Katoomba principal Mark Geerligs retires from St Canice’s Primary

St Canice’s Primary School principal Mark Geerligs with school captains Emma Garraway and Joe Zammit. Mr Geerligs will retire after decades in teaching.
Picture: Carmela Roche

Following a memorable career in teaching, Katoomba principal Mark Geerligs has retired. 

Last year marked the St Canice’s Primary School principal’s 39th year in teaching.

Starting in the 1970s, Mr Geerligs pursued teaching following high school.

He went on to become a principal at 27 before joining the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.

“I came straight out of high school,” Mr Geerligs said.

“I graduated in 1977 and then went straight into the Catholic Teachers’ College. In 2014, I moved up to Katoomba as the principal at St Canice’s and (2019) marks my sixth year here.

“That’s a total of 33 years as a principal.”

Mr Geerligs detailed the positive impacts that teaching brought to his life.

“It gives you great joy,” he said.

“The times I really love, and I know I’ll miss, is in the morning at assembly time saying ‘good morning everyone’ and them saying, ‘good morning Mr Geerligs’.

“I find that a real buzz.

“Dealing with the kids, talking with the kids, that’s where I get my energy from; they’re fantastic.”

With a focus on community, Geerligs has worked to expand the school during his time as principal.

“It’s a fantastic small school, it’s a real community school,” he said.

“We’re in the middle, in the heart of Katoomba, many people don’t know we’re here because we’re behind the church and shops and so forth, but it’s a little oasis in the heart of Katoomba.

“Over the last six years I’ve really tried to push the school into doing a lot more community things.”

Mr Geerligs shared a parting message to students, parents and staff he’s come across throughout his career.

“It’s always been a pleasure to be the principal of these schools,” he said.

“The message I’ve been trying to give to people is to enjoy school and to try your best.

“You don’t have to be number one, you don’t have to be number two, you don’t even have to be on the podium of any sort, but what I’d like people to do is to try their best.

“Have a go, try their best and enjoy things, because if you don’t give it a try, you’ll never know what you can do.”