NEW ERA: Incoming St Edmund's College principal Diarmuid O'Riordon (left) receives the keys to the school from outgoing principal Chris Leadbetter.
NEW ERA: Incoming St Edmund's College principal Diarmuid O'Riordon (left) receives the keys to the school from outgoing principal Chris Leadbetter. Rob Williams

St Edmund's bids goodbye to principal of three years

THE end of school year will also mark the end of an era for St Edmund's College when Principal Chris Leadbetter makes his final address to the students as headmaster.

Yet while the students say goodbye to a familiar face, they will welcome back another who is no stranger to Ipswich with former St Peter Claver College Principal Diarmuid O'Riordan stepping into his shoes.

After three years Mr Leadbetter has taken a new job as the Principal at St Lawrence's College, South Brisbane starting in January - a rare job offer he couldn't pass up.

It will be an emotional farewell for Mr Leadbetter, a man who managed to return to the school where he was once a student himself, even becoming the boss of a few teachers he took lessons from years ago.

Mr Leadbetter confessed although it had been three years, he wasn't entirely ready to leave the school he loved so much and with which felt such a personal connection.

"It was a real honour to come back to St Edmund's and lead a school where my family was still involved," Mr Leadbetter said.

"It has been nostalgic. When I was a student the principal was Brother Ted Magee; he knew every student and every family, and made brave, strong decisions for the school.

"St Edmund's was the first Christian Brother's school in Queensland to outlaw corporal punishment at a time when that was uncommon.

"Brother Magee made that decision based on his ethics and morals and I really looked up to him.

"He was the reason I got into education and he actually gave me my first teaching job in Bundaberg.

"St Edmund's is one of those schools that takes over your life a little, but you never feel resentful for that.

"There are students here with parents that I went to school with and I will miss that connection to the local community and the local history."

For his replacement Diarmuid O'Riordan the new post will be a bit of trip down memory lane too.

Since finishing up at St Peter Claver College in 2014, after seven years in the position, Mr O'Riordan took a job working with the Cairns Catholic Education Services. Now he's looking forward to getting back to a hands on role.

"I'm looking forward to working with staff, the parents, and doing everything I can to meet educational needs of the boys of Ipswich," Mr O'Riordan said.

"I do feel a bit of a personal connection with the school too given its founder, Edmund Rice, was an Irishman; just like me."

Mr O'Riordan expects to be settled in Ipswich before Christmas.



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