TIM Moes is master of all he surveys at 137-143 Abel Smith Parade, Pioneer.
It is from here that he conducts his daily business as educationist and principal of Mount Isa School of the Air.
It is also from this sprawling address that he and his dedicated staff take learning to Australia’s isolated children in spite of scary logistics and daunting distances.
Schools of distance education seek to reduce isolation by drawing scattered individuals into a school unit.
Many children, on completing their correspondence education, enter the next stage of education better prepared to undertake independent studies.
SOTA Mount Isa has 170 students, 21 teachers and eight ancillary staff.
Prep teacher Rachel Tutauha hails from New Zealand.
She developed a wonderful rapport with the students and manages to paint, cook and play with her kids even though they are separated by hundreds of kilometres.
In a world where most people are forever clamouring for money, Mr Moes – stunningly – is not campaigning for more.
“Money doesn’t always fix problems; it doesn’t always fulfil dreams,” he says in his office.
So if money, with its timeless and unenviable history of turning on itself is not the big deal, what is?
“Education for isolated Australian children is paramount for us. That philosophy is tacit in this building. It doesn’t need any reiteration,” Mr Moes said.
The school is fully funded by Education Queensland and subjects offered include languages, science, mathematics, music, the humanities and health and phys ed.
Student Dylan Fletcher is going all the way to year 10, showcasing the school’s ability to deliver to the maximum.
But it’s not all work and no play.
School camps are held for children for years 4 to 10; years 4-5 are offered an environmental camp, year 6s attend a leadership camp, year 7s attend camp in Canberra, years 8-10 take part in an orientation camp and vocational camp.
Highlight of the year is the annual sports day at Mount Isa’s Kruttschnitt Park, which attracts more than 170 children from the 800,000 square kilometre catchment area.
Usually, there is a barbecue put on by the the Rotary Club of Mount Isa.
The club also hosts a Christmas barbecue.
Question time without notice
How does Tim Moes see himself; is he more principal or more headmaster?
A quiet smile. The distinction is obvious to him.
“I am more principal, I think. I don’t have to be headmaster; I have high quality, dedicated staff who know what we are about and they’re on top of their game just as I have to be on top of mine.”
Are you on top of your game?
“I’ll have to let my record answer that.”
For the record, Mr Moes has been at the helm of SOTA Mount Isa since 1990, making him the longest-serving principal of the school, whose initial history dates back to 1960 when it was founded at Cloncurry as Queensland’s first School of the Air.
Longevity doesn’t always equate with great achievement, how do you rate?
“I don’t have a greatest achievement as I’m just one person in our school community but I’d like to think that collectively we have created a school community that provides well for the education of our children. I am proud that through the good times and bad, the droughts and flooding rains and through the tyranny of distance we have created a wonderful school community; that is the greatest achievement of this school. We are indeed a school of families not students.
“I think our garden is great; the concept was to create a green environment to counteract the harsh reality of the outback in which our families live.”
The school is also a big hit with visitors from throughout the country and Mount Isa who soon discover the art of true communication isn’t lost to the world yet.
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