Christianity while teaching in the state system.
Colin loved a challenge and took over a new school, Macleans, and set a fantastic tone over the next few years with an emphasis on firm discipline, good manners, academic effort, leadership and excellence. He lived and talked his values, inspired his students and believed in them, and expected them to do their best.
Colin then left the thriving Macleans and returned to the school he had attended as a student – Mt Roskill Grammar. By this stage it was very mediocre and required a lot of hard work to change the culture and the tone. He again inspired a generation of high school students to put in a 100% effort, to celebrate their effort and aim for their best, to lift their attendance rate and to show respect for themselves and others.
Finally Colin changed careers and took over New Zealand World Vision as the Executive Director. He spent a number of years in this role and saw the impact of World Vision increase across the country. His philosophy of leadership is one that is service focused.
I have had the privilege of listening to Colin Prentice twice. He is as inspiring as the book he wrote, When People Matter Most. I would commend to you the principles that he espoused as parents. I would encourage you to also have high expectations for your children, to praise where it is due, to aim for the stars and encourage service and great values.