Nearly five and a half years ago, I won a position as Principal of the newly established Te Karaka Area School, 32 km NorthWest of Gisborne. I began at the end of August 2010, and the school opened in February 2011. We are now nearing the end of our fifth year in operation. Many of our learners are vulnerable learners who have not been well served by education systems of the past. Hopefully they are now being better served.
These five years have been amazing. We have all learnt so much. We have learnt that innovation is not only as possible in a lower decile school as it is in a higher decile school, but that it is vital. We have learnt that buildings don't make innovative practice happen- its teachers and students and a trusting BOT that do that. We have learnt that schools can operate in order to be personally responsive to the needs of every individual learner- that the don't need to be a machine focused around restrictive structures like timetables and traditions who’s time is way past. We have learnt that learning can look way different than it has in the past and still be learning.
Ive seen both students and staff grow in so many ways and take some giant leaps of faith that is now represented in their daily practice.
And me, personally- what do I get out of the last five years? I have learnt what it truly is to live in a bicultural world. My life has been immensely and forever enriched by the students, staff and whānau I have worked with; by developing an understanding of their culture and beginning to understand their language.
What I have gained at Te Karaka has been incredibly more enriching than the normal trajectory of going onto be a Principal of a bigger school, like many people expected.
I now understand a corner of Aotearoa I didn't know existed five years ago and I appreciate so much more about the history of this beautiful country and its inhabitants- especially our indigenous cultures and people.
So it was with some sadness last week that I announced to our BOT, staff, students and community that I am leaving at the end of this year.
I feel privileged to have been offered and accepted a position as a Director of Learning at Haeata (formerly known as Aranui Community Campus) in Christchurch.
I am truly excited by this position and the opportunities and challenges it will bring. I am looking forward to the move and the possibilities.
But for now I will spend the remaining four weeks of school soaking up everything I can in Te Karaka.
Thank you to Andy and the eBOT at Haeata for having faith in me and giving me the opportunity to join your exciting venture as the next stage of my educational journey.
Thank you TKAS whanau- there will be proper goodbyes said later, but thank you for everything.