Growing up, Kimberley Tempest had no idea what she wanted to be.
There were thoughts of becoming a hairdresser and then a travel agent.
Eventually, like a lot of young adults who are unsure of what they want to do with their life, Mrs Tempest decided university was the best course of action and she enrolled in an arts degree.
Mrs Tempest has been somewhat of a ground-breaker from a young age. Growing up in Wodonga, she was the first person from her family to finish high school and the first to go to university; she attended Australian National University in Canberra.
A role working at the War Memorial in Canberra teaching history ignited Mrs Tempest’s passion for teaching, and a stint in Parliament House only served to fuel the fire.
Upon meeting the man who would become her husband, who was from Numurkah, she moved back to northern Victoria and began working at the newsagency owned by his family.
After leaving the newsagency business to move to Shepparton to pursue a career in education, Mrs Tempest was offered a job at Notre Dame College — and, as they say, the rest is history.
After a decade spent as an assistant principal in schools around the region such as Notre Dame College, St Mary of the Angels Nathalia and Shepparton High School, Mrs Tempest finally has the title she has been working towards — principal.
A week ago she had the honour of being appointed principal of Cobram Secondary College after serving as interim principal since October 2017.
Mrs Tempest met with The Courier’s Patrick Tansey to discuss how she plans to leave her imprint on the school.
Firstly, congratulations on the role, Kimberley. If you had to isolate one moment that inspired your love of teaching, what would it be?
I guess for me when I first went back to teaching, I had a turning point. I had this class of Year 8 kids for English and five of them couldn’t read. The depth of need was so great that I felt I could never fill it, and I felt so inadequate — and that set me on the path towards a Graduate Certificate in Special Needs Education.
You have been an assistant principal for so long, what have you learnt from those experiences?
This is another step but I am loving it. I’ve been an AP for so long, I’ve worked with a number of different principals and I can see what I can do for this school.
There is no perfect way to be a principal; I’m only human, but I have seen a range of people and the way they work and I still remember some magic moments of each principal that I’ve had before me and I’ve thought, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do that’.
You had an advantage over the other candidates, considering you had been acting as interim principal for the past few months. How confident were you heading into the application process?
I was very confident that I knew what the staff and students needed and my fit within the community.
Why do you think you were such a good fit for the school?
I’m at a school where staff go above and beyond. Generally speaking, staff here are totally committed to this school and this community. To me, that’s a fit.
I don’t want to just come to school get my money and go home. I come to work to put 150 per cent in and I love it. The harder it is, the bigger the reward I get back out of it, and I’m with staff that feel the same way.
That type of commitment does feed itself.
What were your perceptions of the school before you arrived?
Coming in as an outsider, I realised the teachers can’t always see how special it is here. I can see the programs we have here and think ‘wow, this stuff is really good, people need to know about this.’
I invited staff from Shepparton High to come here and see how we do Illuminate and the same with the leadership program we offer through Advance.
What do you love most about this school?
The kids. The kids are gorgeous here. They are good to each other and are really friendly. I have been to plenty of other places and really like the vibe here.
What will be your biggest asset to the school?
Enthusiasm and passion. I believe Cobram kids should be educated in Cobram schools and we are a fantastic local school that offers a huge range — so I want to bring kids back here.
The offerings for our kids are just as good here as anywhere.
People need to come and see what we have here and how we operate, because it is different to some perceptions out in the community.
What do you plan to improve here or do differently?
We are hoping to get ourselves out into the community more. We want to be out and about with the primary schools and have more links with community groups.
We are looking to grow and regenerate.
What are the immediate plans for the school?
We are about to create a farm garden which our VCAL students are taking an active part in.
What I would like to do is create some more hands-on learning for the kids who aren’t as academically inclined to do well or go to university.