There’s something special about an organisation where the CEO is not only passionate about their job but is also “homegrown”. Debra Twartz has been a part of the Northern Territory Christian School family since she was in Grade One, attending Marrara Christian School in 1979 (the first year the school began operating).
Her familiarity with all things ‘school’ found their beginnings in assisting her Mum set up the classroom where she was a teacher in Kalkaringi, a remote community located south west of Katherine. Debra attended Marrara Christian School intermittently until her middle school years when it became possible for her to board in Darwin on a full-time basis during the school term. The current Family Group Home Program for remote indigenous students was established with the same concept in mind.
For as long as she can remember, Debra wanted to be a teacher. This was further nurtured throughout her school years at Marrara. Here at school, she developed a true sense of her value, identity and security. Her teachers were always committed, supportive and, most of all, they “walked the talk.” They had a love for God and they lived it out. This has had a lasting impact on Debra’s own calling to the vision and mission of NT Christian Schools.
After completing Year 12, Debra went on to complete her teaching qualifications and, afterwards, she had the opportunity to work at Marrara Christian School as a Teacher’s Aide. This was followed by a season as a Special Education Teacher within the Catholic Education sector, before she worked as an Early Childhood teacher at Sattler Christian College.
During her time as a teacher at Sattler, Debra met with world-renowned Christian educator John van Dyke. Debra recalls the two hours she spent with John, going over her teaching programme, as “phenomenal”. It provided Debra with a rich learning experience that allowed her to develop a programme from a biblical perspective that was both academic and faith filled.
Professional development has and continues to be of great value to Debra’s ongoing calling to be faithful to the vision of the founding group of Christian parents. They desired an education for their children based on the biblical direction to “train up children in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6). Also playing a vital role in the development of her thinking has been the International Transforming Education Conference, the local Over the Top Conference and the opportunity to study for a Masters of Education with the National Institute for Christian Education.
Seasons serving on the Board of NT Christian Schools, a period as the Principal of Sattler Christian College, and various roles in the NT Christian Schools system office greatly equipped Debra for her appointment last year as CEO of NT Christian Schools.
Serving the NT’s future
Debra shares that, at times, it would have been more straightforward to return to the classroom. But the more personally challenging and less clearly defined role in administrative leadership has proved to be her “narrow path” to follow. She clearly felt the Lord laying a burden on her heart to serve the family of NT Christian Schools as a whole.
Even on the most challenging days, there is no doubt in Debra’s mind that she is where God has called her to be.
“I want Christian schools to be known as places where truth is taught and experienced.” – Debra Twartz
“Ultimately, I want to be a faithful servant; to protect and preserve but also to build and perpetuate the vision of NT Christian Schools – To be Christian communities, learning together to live life as God intended, offering hope for the world – for future generations,” Debra says. “I want Christian schools to be known as places where truth is taught and experienced.”
NT Christian Schools Director of Education John Metcalfe adds: “Even when she was acting CEO, I watched Debra slump under the weight of particular issues, then breathe in deeply and let God take the load. She knows and models that the Lord only requires us to be faithful and let him fight the battles and straighten the road.”
As Jesus reminds us, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
If you would like to know more about NT Christian Schools or are interested in being a part of the story of Christian education in the Northern Territory, please visit our site.