Geoff Block PSM

Geoff Block

Geoff has received a Public Service Medal for his contribution to education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

After completing high school in 1970, Geoff went on to RMIT to study Civil Engineering but realised quite quickly this was not for him. In 1972 he was given a studentship with the Department of Education and shifted to La Trobe Uni where he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Graduate Diploma in Education. Geoff began his teaching career at Maryvale High School in Morwell in 1977. A short stint in Melbourne in 1983 convinced Geoff that the Latrobe Valley was where he wanted to be, so back to Maryvale High in 1984.

In 1987 Maryvale High became part of Kurnai College along with Morwell High, Morwell Technical School and Churchill Post Primary. Since then Geoff has seen many changes. Maryvale became the Years 11 and 12 campus of Kurnai, Morwell Tech closed and Morwell High became the Morwell junior campus. In 2003 Kurnai College, Monash University Gippsland, TAFE and Gippsland Group Training signed an agreement to form the Gippsland Education Precinct (GEP). The GEP Campus, on the grounds of the university in Churchill, opened in 2006 for senior Kurnai students and Maryvale became the Morwell junior campus of Kurnai. Morwell High was demolished and is now the site of Morwell Central Primary School. The GEP Campus became the University Campus in 2015.

Geoff taught across all Kurnai campuses. In 2004 he became Campus Principal at Churchill junior campus, then worked as a Campus Principal in Morwell and, in 2013, was appointed Campus Principal of the senior campus at Churchill where he has stayed.

During his time within these campuses, Geoff, along with other staff, has developed new projects.

One was working with Latrobe City Council on their Sister City project in Taizhou, expanding it to include programs to embrace international students coming to study here. Initially Geoff, with other teachers from Latrobe City schools, went to Taizhou and taught in schools there. Then Taizhou students with their teachers visited Latrobe City schools. The international student program at Kurnai College remains, although student enrolments have fallen because of COVID restrictions. Geoff feels it will, in time, reach pre COVID numbers.

Another initiative was working with other Latrobe City schools, TAFE and Gippsland Group Training to implement VET (Vocational Education and Training) courses available for students during their senior years of secondary schooling. This allowed students to pursue their skills and interests in a different pathway.

Although pleased to receive the Public Service Medal in recognition of his dedication and efforts, Geoff feels the work he did has been done with many people who have brought about the tremendous changes and advances made at Kurnai College. He feels his award should be a recognition of the group’s achievements.

Geoff has received many positive accolades since the announcement of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Geoff has really enjoyed his time and loves working with a range of teachers and students saying he has been lucky to work with so many dedicated, smart people. COVID has been so hard, but teachers have worked together to teach during lockdowns and students made the most of their opportunities. It has been inspiring to see. “I wonder what I will do when I retire,” he mused.

Expressions of gratitude and thanks are given to Kurnai, families who send their children to Kurnai, and the students who study at Kurnai. Special mention was made of his partner Julie Garden, who supported him through the years and fellow principal Nello Carbone. He also acknowledged that he has been lucky to work with College Principals; Jack Howe, Margaret Corcoran and Anthony Rodaughan, who have always been supportive of his ideas.

Well done Geoff.