March 8, 2016

After living and working at Sydney’s lower north shore, to the tip of northern NSW, Arndell Anglican College’s headmaster, Gareth Leechman and his family couldn’t be happier to now call Vermont their home.

With 80 per cent of students coming to Arndell from the Hawkesbury region, and their Vermont bus full each day, Gareth says the school’s good old-fashioned focus on comprehensive education, a strong community and Christian values means that Arndell is very much an integral part of the Vermont community, not to mention the fact that he lives here, too!

“When I took this job on in 2010, I didn’t want to be the fly-in head. Our family made the commitment to live here,” says Gareth.

Gareth says that life at Vermont is working out well for the Leechmans. With his three daughters at Arndell, his wife actively involved with the Anglican Church and community, and only seven minutes drive from home, Gareth says it gives them a great work/life balance and says his proximity to the school is the reason he can invest so much of his time and energies in it.

Their first house was at Bona Vista and Gareth laughingly says they made the big 500m move more recently to their six-bedroom house in Fernville. The larger block gives the family the opportunity to host interstate relatives, entertain groups of friends and make sure their three girls don’t fight over the bathroom each morning!

Gareth says his home offers him a balance of public and private time, and enjoys relaxing in their theatre room and parents’ retreat when he needs to recharge.

And there’s loads keeping him busy at Arndell! The school has seen unprecedented growth in student enrolments with now 1100 students attending from kindergarten to year 12 and there’s no reason why it won’t continue to grow in coming years, says Gareth.

The school has acquired the next door’s two-hectare block which will be developed as their new agricultural science centre, with cattle, chickens and vegetable patches. The new program will resonate well with the kids, says Gareth, who also mentions that the community’s love of the outdoors is reflected in the school’s success in equestrian events, BMX, netball and rugby.

Set on 20 acres of beautifully maintained lawns and ovals, the school has plenty of space for the kids to enjoy. Gareth says that the school has strong academic performance and aims to be the best HSC performing local school, but the school also prides itself on striking a balance between academia and more practical TVET subjects such as hospitality, with a number of students also graduating at year ten to pursue successful apprenticeship positions.

“We love Vermont, right from the outset we loved the blocks and when an opportunity arose to purchase we didn’t think twice. There’s such natural beauty here and semi-rural charm, with plenty of space for our family,” says Gareth.

“As Vermont develops, it’s not losing that charm, and more opportunities are coming to the area for our young people,” he says.

Expect more at Vermont

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