Former principal remembered for his contribution

Former Xavier College principal Lynn Martin died on May 14, after battling an illness.
Former Xavier College principal Lynn Martin died on May 14, after battling an illness.

At the end of 2019, Lynn Martin retired as Principal of Xavier College due to ill health and sadly passed away on Thursday, May 14, at home surrounded by his loved ones.

This brought an end to 16 stellar years of leadership at Xavier, as well as 43 years working in Catholic Education SA. Lynn taught at St Michael's College and Mercedes College as well as holding senior leadership positions at Blackfriars Priory School and Gleeson College.

For the past 16 years, Lynn led the transformation of Xavier College into a true community, firmly rooted in its Catholic and Salesian traditions and charism.

Lynn had a strong sense of community and while he will be remembered for many things, it will be his commitment to helping to define what it means to be a member of the Xavier College Community that he will be celebrated and remembered for the most.

Within weeks of assuming the principalship of Xavier College, Lynn was faced with a community trying to come to terms with the passing of his predecessor Fr Dennis Handley due to ill health.

For someone who was very new, he showed great leadership during this time. He was able to lead with great compassion and understanding of what they were going through, while at the same time ensure that the College continued to operate the best it could given the circumstances.

Very few leaders would be placed under that level of pressure and scrutiny so early in their tenure. The way in which Lynn went about making sure senior staff, which had worked so closely with Fr Handley, staff, students, parents and old scholars were supported and listened to was amazing for someone who had only been at the College for a matter of weeks.

It was a true testament to his personal character and his ability to read the needs of a community and then act accordingly. This was all done in his quiet, unassuming and unpretentious manner, something we would all come to know and love about him as the years went on.

Through his genuine concern for Xavier, Lynn was able to show quickly to those around him that he was the right person for the school. His actions at this time were to define his principalship for the next 16 years. Under Lynn's guidance, as he would always insist the leadership of the College was a team effort, Xavier grew beyond any of the dreams of those who originally were involved with the establishment of the school.

In fact, he often appeared uncomfortable when being singled out for the achievements of the College, as he saw them as them a reflection of team work not the work of one individual.

He was however always very proud of the achievements of his staff and always made sure that their achievements were truly recognised. During his time at Xavier there would be an increase in enrolments from around 600 to just under 1,000 students this year, with the introduction of Year 7 and a major reorganization of how the curriculum would be delivered to create a nationally recognised Middle school structure.

There has also been an increase in the numbers of student completing their SACE with 100% completion now the standard.

Lynn has also passionately overseen numerous major building projects including: Science Learning Centre - 2009 (BER Commonwealth grant), Trade Training Centre - 2012 (TTC Commonwealth Grant), the Xavier College Chapel - 2013, Scope 1 - Mawson Discovery Base (2015), Scope 2 - Sir Doug Nicholls Gymnasium, St Mary MacKillop Student Hub and Plaza and Scope 3 - Dame Roma Mitchell Staff Centre and Colonel George Gawler Auditorium (2019).

He dreams will be continued with the Bosco Lawn redevelopment (2020) and any future new developments. Even though dealing with his illness, he had been part of the team working on the new Xavier College - Two Wells R-6 Campus due to be opened in 2021.

One of his most cherished achievements was the firm placement of the Salesian charism within the Xavier College Community. While the seeds of the charism had been established by his predecessor, it was Lynn's passion for the work of St John Bosco and the Salesian way of doing things, that would see the development of a strong House and Oratory (House) system.

This would support not only the academic, but also pastorals needs, of both students and staff in line with the Salesian charism which has its core - reason, religion and loving kindness.

While embellishing the Salesian Charter, Lynn and those he inspired around him, strived to make Xavier a community that is welcoming, prepares for life, is faith centred and where all can come and enjoy their time with each other.

The community values of Respect, Understanding, Affection and Humour, or RUAH as it known amongst community members, were also introduced during Lynn's time as principal. This showed a further commitment to the Salesian charism and the belief of St John Bosco that all that attend a Salesian institution strive to be "Good Christians and Honest Citizens".

Lynn unashamedly made it clear to all that this was his wish for all those that have been a part of the Xavier College Community. He has been a passionate and strong advocate for every student that has entered the site at Xavier and lived and breathed the Catholic and Salesian way.

His ability to build supportive and authentic relationships with people from all aspects of life and his unwavering desire for the staff to do the same with students has been a huge focus of his time at Xavier.

This has resulted in students feeling valued and therefore able to learn well and succeed in their chosen pursuits. It is testament to Lynn, that at an outing to a restaurant in the Barossa late last year, a gift from the Community at Xavier, one of the main highlight's for him at the conclusion of the evening, was not the food, or the setting (whilst both were exceptional), but the fact that two Old Scholars cooked his amazing meal for him and his wife and he was ecstatic at their success in their chosen field.

One of the student leaders at Xavier had this to say about him, "Mr Martin is so passionate and dedicated to supporting the education of Xavier students and creates a real sense of community between staff and students. He is one of the most inspirational people I have met."

Lynn has had a strong sense of community and has been an active and involved member of the local community during his role.

He has been a charismatic leader and a "man of the people" and has been determined to see Xavier College develop into a school that truly cares for the people within it, and the community in which it lies.

He has not only inspired a generation but has been a truly exceptional and inspirational leader of our community