How Jill inspired a culture of excellence at St Peters Lutheran College

When Jill Lange-Mohr looks out from her office, her view is one of growth and potential.

Across the road, new community facilities are taking shape and there is land that will one day be part of Springfield’s IDEA City – a precinct centred around the power of ideas.

It is a fitting view given growth and the power of ideas have been constant themes during her tenure as founding principal of St Peters Lutheran College at Springfield Central.

Next month, that tenure will come to an end when Ms Lange-Mohr leaves Ipswich to pursue a new opportunity as head of college for two independent Lutheran schools in Victoria.

Ms Lange-Mohr said while leaving the school she helped build from the ground up would be tough, the time was right for a new challenge.

“It’s really the next step for me. It’s a similar role in the sense that it’s a leadership role but it’s more big picture, a little less hands on,” she said.

There is no understating just how hands on Ms Lange-Mohr has been while at St Peters.

From teaching several classes in the school’s early years to helping design the still expanding college campus on Wellness Way, hand-picking staff and enrolling every one of the school’s 560 students, Ms Lange-Mohr has done it all.

Jill Lange-Mohr looks out from her office.

She came to the role well regarded, having excelled as a senior administrator in the private tertiary education sector after starting her career as a high school teacher.

The Springfield school welcomed its first students in January 2008 and was the second campus for St Peters Lutheran College, which opened its first campus at Indooroopilly in 1945.

“It was a Queensland first for an independent school to open a second campus. It’s been done before in other states but at that time, it hadn’t been done in Queensland,” she said.

“There were a lot of naysayers in the beginning who said it wouldn’t work. What my time in the corporate sector taught me was the importance of standing on your own two feet.

“We run the school as a business and that’s important so that we can continue to provide the facilities and opportunities for our students.

“Every decision I make, I ask myself ‘how will this impact the students, how will this impact the staff, how will this impact our families’.”

The ability to combine business acumen with an unwavering passion for the school’s students, staff and families allowed Ms Lange-Mohr to instill a culture of excellence across the school.

“When students enrol at St Peters, there are two things that we expect of every one of them. The first one is that they promise to live by the school’s motto Plus Ultra, which means ever higher,” she said.

“The second one is that they agree to treat everyone with care, dignity and respect. I ask each student to agree and to shake my hand as a contract when they enrol.

“It’s my insurance policy. Every child deserves a safe learning environment. If they feel safe, loved and supported they will be in a position to do their best.

“If a student gets a bit off track, I’ll do a refresher handshake with them to remind them of the agreement we made and usually that’s enough to get them back on track. Last year I only had to do seven refresher handshakes.

“The idea that they have a contract with the school is a powerful one, not only for the student but also their parents who want to know their child is coming to a safe and supportive environment.”

Ms Lange-Mohr said while her role had been significant, the school’s successes would not have been possible without its staff.

“Having the best teachers is what makes the best school because they are having the greatest impact on the students each day,” she said.

“We’ve been extremely blessed to have some of the most wonderful teachers and excellent facilities.

“Of course, supporting the teachers is our administration staff and you can’t have a great school without having great administration staff working behind the scenes supporting you.”

Ms Lange-Mohr finishes up on 4 July.

“I’m very proud of the standing St Peters has in the community. I’m humbly proud because it’s made up of the most wonderful people who support each other,” she said.

“A part of my heart will always be here at St Peters at Springfield.”

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