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Cape Naturaliste College's Rob Nail wins WA Secondary Deputy Principal of the Year

Deputy principal: Cape Naturaliste College's Rob Nail was awarded WA Secondary deputy principal of the year. Photo: Department of Education.
Deputy principal: Cape Naturaliste College's Rob Nail was awarded WA Secondary deputy principal of the year. Photo: Department of Education.

Cape Naturaliste College deputy principal Rob Nail felt the weight of the school on his shoulders when he was at the WA education awards on Monday morning.

"I was terribly nervous," he said.

"I wasn't desperate to win it but I didn't want to let anyone down at the college."

Mr Nail was one of the founding teachers of the college who helped in the planning stages of its opening in 2008.

"It's been a fabulous journey with enormous responsibility. All of us in the beginning felt that, there is nowhere to hide when starting a school.

"But a really exciting and interesting journey of watching it grow, one of my great joys is seeing as it grows and gets bigger - it has gotten stronger and stronger."

Mr Nail started his teaching career in Perth and not long after moved to Mullawa and then Narrogin.

He then spent time as deputy principal and head of department in Merredin.

"That was great time for me professionally, as I learnt a lot about leadership and the role of being deputy principal," Mr Nail said.

When Mr Nail and his wife first left Perth they thought it wouldn't be long until they moved back there.

"But we have loved being regional so have never gone back," he said.

"It's great to be part of a community that is tight and supportive of everybody."

To say Mr Nail loves his job would be an understatement as he lives and breathes the role of deputy principal.

"Its an exciting role, you're dealing with the tricky interface of teacher, parents and students...which is engaging and rewarding and very social role," he said.

"The other part is strategic leadership.

"It's a lovely mix of working with people and solving problems and planning things to improve the school."

A challenge that everyone at the school and the Busselton community faced earlier this year was when two students sadly passed away in a car crash. Mr Nail said he did not want his success with the award to look like he was leveraging off the sadness that families are still feeling about the tragedy.

"It has been really heartening to watch the strong relationships students have with each other get stronger. But also their relationships with teachers and the teaching staff at the college, those relationships have been critical to the resilience of individuals and the school.

"Relationships are key to dealing with adversity and it's when you need to lean on those relationships that is makes it easier to get through difficult times."

The process of winning the award was more emotional than Mr Nail had expected.

"It was unusual to have that much attention and I found it emotional," he said.

As part of the judging process a panel interviewed staff, parents, students and Mr Nail.

"When I was reflecting on everything, I realised how important the college was to me," he said.

Mr Nail said he loved to watch the students grow and be connected to the school.

"To see that staff have made a massive difference to the kids' lives is great," he said. While getting attached to the students is almost inevitable, Mr Nail said there was no sadness.

"There is always a fresh group of kids coming through and attachment is important but it's nice to see them go and that is an exciting time. It's like watching your own kids grow up, you are happy they are moving on to new things."

It is the first time that deputy principal of the year has been a category in the education awards and Mr Nail said he was glad the role had been recognised.

"I feel very blessed to work at the college with such a wonderful staff and that it is their support that has allowed me to do what I do. I appreciate the work of the administration and leadership team and everyone who has supported me professionally."