Denis Fitzgerald


Professor Tony Vinson


Dr Lindsay Connors


Lisa Forrest


Frank Moorhouse


Jane Caro


Dr Paul Brock


Chris Bonnor


James McAlpine


Judy King


Christopher Carroll


Maurie Mulheron


Judy Goodley


Debbie Lowe


Gary Zadkovich





The school’s motto since 1917, Excelsior, is the comparative form of Excelsus, Latin for high or lofty, Excelsior then means Reaching Higher. Longfellow, the American poet, provided Keira’s first teaching staff with the inspiration to adopt the word Excelsior as our motto. Longfellow wrote a poem on the incessant aspiration for youth to achieve, ending with the line, “A voice replied, ‘For up the height, Excelsior’”.




In 2001, Keira High School inaugurated an annual commemoration of the achievements of public education called the Excelsior Lecture. Each year the address is delivered at the school's Annual Presentation Evening. The aim of the address is to provide an esteemed member of the Australian community an opportunity to reflect on the critical role public education plays in developing Australia as a fair, affluent and democratic society.

Past speakers have been Mr Denis Fitzgerald, President of the Australian Education Union, Professor Tony Vinson, Chair of the Public Inquiry into the Provision of Public Education in NSW, Dr Lindsay Connors, Chairperson of the Public Education Council of NSW, Ms Lisa Forrest former Olympic swimmer, television host, actor and author, Mr Frank Moorhouse, internationally renowned novelist and essayist (Mr Moorhouse was the first ex-Keira student to deliver the Excelsior Lecture), Ms Jane Caro, award winning advertising writer and convener of Priority Public, Dr Paul Brock AM FACE Director, Learning and Development Research Office of the Director-General, NSW Department of Education and Training Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education and Social work, The University of Sydney Honorary Research Fellow,  University of New England Honorary Associate, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Sydney Vice Patron, Motor Neurone Disease Association NSW, Mr Chris Bonnor, former secondary school principal, former President of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, joint author (with Jane Caro) The Stupid Country: How Australia is Dismantling Public Education (2007), Mr James McAlpine, President of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council and Vice President of Australian Secondary Principals’ Association, Ms Judy King, Principal of Riverside Girls High School, Mr Christopher Carroll, former School Education Director for Illawarra and South East Region and current Director of Outlook Education Consultancy,  Maurie Mulheron, the current President of the NSW Teachers Federation and immediate past Principal of Keira High School, Mrs Judy Goodley, a class room teacher of Keira High School who retired in 2014 following a career of 30 years in public education. Last year’s speaker was Ms Debbie Lowe, Director Public Schools NSW for the Wollongong North Principal’s Network and has worked in public education settings for over 30 years.

The 2015 speaker was Gary Zadkovich, Deputy President of the NSW Teachers Federation.  Gary was born in Roma, Queensland.  He attended seven primary schools as his parents relocated to take up new employment in various parts of the state.  He completed his secondary education at Harristown State High School in Toowoomba. After leaving high school, Gary worked for four years in a variety of labouring, clerical and service jobs in Australia and overseas.  He completed university studies with a Bachelor of Arts (USQ) and Bachelor of Educational Studies (UQ). He commenced work as a teacher in 1983. Gary taught English and History in high schools in country Queensland and south west Sydney, before being elected as an officer of the NSW Teachers Federation in 1991.  Whilst on leave from this role, he taught for a short time at Keira High School in 2005. He has worked for  the Teachers Federation as an Organiser, Media Officer, Senior Vice President and is currently Deputy President.  

Dr Paul Brock AM FACE was the 2007 speaker. He was Director, Learning and Development, Research Office of the Director-General, NSW Department of Education and Training; Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney; Honorary Research Fellow, University of New England, Honorary Associate, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Sydney; Vice Patron, Motor Neurone Disease Association, NSW. Dr Brock passed away on March 25, 2016.


Download Dr Brock's full address as a PDF.


Details of the 2016 speaker will be advised as soon as these are available.