After 11 years at the helm of Our Lady of the Rosary (OLR) Catholic Primary School, principal Brother Nicholas Harsas says farewell to the Fairfield community at the end of the year.
Previously he has been the principal of St Therese Catholic Primary School, Sadleir-Miller (2004-2007) and Patrician Brothers’ Catholic Primary School, Fairfield (1998-2003). He also held the positions of religious education coordinator of Patrician Brothers’ Catholic Primary School, Fairfield (1994-1996).
The Champion caught up with Br Nicholas as he prepares to take up the position of principal at Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School, Carnes Hill from 2019.
How are you feeling as you time at OLR come to an end?
As I come to the end of my time at Our Lady of the Rosary School, Fairfield I leave with very much mixed emotions. I am sad to be leaving a school community that is very dear to me and all the people who make up this wonderful school community – staff, students and parents. At the same time I know that OLR school is in a really strong position and that I have helped to make this so. After 11 years OLR School is very important to me and I have been blessed to work with so many good people and educators and so I go from here greatly enriched. I am excited about the prospect of joining and leading a new school community, Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School, Carnes Hill.
What will you miss the most about the school?
I will miss the members of the school community most of all. It is the people who make up a school community and the staff and students at OLR School have made my leadership of the school a real joy. They have made the turning up at work each day something to look forward to. Their commitment to teaching and learning and nurturing faith is second to none. Each morning when I am out on the playground and I am greeted by the children, whether they are in Kindergarten or Year 6, the day is off to a great start. I will certainly miss these happy and smiling faces each morning.
Do you have a highlight of your time?
There have been many highlights of my time as principal of OLR School and it is difficult to prioritise them. The rebuilding and refurbishing of the school was certainly a highlight, the school's 90th anniversary this year is another but the real highlight is the pride in which students, staff and parents hold the school. We believe it is the "best school in Australia.”
What are you most proud of in your time at OLR?
The morale of the school community gives me most pride. OLR School is very much a welcoming, hospitable, friendly and inclusive Catholic school. We all work together to make this so. We have high expectations for all we do and it shows. Academically and in Catholic Identity and Mission OLR School shines. I am just so proud of the dedicated and committed teachers and staff who have worked so closely with me in supporting the students to always do their best, and in turn, the students rise to the expectations. OLR School is a very proud school.
What are you looking forward to in your new role?
In my new role I am very much looking forward to getting to know the staff, the families and the wider parish community. Together we will work together to provide the best in teaching and learning and faith education for the students.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would just like to thank everyone in the school community – students, staff, parents, priests, parish – for all they have done to support me in my principalship of OLR School over the past 11 years. I could not have done what I have done alone. It is the support of those with me who have helped to continue to build the wonderful school that is OLR School, a school that has served the Fairfield community for 90 years.
The farewell tour
The Br Nicholas Farewell Parish Mass was held on Sunday which was a chance for the parish community to say goodbye.
On Thursday the St Nicholas Student Assembly was held followed by a parent afternoon tea.
On the Feast day of Saint Nicholas, pupils presented a special This Is Your Life presentation to Br Nicholas, recalling memories over his past 11 years.
On Thursday, December 13 there will be a final farewell celebration with a whole school community mass.
There are so many amazing qualities that make Brother Nicholas Harsas stand out from the flock and that is enshrined in his dedication, passion and commitment to always going that extra mile to support others and make their lives better as a result.
At Our Lady of the Rosary in Fairfield, 98 per cent of the students come from a non-English speaking background, with a little more than 80 refugee students enrolled at present. The proportion of students who come from a language background other than English has been steadily increasing over the years and Brother Nicholas has been there every step of the way. Brother Nicholas has been at the forefront of program development and new initiatives aimed to support the education, safety and wellbeing of his students and their families.
As a local community leader, he has always set the bar high for not only himself but also those around him. Brother Nicholas believes by working together and supporting one another we can help each other reach our full potential and be the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be. This is something he has helped countless students and families realise throughout his time as an educator as he is a firm believer of education for all. The number of former students who choose to enrol their own children in the school where Brother Nicholas is serving stands as true testament to his devotion and the impact he has on students' lives. Brother Nicholas Harsas remains a "brother" to many as a result of his positive impact on so many lives as an outstanding teacher, distinguished principal, and a source of strength and wellbeing for his community.
Brother Nicholas has had a tremendous impact on our local community in Fairfield and we will be forever grateful for his contributions. On behalf of the Fairfield community I take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Brother Nicholas for everything he has done for our area over the years.