Meet David Williams - Founding Principal of Donnybrook Primary School
As founding principal of Donnybrook Primary School at Mirvac’s Olivine community, David Williams is squarely focused on creating a place where students develop a lifelong love of learning within a culture that values compassion, integrity, and belonging.
As founding principal, how did you approach setting up the new school? What’s your vision for what you want it to become?
Founding a new school is a joy and a privilege. It’s also a lot of work. We’ve spent a lot of time really trying hard to get the fundamentals right, which for Donnybrook Primary School is about setting high expectations for learning and growth. This means putting all the building blocks in place so that our teachers feel well supported to deliver outstanding teaching every day.
Part of that is establishing a framework of values that guide the kind of community we want to build at the school. The first of those is compassion, which is more than kindness and caring, it’s about understanding and empathy and building a sense of deep connection and belonging in our school community. Because everybody belongs at Donnybrook Primary School.
The second is integrity, which is about acting with honesty, building trust with others, valuing relationships, and carrying ourselves in a way that we’re proud of our behaviour whether someone's looking or not.
The third is courage. This is about the courage to take risks with our learning, to stand up for ourselves, to stand up for others and to stand up for what's right. Lastly, we value ambition—as a learner and having goals and a pride in their achievements.
What will school be like for the kids under your care at Donnybrook Primary School?
Our students will be part of an environment that’s built on high expectations for all, with a strong emphasis on learning growth and social-emotional development. We use the most effective teaching methods which align with evidence-based practices in our classrooms, and that includes plenty of time interacting with their teacher and each other. It’s very engaging and active learning.
What motivated you to become an educator?
I think, above all else, I was excited about a career that had a sense of meaning and purpose, a sense that I was doing something that made the world a better place. I’ve always thought that great teachers lift kids up so that they believe in themselves and see new possibilities, both as a student, and in life. And so that's what I aspired to do as a teacher. I love those ‘Aha!’ moments when you’re teaching when a child takes a leap and realises they can do things they couldn’t do before, or understands something they didn’t know before, that’s incredibly rewarding.
Was there a teacher that made an impact on your life?
I remember going into Grade 5 and feeling like my teacher Mr Shea was a bit grumpy, a bit scary maybe. But what I found was that he set high expectations and valued the rigour of schoolwork. I must have gotten some good feedback from him, because suddenly I felt like I understood what was exciting about learning, and I couldn’t remember feeling like that before. I couldn't name all the things that I remember about Mr Shea, but what has stayed with me is the enjoyment in the intellectual rigour and the confidence that it gave me.
It’s the same thing I hope to give the students of Donnybrook Primary. We want our kids to leave with that sense of having success, that they're capable of learning, and having confidence and a sense of themselves as they go into high school.