Talking Heads: Mentone Grammar Principal Mal Cater

Mentone Grammar Principal Mal Cater in front of the soon to be completed music wing and auditorium. Photo: Michael Rayner

Mentone Grammar Principal Mal Cater in front of the soon to be completed music wing and auditorium. Photo: Michael Rayner

Mal Cater has a long history with Mentone Grammar. It’s not only because he’s been a teacher at the school since 1987. Or because he was the deputy principal (for six years) before stepping into his current role as principal – which he has had for the past 10 years.

“I’m actually a former student of this school so I am very passionate about Mentone Grammar,” Mal says.

He finished his studies at Mentone Grammar in 1981, leaving to pursue a career in accounting. But after a few years working in business, Mal was drawn back to the school.

“I’d always had an inkling that I wanted to be a teacher,” he says.

“I loved the environment of school and the diversity of activity that teachers did – not just learning but coaching football teams or directing school plays and all those sorts of things.

“So I came down here to speak to one of my mentors [Keith Jones] who was headmaster at the time and he offered me a job,” Mal says.

“I moved out of the accounting career and into teaching. I’ve loved it ever since.”

Mal taught commerce and business management to students at the school, passing on the values that have remained part of Mentone Grammar over many years, including respecting others and endeavouring to do their best.

While these values have remained part of the school, a lot of things have changed. “When I was a student, Mentone Grammar was a very, very traditional boys’ school and a very sports-orientated school. Now we’re a highly contemporary, coeducational school with more than 500 girls attending here,” he says.

“Over the last 10 years we’ve built new science facilities, a new prep to year 4 learning centre, established a year 7 learning centre, built a year 9 learning centre with a specialist curriculum and the latest building is the Creativity Centre, which is currently under construction,” Mal says.

Photo: Michael Rayner

Photo: Michael Rayner

Mentone Grammar’s Creativity Centre will give some subject areas – including music, drama and dance, art, food and wood technology, robotics and animation – a purpose-built home.

The centre will also house a recording studio and a theatre that seats 450 people. “It’s all part of a major roll-out of our master plan,” he says.

Growth in the school meant the Creativity Centre was needed for students – especially since subjects such as the music program had outgrown their current classrooms. “When we came up with this idea, we did the research about the holistic development of the brain, which requires students to be able to study a broad range of areas.

“So we want our footballers to be in the choir, we want our netballers being part of the school productions. We don’t just want sport for kids and we don’t just want arts students – we want them as good, broad individuals. The research shows that will lead to better academic results,” Mal says.

He hopes these changes will make a difference in the success of children and teens who attend the school. “Mentone Grammar made a huge difference to my life,” Mal says.

“I wasn’t a highly engaged student when I first came here years ago, but a whole lot of good mentors took me under their wings and made that difference.”

 

My Philosophy

It is very much about offering a broad curriculum to ensure that there is something that every child can succeed in to lead to them being a well-adjusted person.

3 things I have learnt

1. Patience. Know that you are dealing with adolescents and they will make mistakes. How we coach them through those mistakes is important.

2. Teaching is accommodating the modern learner – so we’re always relearning the way we teach on an ongoing basis.

3. Understanding what a modern student’s needs are and providing those. Things such as advanced technology, which will help students be prepared for the future.

 

About Mentone Grammar

  • An independent, coeducational school for students from ELC to year 12.
  • Together-APART-Together education model where year 5-9 girls and boys learn in separate gender classes; all other year levels are coeducational.
  • One campus, one community – small enough to know and care for each individual student and large enough to offer a wide range of academic subjects.
  • mentonegrammar.net

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