In this Q&A profile we welcome Mr Sam Huckstep as our new Head of Middle School (Years 7 to 9) at Matthew Flinders Anglican College.
We asked Sam to reveal his vision for the role and share some career highlights from his extensive work across schools in New Zealand and Australia.
Leading Years 7-9 at Flinders, Sam’s role is focused on enhancing student culture, developing a pedagogical framework for the Middle School and supporting the new and innovative Year to RISE program for Year 9s.
Q: What do you intend to bring to your role?
"I am excited about my role as the Head of Middle School. This is such an important time in the education of any young person and it is a privilege to be able to support students in their learning journey.
"Students in the Middle School face a number of challenges, including starting high school, relationships with their peers, achieving academic success and finding appropriate balance with the use of technology.
"With my strongest character strengths being zest, perseverance and hope, I am confident that these will be valuable assets in my role at Flinders. A calm and strategic thinker, I have leadership experience in creating positive student culture and developing effective relationships with students, their families and the community."
Please tell us about your background.
"I grew up in Wellington, New Zealand where I attended St Patrick’s College, completed both a Bachelor of Teaching and Bachelor of Commerce at Victoria University, and began my teaching career at Hutt International Boys’ School."
What have you enjoyed about your career to date?
"I have now been teaching Accounting and Economics for 15 years and have worked in a Head of House role for 13 of those, more recently as a boarding master at The Southport School. I often joked that I lived with my wife, my two girls and 60 boys. You learn a lot (and very quickly!) living with 60 boys aged 12-18, and it was a great experience to live residentially at the school.
"However, having two daughters meant that I was looking for a chance to be more of a part of their lives, so we relished having the opportunity to join Flinders. I have always enjoyed getting involved in the co-curricular life of schools, and have coached tennis, soccer, basketball and rugby, while also being involved in school productions and music groups."
What do you love about living on the Sunshine Coast?
"We only recently moved to the Sunshine Coast in December 2022. We love the weather, the beautiful beaches and national parks. My parents also live here on the Sunshine Coast, so it is great that our kids get to spend more quality time with their grandparents."
What hobbies do you enjoy on the Sunshine Coast?
"Surfing the Noosa points or at Sunshine Beach, running in the national parks, going for bike rides with my wife and kids and going for walks along the Noosa River."
What do you enjoy about working in a school community?
"I have always enjoyed working in schools and being able to have a positive impact on the students. It is also great to work alongside staff who are just as passionate about improving student outcomes, who are very professional and know how to have fun."
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
"Be bold, not perfect."
Who gave you the advice and how has it helped you to grow as a person?
"I have always had the confidence to try new things, to give it a go and not worry too much about success or failure. Rather than thinking about confidence in terms of self-belief, it is more important to understand that it is the willingness to try new things.
"I actually only heard this from Dr Neil Carrington at a recent professional learning workshop at Flinders and I liked how it so succinctly summarised my approach to life, and the way that I try to encourage and support both my own children and the young people I work with."