Dr A V G James, BA, D Sc, Dip. Ed

Headmaster from 1941–1947

(This Valedictory was written by a “contemporary Old Boy” – 1947)

The retirement of Dr. A.V.G. James marks the end of a distinguished career, begun at a time of great significance for Victoria education. The State was recovering from the effects of the depression of the nineties when Dr James served his apprenticeship in the teaching service at the Alfred Crescent school, North Fitzroy. In 1902 he entered the recently opened Teachers’ College. There he came under the influence of the late Dr Smyth, a Christian gentleman of very high ideals, who has left an abiding and uplifting influence upon those privileged to study under him.

In his studies in Arts, Science and Education, and in Sport, Dr James was indefatigable. Whatever he undertook, as a student, whether in work or play, was done wholeheartedly. This characteristic still persists.

After a period as head teacher of a rural school in Moliagul, Dr James returned to the Teachers’ College in 1907 as a member of a special Nature Study class under Dr J A Leach. Most of the members of this class (known to their contemporaries as “The Insects”) subsequently occupied important educational posts in the Commonwealth. Then followed a period as special visiting teacher of Nature Study and allied subjects in various parts of the State. In 1910 Dr James entered the secondary branch of the service. Following appointments on the staffs of Geelong, Melbourne, Coburg and Bendigo High Schools, Dr James successfully filled the position of head master at St. Arnaud, Colac and Dandenong High Schools.

A period overseas coincided with the coronation of the late George VI. After his return from abroad, Dr James was temporarily attached to Northcote High School, and on 13th May, 1941, was appointed head master of the newly established Camberwell High School. Except for part of the war period, when Camberwell High School was occupied by the Melbourne Boy’s High School, following the taking over of the latter school by the Defence Department, Dr James has continued as headmaster at Camberwell.

In the long vacations and in other rare moments of leisure, Dr James pursued his geological researches. His work was finally rewarded in 1937 by the conferring of the Degree of Doctor of Science by his Alma Mater, the University of Melbourne. His geographical publications, both for primary and secondary schools, are well known in educational circles throughout the Commonwealth.

Dr James has seen the Camberwell High School gradually expanding and improving, a worthy foundation being laid for the future development of the school. The inscription “Si monumentum requiris circumspice”, which appears in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, as a tribute to Sir Christopher Wren, might well be applied to Dr. James as the first head master of Camberwell High School.

On the eve of his retirement from active service as head master he is able to look back upon a long period of very worthy educational service in Victoria. All who have known him for nearly half a century wish Dr. James every happiness in the years to come, and trust that he will belong spared to do many of the things he wished to do, free from the calls of the daily duties of a head of a large metropolitan secondary school.