Chris Tudor has spent 30 years transforming an Alice Springs school from a hostel into a world-class day and boarding school.

Story by Kerry Sharp

The council members of central Australia’s St Philip’s College were elated after grilling Chris Tudor for two-and-a-half hours about the principal’s position in 1985. The dynamic young Victorian teacher had the energy and attributes to fulfil their grand vision. But he turned down the job.
“We were horrified,” college life governor and former council chairperson, Jan Heaslip says. “We’d unanimously agreed that Chris and his wife Jill were perfect for our school. Chris had all the leadership qualities we needed to develop St Philip’s from a boarding hostel to an educational college of the highest standard. So we immediately booked them on an Alice Springs flight to show them what a wonderful opportunity awaited them – and this time they accepted.”
The popular headmaster, who retired in June this year after 30 years with St Philip’s, chuckles about Jan’s follow-up phone call. “In that typical up-front outback manner, she came straight out with, ‘Christopher, what’s this nonsense about you withdrawing your application?’ So, after 60 hours spent deciding to say ‘no’, for every apparent good reason, we took five minutes to backtrack and say ‘yes’!”
Jan says the college forged ahead “at a great rate of knots” after Chris took the helm in 1986. “It makes fabulous reading to go back through the history to see the incredible, sometimes unorthodox way in which Chris has built St Philip’s into the fine school it is today,” she says.  

This story excerpt is from Issue #108

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2016