Stephen McGrath

Former St Andrews Lutheran College Deputy Principal Head of Junior School 1999-2012

Suzanne and I retired at the end of 2016, after many wonderful years of serving in Lutheran School communities, especially my time at St Andrews from 1999 - 2012. 

After leaving St Andrews, I spent two years as Locum Principal of a number of Lutheran Schools, filling in for the Principals who were on leave from those schools. 

This journey took me to Hervey Bay (where Luke Schoff, whom I had appointed as a graduate teacher to St Andrews a number of years earlier, is now the Principal), Gatton, and even down to Mildura in Victoria.  

I was then appointed as Principal of Grace Lutheran Primary School at Clontarf, where I had the joy of working closely again with Ruth Butler, in her role as Principal of Grace Lutheran College at Rothwell, which many of the students from Grace Primary attended in their secondary years. 

Suzanne also served in a number of roles at the College, so there was a very close connection between our two schools.

Following our retirement, we ‘hit the road’ in our motorhome, travelling around this magnificent country for the next three and a half years. At this stage, we had no idea where or when we would eventually settle down again. 

This was an absolutely amazing experience, and one which I can’t recommend highly enough. The sights we saw, the people we met, the challenges we faced (e.g. the time we hit a kangaroo on the way to Rockhampton), and the sheer enormity of our country, were memories that we shall have forever.

Towards the end of 2019, we purchased a home at East Devonport, having fallen in love with Tasmania during our extensive travelling. We are blessed with views of Bass Strait and the Mersey River, where we watch the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ ferries sail past each day, and which we use to travel to the mainland with our car.

We volunteer two days per week at a local Aged Care Centre, where the residents have become our Tasmanian family. We are also blessed with a wonderful circle of friends, with whom we fellowship regularly, and all of whom are ‘Climate Refugees’, having ‘escaped’ from the heat up north. 

Each winter, we travel to the mainland to visit family and catch up with our twelve grandchildren, now aged between three months and fourteen years. This is not to escape the Tassie winter, which we love, but to escape the heat of the mainland summer. 

Some members of the St Andrews community have even come across us during their visits down here, including a former President of the P and F Association. 

We still keep in contact with many of our former St Andrews colleagues, both electronically and in person during our visit to the mainland. 

Special memories of St Andrews 

This is a tough ask, as I have so many of them after thirteen years at the College. The privilege of watching young children enter Prep and then progress through to the Middle and Senior Schools, and in the case of the graduating classes of 2011 and 2012, complete their education at St Andrews, was without doubt the highlight of my time there. 

Friendships with so many families developed strongly over the years, and seeing the College grow from very humble beginnings to what it is today, provided the encouragement to keep going, even during the tough times. 

If there was one part of my role that I enjoyed the most, it would be visiting classrooms and seeing our amazing teachers and their incredible students in action. 

One very special aspect of this were the times when I would visit classrooms to deliver a student’s birthday Freddo Frog. The smile on the students’ faces said it all, and this was a great way to make sure that I spoke to each of the more than 600 students in the Junior School. 

I wish the St Andrews community of 2023 every blessing on your 30th Anniversary, as you celebrate God’s abundant provision, past, present and future.