As some of you know, I’m leaving RGS at the end of this term and moving on to be Headteacher of Tiffin School in Kingston and so, I’ve spent the weekend packing up my belongings in S01 – my side is finally looking clear and tidy! And as I’ve been going through my things, I’ve been reminded of some of the more amusing events of my time at the RGS. There was the charity assembly sketch about the lunch queue with my line that ‘water canon’ was by far the most effective way to maintain good order; and then there was Mr Woodman, Mr Pressley and me ‘performing’ on this stage singing ‘that’s what makes you beautiful’ in a band name ‘SO1 – Direction’. And as I move on from those sorts of memories, I’d like to leave you with a couple of thoughts.
The first thought is about leadership. I imagine that Ben Stokes will be a familiar name to many. For the benefit of non-cricket fans, Ben Stokes is the hugely talented cricketer who has recently progressed from star player to Captain of England. And as he has made that change, I found Ben Stokes’s approach to leadership, very interesting. In a recent interview Stokes said this: “I want others to have amazing careers, not myself.” And Ben Stokes’ attitude towards leadership resonates with me as a Christian. As we have just heard in the reading, the Bible says that Jesus Christ “came not to be served, but to serve”. Christ led by serving others – and that’s the style of leadership Ben Stokes says he aspires to. And as you experience leadership roles, maybe those words of Ben Stokes would resonate with you too – as a team captain or music or drama lead – “I want others to be successful, not myself”.
The second thought I’d like to leave you with is this. I believe in having a grateful and thankful attitude. The Bible talks about being “thankful in all circumstances”. I don’t always practise it. I can be grumpy too; but because I believe that God is both good and in control, I find it easier to have a thankful attitude, even in difficult circumstances.
And on that point of gratitude, I would like to close by saying how thankful I am to have worked here at RGS with such fantastic staff and also with all of you – such great students. Through connections such as: teaching History; working with the Senior Prefect team; coaching the 4th XI football team, and even and being promoted to the 3rd XI for one game this season (we did win, I hasten to add); and, of course, doing the lunch queue; through all those things and more I have particularly appreciated two things about all of you: one thing is your humility; and the other is your sense of humour.
You are all extremely able and so could be conceited about your abilities – but you’re not – you have a genuine sense of humility; and with all those abilities you could take yourselves terribly seriously – but you don’t – there is a great sense of humour in the school.
I have been privileged to have enjoyed a wonderful 14 years at the RGS. This is a fantastic school and I’d like to close that time by thanking you, the students, for your part in making it such a positive experience. Thank you for your humility and thank for your humour. And I wish all of you the very best for the future.