WA Parliamentarian drops into ECC to track the progress of Rail Project and STEM students!

Yesterday (Thursday 24 November 2022) was a special day for a select group of Year 9 students at Ellenbrook Christian College (ECC) who welcomed the Honourable Mrs Rita Saffioti MLA to their campus along with Mr Nigel Hunt (Principal Project Director Major Projects for the Public Transport Authority).

Mrs Saffioti has many positions within the McGowan Government (including her role as the Minister for Transport and Planning, which brought her to ECC today), but she made it clear to the gathered crowd of twenty Year 9 girls (the select group chosen to be a part of MELConnx’s STEM initiative) and a number of MELConnx workers that the Ellenbrook rail project was a project ‘close to her heart’ – and one that she was very keen to observe in the weeks and months ahead.

After being welcomed by SCEA’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Graeme Cross, Mrs Saffioti addressed the students about her role as minister and the great work that is being done by school and private industry in the Western Australian community to create connections across our suburbs. Mrs Saffioti was joined by College Principal Mr Mike Pitman, who facilitated a Question & Answer session with the Minister. Questions were asked about Mrs Saffioti’s background and her decision to study economics and university, her favourite construction project during her tenure and her reasons for being a politician.

“Fundamentally, you want to be in a job that helps people,” said Mrs Saffioti.

She cited recent letters that she had received from well-wishers about the Airport train line and the positives and negatives of social media posters who may say good or bad things about what you do each day.

“In the end, I say this to my staff, you have to ask: ‘Who is it who is speaking?’ Some people are not willing to identify themselves, only say negative things, and those are the types of opinions that don’t need to be interacted with.”

The Minister also took time to visit the new Mechatronics studio with the Principal and the construction site, which is taking shape adjacent to the school gymnasium. More visits are scheduled for 2023, once the underpass has been completed and the train line begins to take shape for the ECC community.

WA Politicians descend on ECC to commence MetroNET project

Yesterday was a wonderful day for Ellenbrook Christian College (ECC), with Principal Mr Mike Pitman welcoming Western Australian Premier Mr Mark McGowan MLA, State Minister for Transport Ms Rita Saffiotti MLA and Ms Jessica Shaw MLA to the Santona Boulevard campus to officially open the Morley-Ellenbrook MetroNET Line.

Student leaders and the gathered politicians lined up to take part in the ceremonial Rail Line Celebration and learn more about the collaboration process that has taken place between SCEA and the WA State Government throughout the project.

Public Transport Authority (PTA) Principal Project Director Major Projects, Mr Nigel Hunt, spoke to the junior students of ECC early in the day saying that ‘the foundations have been laid for something very special that will serve you for many years. That’s essentially what this school seeks to do also – lay a solid foundation for your life for years to come.’

Positive remarks were echoed by both ECC Principal Mr Mike Pitman and SCEA Chief Executive Officer Dr Graeme Cross as they spoke of the excellent work, communication and relationship-building that has taken place over recent years to reach this project milestone.

The day was a joint MetroNET/Ellenbrook Christian College project, designed not only to celebrate the commencement of the construction works, but also to help the College community to visualise the impact of the train line and the construction process slated to last up to two years.

The students enjoyed a ride on a mini-train, posed for photos in the train-themed ‘selfie’ booth and took part in a scavenger hunt that aimed to educate and stimulate learning around the new train line.

The new Morley-Ellenbrook Line is set to connect Ellenbrook to the rest of Perth via train with ECC already receiving phone calls from potential parents who live close to the proposed train line heading south.   

A new pedestrian underpass will allow safe access for students and staff between the College buildings and the oval, with a sports pavilion to be built in the coming months to further aid students and staff on the sporting fields.

The 21-kilometre long Morley-Ellenbrook Line will provide a 30-minute ride to the CBD from Ellenbrook, with five stations being built at a cost of approximately $1.1 billion dollars. 

A short media report from Channel 7’s 6pm News last night can be found here: https://vimeo.com/759863938

Staff Profile: Ellenbrook’s Sporty Evangelist

A recent audit in our TASS software revealed that approximately 20% of families across SCEA attend church on a regular basis. Using that metric, we could surmise that 80% of students that populate our SCEA classrooms, sporting halls and canteens each day are from homes that do not attend church or hold to Christian religious faith.

How does a young Christian teacher let his students know about Christ in his Physical Education and Christian Living classes at Ellenbrook Christian College (ECC)?

Introducing Mr Lewis McKerney – a young man that grew up with the gospel and has a heart to see young people come to know Jesus.

“Christian Living is a balance: you don’t want kids to like Jesus solely because they had just had fun in class, but you also don’t want pure boredom due to me droning on with talking and listening to me lecturing all the time. I have to show the gospel and what it is – but do it in a way that uses methods that the students can understand. You can’t change the gospel, but you can present it in an engaging, relevant and intentional way.”  

Lewis’ father runs the Christian Union at Murdoch University, and his mother is a teacher, so gospel teaching seems to run in the family for the McKerney’s.

A degree in Sports Science followed by a Master’s degree in Education prepared Lewis for life in the classroom, and he managed to fit courtship, marriage and leading numerous Bible study groups into his time at university! The early completion of his Masters’s degree allowed Lewis the opportunity to begin teaching at Swan Christian College in mid-2019, and it began in quite a flurry of activity:

“I got married, finished my last assignment, the next Monday started work, and graduated a few weeks later!” says Lewis in the gymnasium at ECC as students shoot basketball shots at recess on a Tuesday morning.

Eighteen months of the Physical Education/Christian Living teaching combination opened up a position at Ellenbrook Christian College for Lewis, now known around ECC as the “Jesus-loving, sport-a-holic teacher” who combines faith with fitness for his students.

But how do young people see Jesus in this soccer-playing, clean-cut young chap?

“For me, I look around at the Earth and see a Creator who designed it. I see myself as a broken person, and God presents an actual solution for that. He paid for all my wrongdoings; I can’t pay for them myself. In response, I want to live for Christ, have Him as Lord and serve Him.”

Lewis explains that bringing the Gospel to his students and helping them see the beauty of our Creator is something he loves doing as part of his classes, but he is careful not to be seen as ‘preaching’ to them.  

“Teaching Physical Education allows me to show the students how well-designed our bodies are. We run a Fitness unit that shows the amazing physical capabilities of the human body. Our bodies are these awesome soul-carrying machines, and it is so great to encourage the students to consider their bodies as more than just flesh and bones. We are created and designed beings, made with a purpose.”

“In Year 7, we are looking at Bible stories and showing how they build up to focus on Jesus, but in Year 11 and 12, we look deeper into other world religions and how Christianity fits into the world today.”

Along with the challenge of keeping students engaged, Lewis is very aware that students may bring their own perceptions to the Christian Living class, such as “I’m not a Christian, so why should I care?

“The discussions and talking are important to get students thinking. And it needs to be done in a way that isn’t attacking but helping them be open to new ideas.  Being able to present that in a way that they can understand and relate to is the key for me.”

Final words from the young teacher who needs to go and teach a class of Year 9 students?

“Working at Ellenbrook, seeing all of these different students and teachers, with different demographics and backgrounds –  we interact with so many different people all the time. Every one of us needs Jesus.”

Staff Profile ECC’s Head of Secondary – Mr Matthew Dufty

With a CV that boasts school postings that many of us could only dream about, and more letters after his name than the Welsh alphabet, you can be forgiven for thinking of Ellenbrook’s new Head of Secondary Matt Dufty as an eccentric professor who values statistics more than students.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A chat with the super-intelligent mathematician who grew up with a St Stephen’s education, verges more into Biblical philosophies than Pythagoras’ Theorem, and gives an insight into a man who takes the ‘calling on his life’ very seriously.

“You seek first the kingdom of God. That can mean taking a risk and seeing what happens,” says Matt from his sparsely-decorated office at Ellenbrook Christian College on a Wednesday afternoon.

For some of us, taking a risk might involve changing the brand of milk that we purchase each week in our online shopping order. For Matt Dufty, ‘taking a risk’ has involved studying Education when Medicine was on offer, postponing a Masters’s degree because he wanted more classroom experience or packing his bags for a stint in Papua New Guinea to teach students and open the bible with the locals outside of work.

On studying Education:

“I was a Science and Engineering guy, but I love working with people – to the surprise of many of those around me!”

On postponing the Master of Education, he had begun before teaching his first day in the classroom:

“In order to do research, I needed to ground my practice in the classroom. Research is more valuable when it is done by teachers at the coalface. I try to be in the classroom. I think that’s really important. In school leadership, you’re more sympathetic to the challenges and opportunities that learners and teachers face when you spend time in the classroom. You’re first a teacher; everything else is second. Leadership and educational research come out of being a practitioner.”

On heading to Papua New Guinea as a young teacher:

“I was a teacher during the week at the International School. On the weekends, I worked with the Baptist network in the settlement fellowships there. I had no formal Biblical training, but I thought ‘The Lord taught by teaching stories’ – so I will too.”

Port Moresby is one of the more dangerous locations on the international teaching circuit, a factor that Matt was aware of when he signed up for his stint there.

“I learnt a lot about service there. The locals would be taught their trade skills during the week. This was usually carpentry, and that would take care of their livelihood needs. On the weekends, we had the opportunity to open the Bible with them. I couldn’t speak their language, but an Austrian friend would translate these ‘stories’ line-by-line, sentence-by-sentence in a way that the PNG locals could understand, and they could sit there for hours and take it all in.”

So how does a young chap from Perth end up in Port Moresby teaching locals about the Bible through an interpreter and find comfort in living out of a suitcase for a few years?

For Matt, this was not the first time he had been ‘on the road’, and it would not be his last stop, either.

When he was 12 years old, Matt’s parents decided to spend an entire year travelling through the United States, and they designated Matt as their Head of Finance for the road trip.

“It was amazing – a whole year away from school. I was in charge of the family’s finances, and I was determined to be fiscally responsible! I researched every campground that we could stay at, and by the end of the trip, we came in ahead of budget!”

The trip across the United States was also a time of spiritual awakening for Matt, who was still finding his way in the world.

“I was not always the best of company, not the best-behaved boy on that trip. But, as a 12-year-old, I can remember walking on the shores of Lake Erie and praying a prayer and having a sense that it was heard. I had an earthly father, and I had a Heavenly Father. Previously, when I was 11, I realized that Jesus was the Son of God, after hearing Matthew 9:9-13.”

Returning to Perth, Matt heard a talk at his local school that convinced him that the Christian life was ‘the real deal’ and this lifestyle was worth imitating.

“That Christian staffer, I felt, spoke the words I needed to hear. I had been around religious people before, but this was a person who I wanted to emulate.”

Becoming a Christian is one thing. Finding your purpose in life can take some time, though.

“As a 16-year old I came to the revelation: the meaning of life is to live for Jesus. Of course, it’s biblical. We know that. But it felt as though it was a personal revelation to me.”

Subsequent pouring over the scriptures and being baptized at Duncraig Uniting Church followed. There was no turning back for Matt.

In the same way, the calling to move from Port Moresby to an even more challenging environment came Matt’s way after some prayer: an international school in Jerusalem.

“I had felt the call to serve the peoples of the Middle East. I had been praying about it for many years, and the job was a good fit for me. I knew from Papua New Guinea that I needed to learn the local language if I was to serve to my fullest extent. So, I learnt Hebrew, which I juggled around my work. 

The school is in the hotbed of a conflict zone, and Matt learnt more about the way of life of different Middle Eastern communities. He also met his wife there – Ashley, an American staffer from New Jersey. This led to a move closer to home, to a Jewish school in Melbourne.

During his time in Melbourne, Matt met Dr Gregg Weaver, who later moved to Kalamunda Christian School.

So how did Matt prepare himself for his new life in a new school in SCEA?

Teaching the subject of Christian Living:

“Teaching the scriptures is a fearful thing. There is no doubt about that. The Book of James says that teacher will be held to a higher account”.

Working with staff at ECC:

“You’ve got to serve people. The Lord blesses us overwhelmingly, and we need to make sure our motivations are always pure. God continues to refine all of us each day.”

With two young sons (Elisha, 7 and Luke, 4), Matt has moved into the area and is keen to see the Ellenbrook team (with Mr Mike Pitman and Mrs Michelle Cockrell) achieve great things for the ECC community.

“It’s like the United Nations here. Families from various language and national groups are here. It is an amazing place to teach and be a part of,” says Matt.

Something tells me that Matt Dufty will revel in the multicultural environs of the Ellenbrook community……

Ellenbrook Christian College refreshes its website for a new era of community

We are proud to unveil the new Ellenbrook Christian College website which has been put together by the team at Helium Digital – a Christian website company that has assisted SCEA on some recent projects.

“We wanted to ensure that our ECC Executive Team had a guiding hand in this website refresh, right from the start,” said Mr Mike Pitman, “but John Igglesden and Marisa Streeton were the hands and feet of the operation when we needed to make things happen.”

John Igglesden, ECC’s Marketing Officer and resident worship guitarist completed the work in consultation with Helium Digital and is happy that the site is now considered ‘LIVE’.

“School sites have two main roles: to show off the school and to quickly provide relevant information. This site does both very well,” said John this week.

‘Navigation was a key part of this project. We wanted prospective parents to be able to flow through the site intuitively. We also wanted current parents to be able to find the information they wanted with a minimum of fuss.”

A quick scan of the new site highlights a few of ECC’s trademark qualities: a rolling video loop that demonstrates the College in action, each section of the College showcases its offering as part of a collective Christian community and a strong sense of welcoming to all parts of society. The College boasts students from more than 30 different nations and has worked hard to infuse a Christian sense of ‘loving thy neighbour’ into everything they do.

For the millennial, tech-driven youngsters amongst us, John tells us that there is a new part of website technology known as a ‘mega menu’. He assures us that it will be a hit with the ‘Boomer’ crowd – or indeed anyone who likes websites to be straightforward and easy to navigate.

These new definitions are a bit much to take in. ‘Mega’ and ‘menu’ make me think of a restaurant, not a website.

“That is indeed their real name,” says John.


“It’s called ‘mega’ because it is large. It’s a ‘menu’ because you can choose where you want to go on the site,” he continues.

I love how these young minds educate us on the important things in life…..!

2022 marks new milestone for Ellenbrook Christian College

Despite Perth being in the midst of COVID cases and school being highly disrupted this term, Ellenbrook Christian College (ECC) paused this week to celebrate an enrolment milestone –  600 students!

College Principal Mr Mike Pitman was deferential this week, attributing the pleasing results to his hard-working enrolments team and educators:

“It’s encouraging to know that there is a level of trust in the community for what we are offering at Ellenbrook Christian College. As Christian educators, we value unity within our team and there is a high level of competence which makes our work very enjoyable,” said Mr Pitman.

Enrolments officer and Personal Assistant to the Principal, Mrs Marisa Streeton, has been present for almost every enrolment interview and tour since Mr Pitman began in late 2019. She is constantly taking calls from members of the community who have heard good things about the College.

“I feel like the phone doesn’t leave my ear some days! But I’m so glad that I can be a part of the growth of such a great school,” said Mrs Streeton.

When Mr Pitman isn’t busy welcoming new students to the campus, he is a father to his four grown-up children and grandfather to fifteen grandchildren. Prior to joining Ellenbrook Christian College, Mr Pitman spent time at Swan Christian College Junior School, Kalamunda Christian School, Southern Hills Christian College and Scots College in Sydney.

“Working with a team of enthusiastic and competent people makes all the difference. ECC has a fantastic team of people who care a great deal about what they do and they care for each other. Having that core group of people who are committed gives me a sense of purpose and optimism for the future,” said Mr Pitman.

A quick trip around Ellenbrook’s campus demonstrates the multicultural aspects of the schooling community, with more than 40 different ethnicities represented in the enrolment figures.

“There is a lot to like about what is happening in our classrooms,” said Mr Pitman, “and our teachers are cohesive and coming together really well during this period of online learning and separation due to COVID regulations.”

Well done to Mr Pitman and his team!

Christian Living PD celebrates Swan/Ellenbrook collaboration

Can staff from across SCEA work together and achieve success?

A recent initiative involving young men from Swan Christian College and Ellenbrook Christian College may be a good demonstration of the ‘interdependence’ that SCEA schools are working towards.

Mr Lewis McKerney (Ellenbrook Christian College) and Mr Nathan Schepemaker (Swan Christian College) have taken the opportunity to present a Professional Development (PD) session which highlights the different challenges presented in each of year of secondary education for teenagers, with a single word encapsulating the learning outcomes being presented for Christian Living classes.

A example of the whiteboarding exercise provides some clarity :

Mr McKerney elaborated on why there was a need to closely define the progression needed for teachers and students in this subject:

“Christian Living can sometimes seem like a time-table filler, plugging the gaps where required. Our College Principal Mr Mike Pitman’s goal was for us to create Kindergarten to Year 12  Scope and Sequence Plan for Christian Living that seeks to match content with the stage of the student’s life. “

Mr McKerney called on his Swan buddy, Nathan Schepemaker to help out with this massive task.

Together, they carefully considered the nature of the Ellenbrook community and how this document could inform staff in teaching Christian Living in the secondary years of education. “The goal of the PD was to simply help staff share Christ with their students, regardless of the subject they are teaching. We want to encourage staff to bring Jesus into their classrooms through story.”

Farewell Darren Peakall – Ellenbrook’s Chaplain becomes Pastor to the Indigenous

When Darren Peakall joined Ellenbrook in early 2015 as an ICT site representative, not many staff knew that he was a qualified pilot, a skilled aviator and had the heart of a pastor who was keen to serve.

“The role within SCEA certainly changed quickly, and I am thankful to the amazing people I have been fortunate enough to meet and spend time with over the last seven years. This has been an absolutely awesome journey and one of the highlights of my life,” said Darren this week as he put the finishing touches on his final Chaplain’s message – a video recorded down in Albany in which he speaks of the near-death experience of Steven Matthews and the parallels between Steven’s story and the Christian gospel’s saving grace.

The onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 saw many teachers, principals and chaplains across the country preparing video posts regularly, but it was Mr Peakall’s periodic messages to the community of Ellenbrook Community College (ECC) that saw him dressing up, driving around and finding remote locations to enhance his messages of hope, love and salvation to an ever-growing online audience.

“For me, the joy of being a Chaplain is that I am a part of people’s lives on a day-to-day basis. When COVID stopped that, we had to find ways to connect with students and families again. Thankfully the videos were a success in allowing us to speak into people’s lives.”

Darren took over the role of Chaplain in 2016 and proceeded to log the ‘frequent flyer’ miles in the Toyota Coaster bus, taking Year 9’s to Meekatharra on camps that can only be described as ‘character-building’.

Counselling young people at 2 am in the morning was the exhausting introduction that allowed Darren the opportunity to grow and experience teenagers at their most vulnerable, and perhaps most insufferable state.

The students, who had metamorphosized into ‘butterflies’ by the time they returned to the ECC community as a result of Darren’s patience, presented as much brighter versions of themselves and it seems certain that their parents are forever grateful for his perseverance and kind leading during these times.

“I have the fondest memories of those camps and trips. They are the times when we are stretched and grow and learn so much about ourselves.”

Darren has been stretched in his time at ECC, too.

Four funerals, numerous counselling sessions with students and continued discipleship of staff have been opportunities for Darren over the years to shine a light at times that can seem hopeless and raise questions about our existence in this world.

“How we help people is sometimes the most important part of the process. It is an absolute privilege to serve people at these times. When we are outside of our comfort zones, the most amazing things can happen.”

During his time at SCEA, one of Darren’s most memorable moments came as a cross-school success that saw God’s hand at work amid unusual circumstances. The 2018 Leavers2Leaders trip allowed Darren to partner with Greg Beacham and his group of students from Swan Christian College (SCC).

The SCC team were unable to visit their usual community due to a local conflict, and Darren’s ECC crew partnered with Greg’s team as they served in Cabacungan in a remote part of the Philippines. A Swan student was introduced to the Bible by Darren, and throughout the trip, came to a point of faith. That same student returned to Darren two years later as a 20-year-old and asked Darren if he would carry out the baptism as part of a public profession. Even today, this student and others are part of a regular discipleship program that continues the faith journey that has begun during Darren’s time in SCEA.

At the end of this month, Darren starts a new journey – as a Pastor to the Indigenous for the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church of Australia. He will assist in Perth churches and travel the length and breadth of the state, helping pastors in their towns of Wiluna, Esperance, Derby, Port Hedland and Jigalong as part of his calling to Australia’s first peoples.

“I thank God for every day I had in SCEA. The people are amazing—true missionaries as teachers and workers in Christ. I hope to come back and meet with staff and leaders in the future as my new role permits. But I’m just so thankful for the opportunity over the last seven years.”

ECC’s new face in Student Services – Sarah Berhanu

There are a lot of attributes that could label Ellenbrook’s Sarah Berhanu.


Former Head Girl of Mercedes College.

Qualified Biomedical scientist.

While all of these are true reflections of Sarah, she sees herself differently from these labels.

“I want my identity to be found in Christ,” says Sarah as she attends to primary school students at Ellenbrook’s Santona Boulevard campus.

“I have found that striving for anything that is not eternal is really stressful, and not where your energy should be spent.”

Sarah (pronounced SAA-RA) was born in Perth to Ethiopian parents after they gained refugee status and moved from their home country to a new life in Australia.

As one of the only Africans in her school in Perth, Sarah stood out in her school for a number of reasons. Her mother’s strict upbringing brought academic success and accolades that many of us could only dream about, and Sarah channelled this into her studies and her striving for excellence in the schooling environment.

The yearning for something long-lasting and deeper really hit home for Sarah when she gave her life to Christ in Year 9. At a critical time of life when she was seeking an identity, this saving faith enabled her to see the world around her in a different light. Now, she is seeking to provide that clarity for students in her role in Student Services. The more she opens up about her life, the more you see the servant-hearted nature of this young lady who is seeking to be a listening ear for the young people who call Ellenbrook Christian College (ECC) their home during their schooling years. 

“I know for me, during my teenage years, there was a crisis of identity. I want to make this schooling experience as smooth as possible for our students here.”

Sarah previously worked in health recruitment before a conversation with a church friend led her to the position at ECC.

“I love the face-to-face nature of this role, and I hope that in these small instances of time that I see students I can provide a positive experience for them,” says Sarah as the never-ending stream of students requiring hats and band-aids continues.

Sarah studied Biomedical Science at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and was an integral part of the Christian Union (CU) there. She attends Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bull Creek and enjoys the fellowship of working with Christians in this new environment. With 37 different nationalities at the campus, Sarah’s chances of meeting students from an international background in her role are very high. That happy smile (even behind a mask) is sure to be a welcome relief to any young person who needs a late note, a bandage or just a quick chat before the lunch bell rings.

Keep an eye out for Sarah (remember, its SAA-RA) when you’re around Ellenbrook Christian College.

Ellenbrook celebrates 20th Anniversary with songs of praise

Friday, September 3rd marked a historic day for the Ellenbrook Christian College (ECC) community as they celebrated 20 years of history since their opening in 2001.

The evening commenced with a celebration event for families with hamburgers, a coffee stall run by ECC students, wonderful music and face-painting for the crowd, before the formal Thanksgiving Service started at 6.30 pm.

The service included a video from founding Principal Mr Jack Joyce who recalled the early years of ECC, before Principal Mr Mike Pitman addressed the 200-strong crowd in the gymnasium. Multiple student choirs and the Staff and Student Worship Band sang Christian songs to celebrate the momentous occasion, and ECC alum Ms Jasmine Nguyen (2015) gave the Bible reading.

Other notable tributes came from Mr Greg Wells (Principal from 2004-2013) who emphasised the community aspect of ECC, and Dr Graeme Cross (Chief Executive Officer of SCEA) who noted that ECC was the first SCEA school to be established as a true ‘open-enrolment’ Christian school; meaning all families were invited to enrol, regardless of their faith background.

‘By opening in this way, we were saying ‘you’re welcome!’ to everyone in this community,’ said Dr Cross.

The night concluded with long-time staff members Miss Sharon Hird and Mrs Leigh Harris reflecting on their time at ECC, each sharing from the Bible.

Special thanks to Ms Marisa Streeton and Mr Steven Wellbeloved for organising such an enjoyable and cheerful evening.