As long-time head of St Michael’s Grammar, Simon Gipson has cemented the school’s reputation for innovation in learning. Now, the newly built Gipson Commons continues its namesake’s entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit.
By Eileen Ormsby
When the head of St Michael’s Grammar found himself rapping student-written lyrics to a Grandmaster Flash backing track, he had only himself to blame. After all, he’s the one who impresses upon his pupils the importance of taking risks and operating outside their comfort zone.
“Entrepreneurial behaviours stem from understanding creativity, understanding innovation,” Simon Gipson says, “but, most importantly, understanding the value of taking risks, being able to step out and beyond from where you are comfortable and being prepared to fail from time to time.”
When you create an environment that aims to foster this entrepreneurial spirit, you have to be prepared to lead by example. So when the students approached him with an idea to promote their annual Merry Month of May charity drive, Gipson could hardly object.
The YouTube generation’s buzzword is ‘viral’ and 2015’s school leaders thought a video of the head of a prestigious school rapping may just fit the bill. Year 12 students put together a production team and wrote their own storyline and lyrics designed to raise awareness for the selected charities.
The result was a professional, and very amusing, music video. Other teachers and staff – including Terry the crossing supervisor – had cameos, but Gipson was the star. And it did better than just go viral.
“The kids ended up on Sunrise, chatting with Kochie about what they’d done,” says Gipson, clearly proud of their efforts, which raised a significant amount of money.
“What they learned was that if you’re prepared to take a bit of a stretch, be entrepreneurial and employ all your combined skills, you can do things that genuinely make a difference.”