Aussie with a special Irish ethos


Frank Clarke strolls around the inner sanctums of Clongowes Wood College, effortlessly explaining the history of oil portraits and hidden doors concealed as fake bookcases, like a star graduate of the school; someone who has been ingrained in its culture for decades, writes Sarah Meade in the Irish Catholic.

He is however, neither of these things. The tall gregarious Australian has only been a Clongowes staff member since 2006. His knowledge, commitment and loyalty for everything the Jesuit boarding school stands for, would easily lead one to believe otherwise.

Frank is the first person to hold the role of director of ethos in any school in Ireland or Britain.

Indeed, he was the only person to hold the role on these islands up until last year, when the Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick appointed their former headmaster to a similar post.

So, what exactly is a director of ethos? ''If you meet someone is a pub, it's always a tough one. What do you do for a few quid? You're the director of what??'' Frank laughs.

After leading me from the school's reception area, up a sweeping staircase and through a number of drawing rooms, we have settled at a long table flanked by leather backed chairs upstairs in Clongowes' main building.

''The soundbite I give people at a barbecue or whatever, is that I am responsible to the headmaster for the programmes and processes that make us a Jesuit school.''

The seeds for the director of ethos role in Clongowes were planted back in 2001, when the then Provincial of the Jesuits in Ireland wrote to their schools, basically telling them that it was no longer good enough to say they were a Jesuit school - they had to prove it.

At Clongowes, this led to the decision to appoint a person at senior management level to ensure the school was living up to its Jesuit commitments. In 2006, the school advertised internationally for a director of ethos. This is where Frank came in.

Born and bred in the Australian bush, Frank was living at the time with his Irish wife Sinead in Sydney, working as a religious education teacher at a Jesuit school. Having previously visited Clongowes with the school's rugby team, the job advertisement caught Frank's attention. He applied, and contrary to his expectations, he was offered the position.

FULL STORY Keeping them in the right direction (the Irish Catholic)

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