Rijk Batley has travelled wide and far as a teacher, having worked in South Africa and New Zealand, been chased by hippos in Botswana, and paddled the Avon Descent almost a dozen times. Arriving in Western Australia in 2006, Rijk started his time at Kennedy Baptist College with forerunner school Somerville Baptist College. As a Humanities teacher, Rijk has helped to establish Kennedy as the leading co-educational secondary Christian school in Perth’s south and will be a fondly missed member of our community when he retires at the end of 2023.
He knows that he will also miss Kennedy too, along with his classroom and students, and his passion for the school and teaching is still outstanding. Even after twenty-eight years in this vocation, Rijk hasn’t forgotten his love for knowledge and his enjoyment at helping others discover and learn. Kennedy has allowed him the space to fulfil this role, to make a direct difference in people’s lives and create a long-lasting impact on their character.
Teaching is not always easy but even on the difficult days, Rijk has found himself feeding off the energy of the students. He also has learnt resilience from his students, finding that attitude and effort will always defeat ability. Still, the lesson that he has continually recognised is that teaching is the most rewarding occupation anyone can have. “The most important thing,” he says, “is the kids”.
Rijk knows that this sentiment is held by the College staff around him and he insists that the staff at Kennedy Baptist College are committed to their task, to their teaching and to their development of students with good character. Our staff come from a broad range of backgrounds, with multiculturalism and different life perspectives at the fore. Having developed great relationships over many years, many of these staff will be counted as lifelong friends for Rijk.
It is with these colleagues that Rijk has seen Kennedy Baptist College emerge as a school of choice for many teachers. He has been astounded at the growth of the school since its establishment in 2013, with the construction of leading facilities such as the Sports Centre and the Research and Study Centre (RASC), as well as the expansion of support in the IT Department. The latter two have been crucial, with the RASC offering learning support to students, enabling them to perform better in the classroom, and the IT Department helping with the introduction of new technologies in the classroom.
Yet the stand out factors, and reasons why Rijk has worked at Kennedy for so long, are his love of the Kennedy ethos and the formation of a strong community, backed by a great Pastoral Care program. Rijk has found ways to contribute to this community as a Head of Year and as a Form Teacher, and as a Humanities teacher has also loved to imbue his pedagogy with the building of relationships.
When asked about why he has chosen to teach Humanities, Rijk admits that his love of Geography, in particular, stems from his enjoyment of God’s creation and the interaction between people and the environment. “Geography,” says Rijk, “is logical and there is a pattern one can follow”. He loves to invite students to see the world through Christian eyes, showing the pattern of creation in his teaching and holding firm to the belief that faith can only increase with knowledge of the world and its wonderful design.
Rijk will continue to experience this design as he sets out on more travels across the globe, starting with his entrance into the World Masters Sailing Championships in Adelaide next year. While there are exciting times like this ahead, it has been difficult for Rijk to retire from this job and leave this place that has helped him to make a difference in the lives of others. Packing up his classroom has lead to many moments of reflection, whether it has been from finding a note from a parent from the early years of Kennedy tucked away, or setting aside the textbooks for the next teacher to pick up and use.
As he leaves his role as a teacher at Kennedy Baptist College, Rijk has one last lesson for his students, a pearl of advice that teachers may also hold onto: “Never stop learning”.
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