When many alumni, staff members and ex-staff members think of St Stephen’s, the friendly face of Brian Plowman is often one that springs to mind.
Brian still remembers being hired in 1983 – the process starting with several “snail mail” letters exchanged between him and founding Principal John Allen-Williams. They organised a half-day interview the day after Brian and his family arrived in Australia on August 25, 1983.
“We arrived on a Thursday, I had a Friday half day interview with him, he gave me a tour oft the Duncraig Campus which was a long way from completion, then gave me a file with a contract in it! I was stunned. I said ‘this is a contract for employment!’ He said, ‘is everything ok with it?’” Brian laughed.
“So I was hired and my new life in Australia began faster than anyone except God could fathom.”
Brian was hired to lead Physical Education and Health and to teach the new subject of Integrated Studies, which involved Society and Environment, English and Religious Studies.
In 1985 he was appointed as Dean of Students, which he held until leaving for Carramar in 2002.
“When I went to Carramar, it was as Dean of Parresia, a subject teacher (English, Faith and Values) and Dean of Students until 2005 when a leadership restructure saw me promoted to Deputy.”
After being a true Timean for 19 years, Brian still remembers taking over Parresia house who hadn’t won anything for three years.
“I remember meeting the parents and kids for the first time and eyeballing them all and I said very slowly, ‘don’t get used to losing’,” Brian laughed.
“Jessamy Ham, who became one of my captains told me years later that it was a moment all the parents and kids looked at one another and said ‘yikes’ but Parresia won the Swimming Carnival that first year and I was so proud of the House.
“In 2012, I moved to a part-time role as Director of Wellbeing, which I am told was the first such position in an Australian school, and I retired in April of 2015, having moved to Mandurah in 2012.”
Always one to keep busy, Brian fills his time with many pursuits, including his role as a celebrant. He reflects on St Stephen’s School fondly and the important role it has played in his life.
“The School has been my Mother, Father and my child,” he said.
“I was taught so many wonderful lessons by the dedicated and loving staff; the Heads gave me lots of respect and trust and allowed me to grow; to the students of SSS I owe so much because they trusted me and other members of staff to do things differently.
“We built a system of care and fellowship that was 20 years ahead of anything in Australia.
“It is a lifetime of great memories - the camps, the “man in the white coat” legend, the laughter, which was so important, the comradeship and discipleship of staff.
“I still keep in touch with hundreds of students and I have performed almost 50 marriages of theirs over the years.”
As Brian wrapped up his reflection, he pondered how a School is an organic body, “sensitive to what’s happening around, through and inside the whole”.
“It has always depended on people to do that extra, encourage the more, believe at risky levels and do what they think needs to be done,” He said.
“Loving God Lots is the base of the pyramid. There have been different chapters and it hasn’t always been easy. But when I look back at 128 students and 7 staff who struggled to develop tradition, fit into the Independent School mould and do school differently, I’m proud to have been there because the first class taught the second and they the third and so on and so on…. as Mother Theresa said “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”