Honesty, respect, fairness and an endless dedication to volunteering and student welfare.
These are all qualities synonymous with Steve Parle, who has inspired generations of Rockhampton students, and rugby league stars, to succeed both in the classroom and on the football field.
They’re also behind Steve’s receiving an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Steve is a legend in Queensland rugby league circles and in Rockhampton, where he was a foundation teacher at The Cathedral College (TCC) and an assistant principal for about 20 years.
He was also the president of Queensland Secondary Schools Rugby League from 1994 to 2015.
After retiring from TCC in 2015, Steve took up a position with the Brisbane Broncos, where he continues to guide young people as a welfare and education officer.
His commitment to helping young people continues to inspire all those around him.
Affectionately known as “Parlie”, Steve said he was motivated to teach after coaching a rugby league team when he was 17 in the early 1970s.
His then under-13 team took out the Premiership and went on to win four years in a row, while Steve studied for a Diploma of Teaching.
“I had a wonderful (teaching) mentor in my early years who was crucial in my development; his name was John Miles,” Steve says.
“Throughout my teaching career I enjoyed working with young men and women in the secondary school context,” he says.
“I was always conscious that the students valued people if they were genuine and honest with them. Despite their protests, students really appreciated that there were boundaries and that these were constant.”
“My involvement in co-curricular sport, particularly in rugby league, meant that I established a positive relationship outside the classroom with some of the young men who were not always the easiest to teach.”
Even after 39 years of teaching I was so lucky that I enjoyed the day-to-day interaction with the students.
"In my role as Assistant Principal – Students, from 1995 to 2015, I dealt with many discipline issues and I nearly always found the students appreciated it if you were ‘firm but fair’ with them.”
“The Cathedral College Rockhampton was a wonderful school with a great culture and fantastic staff.”
While Steve mostly taught HPE, along with mathematics, he was also passionate about teaching Religious Education, which he continued to do as TCC’s assistant principal in charge of student welfare.
At a school award ceremony about the same time Steve left TCC, Rockhampton diocesan Catholic Education Director Leesa Jeffcoat* explained the effect Steve had on students.
“The legacy of Steve’s dedicated and loyal service to Catholic education, and to the noble profession of teaching, is successive generations of students who graduated from a Steve Parle classroom as good, decent, values-based, faith-centred people with a love of their God, a love of family, a desire to help others and a passion to live life in all its fullest,” Leesa said.
“Steve treated every student the same and in all his dealings with them they were treated with fairness and with their best interests always uppermost in mind,” she said.
“He never prejudged students and he was always prepared to give them not only just a second chance, but also a third and fourth chance.”
“In return the students would do anything for Mr Parle.”
Steve continues to inspire others with his work at the Broncos and even at Brisbane Brothers, where he coaches an under-6 rugby league team.
Thank you Steve for the outstanding difference you have made in so many lives and for your dedication to young people. It is wonderful to see your hard work and commitment acknowledged with an OAM.
*Leesa Jeffcoat’s quotes first appeared in The Catholic Leader article, ‘Coach to Broncos stars retires as high school teacher’ on January 20, 2016. You can read that full story here: http://catholicleader.com.au/people/coach-to-broncos-stars-retires-as-high-school-teacher.