I started this venture 25 years ago, with at the time 4 kids in a little house on the land we are on today. We started because we thought we needed to do something. We weren't sure exactly what or how, but we knew WHY. I cannot believe how the school has grown. We learnt a lot of hard lessons over the years.
When they were forming the Human Rights commission; they wrote to all world leaders to establish what should be the basic human rights. Naturally Education came up – everyone agreed to that. What is interesting is when they wrote to Mahatma Gandhi to ask him for his contribution; his response was “before we can have a list of human rights, we need to have a list of human responsibilities”. The people that work at Toogoolawa feel the deep responsibility to be teachers. They are passing that responsibility to the children, like Gandhi. I believe that rather than trying to fight for our rights, we should try and establish first what our responsibilities are.
When I look at the school and the world of difference we have made to these kids, I cannot take credit for this, as deep down I know what the teachers in this school are made of, what they have to go through everyday to educate these children and change their perspective on life and behaviour. I also have great respect for Gerry, the principal of the school, without whom the school would not be what it is today. His passion and altruism, his dedication to the world of Toogoolawa is without limit, and I truly am grateful to have had Gerry hold that school together for so long.
We celebrated 14 graduations this year and I can tell you there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when it came to honouring the young men they’ve become in the space of a few years. I do wish those kids the best in their future outside Toogoolawa.