We've been very busy lately and, therefore, have not been able to tell everyone the news of our move. So, I'll try explain how this all has come about.

About 3 weeks ago, I received an offer to teach at Living Waters Lutheran College – Rockingham, Western Australia. Over Thanksgiving weekend we made the decision to accept the offer.
 
The school’s basic info:
 
  • http://www.livingwaters.wa.edu.au/
  • Warnbro campus (PS-12, 1200 students)
  • Halls Head campus (PS-7, 150 students)
  • The school and the supporting church on its campus are only 10 years old.
Over the last nearly 2 years, I’ve been gradually expanding the circle of my search for a position in Lutheran education that would allow me to focus on teaching with technology and coaching teachers on using technology in the classroom. The circle at first widened beyond the Midwest, and then went beyond. By last spring, the search began to include Australia and its nearly 100 Lutheran schools. The Lutheran schools down under have been in a period of growth and expansion in recent times resulting in a desperate need for “Lutheran” teachers. Also, because of the growth, their schools in many cases are much larger than our LCMS schools allowing them to add specialists to their staff.

Living Waters was the first Australian Lutheran school I contacted at the end of April. They were offering only a temporary position (from May to December), but I thought I might as well plant a seed by applying and starting up a conversation. I had a very positive response then, but with it only being a temporary position, I knew it would not be a position to seriously pursue.

I then applied with 4 other Australian schools in late summer and into the fall. I did not make the short list in any of those cases and had very little communication from them. With their school year beginning around the end of January, when it got to be well into October Lanette and I acknowledged that the window was pretty much closed for this coming school year and we were o.k. with that.

Within a week, Living Waters posted this vacancy. I noted the two-week period for applying and put the preparation of an application at the bottom of my to-do list. I finally got around to completing it and sending it in around Nov. 4th. They rather quickly replied that they wanted a phone interview, and so on Nov. 8th I had a one-hour phone conversation with the principal and deputy principal. A few days later they offered me the position.

The position is titled “Information Technology Teacher (Years 1-8)”. It seems to be much like the portion of my position at St. Peter’s in which I taught with technology and worked with the classroom teachers. However, it’s different in that that’s about the extent of the position. At St. Peter’s, I was also teaching 2 history classes, 2 science classes, an art class, etc. and was responsible for maintaining computers, the network, managing web and email services, etc. Living Waters has two IT support people on staff, so I will not be responsible for the maintenance of computers or the network.

They have asked if I would also consider teaching a Christian Studies class in their high school because they have so few teachers qualified to teach a religion class at that level. That is something I’ve told them I’d definitely be open to.

The word “collaboration” came up repeatedly during the phone interview. The clear expectation is that this position will work closely with classroom teachers to develop and promote the use of technology across the curriculum. They follow a state curriculum for “Technology and Enterprise” which has an interesting scope that goes well beyond computers to include the study of problem solving and the choice of technologies, materials, and processes. The possibilities are rather exciting to me.

The principal said that nearly all of the Lutheran students in the school are kids of staff members. About 30-40% of the students are from church-going families. The remaining half of the school is made up of non-Christians (or at most, nominal). About 30% of the teachers are Lutheran.

The position will be at the Warnbro campus, although there is also a desire for this person to provide some direction for the newer campus at Halls Head which is about 18 miles south. Warnbro is a neighborhood within the city of Rockingham which is 30 miles south of downtown Perth (see the yellow arrow on the map below). Perth is the capital of the state of Western Australia and has a population of 1.5 million. The next closest metropolitan area is Adelaide, South Australia, which is about 1,500 miles away making Perth, according to some, the most remote city in the world (depends on how you define “city” but you get the point). Historically, Rockingham has been a seaside resort community for those living in the big city of Perth. However, with the current economic boom in Western Australia driven by the mining of gold, diamonds, iron ore, etc., Rockingham is becoming a bedroom community to Perth.
 
 
WA Map
 

The school is 10 years old. The Warnbro campus is the large complex of buildings bottom center in the photo below. The house we'll be renting at least temporarily is marked as "Schumacher's house" near the center top in the photo. The Indian Ocean is in view on the left - a 10-minute walk to the beach for our kids who have never been to an ocean! The climate is considered "Mediterranean" with hot and dry summers and mild winters (50s for lows).
 

Aerial

 
 
 
House
 
DSCF5973
 
The school year for them begins February 4 and runs through the beginning of December. It's much more like "year-around" schools in the U.S. They have 4 ten-week terms separated by two-week breaks and about 6 weeks between school years. I've been told that those breaks will be nearly all vacation time for me.

Lutheran Education Australia, which oversees the schools down under, has offered us some funds to put toward the relocation costs (covering about a third of the cost) in exchange for a 3-year commitment to be over there.

We are scrambling to make the move happen in a short amount of time. They have staff orientation beginning on January 25th, but they have said they'll take me even if I'm late for the beginning of the school year. However, we really would like to get the kids there for the first day of school on February 4th. So, we're aiming to leave around January 20th and hoping we can arrange for two-day layover in Sydney to visit Lanette's cousin who's lived there for nearly 20 years now. (Her wedding was the first family event I attended with Lanette when we were first dating.) But we're still working through passport and visa details, so no definite date is set for leaving.

Our house will go on the market on Thursday. So we've been working late into the evenings each night to prep the house and sort the clutter. It's the worst time of year to sell a house and the worst market in years for sellers. But we recently replaced the windows and painted the exterior, and with a few other factors figured in, our real estate agent is actually rather optimistic of a quick sale. We're praying for that.

So, we're obviously rather excited about the move. The kids are pretty positive about it even though it will be quite a transition for them (for example, we still don't know which grade they will move into after leaving here halfway through the year). Lanette will consider taking exams for a PT license over there, but may also just considering finding other work.

We'll try to keep you updated when possible. We realize we're going to need to get acquainted with using blogs and web audio & video conferencing in order to stay in touch with everyone, so we'll pass on these details later when we figure them out.