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Dallas dreams of principal journey

​Ashwell State School Principal Dallas Schmidt returns to her alma mater for her special day

Could it be that sick Little Bear was the turning point? Or was it simply fate?

When a young Dallas Schmidt enrolled at Ashwell State School as a Year 6 student she couldn't have known that it would eventually become the venue for her special wedding day, and that she’d return two decades later as principal.

In 2000 Dallas and her family moved from the Brisbane suburb of Coopers Plains to Ashwell—a suburb outside Ipswich with roughly 100 residents. And while some could find the tree change a shock, it suited young Dallas perfectly.

'Ashwell was the first experience I had in a small school setting and it was an environment I thrived in,' Dallas said.

The combination of an inspiring Ashwell teacher, Michael Josey, and 'genetics', made a career in education somewhat destined for Dallas.

'I suppose teaching was a bit of a "meant to be" for me. My grandfather was a teacher and headmaster in New Zealand, and my aunt, uncle and cousin are all teachers. Since I can remember I have had a passion for teaching. I always dreamed of doing Mr Josey's job and small schools have become a place I gravitate back to.'

Dallas' teaching career took her throughout Queensland—but there always seemed to be that gravitational pull to return to Ashwell.

So, when it came to deciding on where to get married, the modest, intimate surrounds of her three-classroom alma mater was the logical choice.

'Ashwell is a special place to me that triggered my lifelong passion for small schools and education so the school seemed the perfect location.'

And fate—or destiny—would enter yet again: the vacant position of principal at Ashwell State School.

Dallas said she was delighted to have the opportunity to work at the school that initiated her love of small schools, which brings us to the story of Little Bear.

'When I was a student at Ashwell my dog was bitten by a snake and became paralysed and bedridden. I was feeding him and giving him water by hand every hour or so,' she said.

'When mum called Mr Josey to let him know I was going to be absent from school for that reason, he drove to our home, helped mum load our dog, who weighed about 40kgs, into the car and headed back to school.

'My dog then spent the day in Mr Josey's office so I could be at school, where I could pop out of class to feed and give him water. Mr Josey thought it was quite funny that every time he went into his own office he was getting growled at!

'My dog, Little Bear, did make a full recovery and managed to live until I was about 19.

'Mr Josey showed a commitment and dedication to my education that I have taken on and am now sharing with other staff and schools, as every child has the right to be at school and learning, every day.

'I am thrilled to now be in a position, as principal, to continue this legacy. The first morning of school, pulling out of the driveway, a rainbow appeared over Ashwell. I think it was a great sign,' she said.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
09 March 2020