Principal’s Address 26th October 201826th Oct 2018
Kia Ora Tatou
It has been a while since I wrote for the newsletter following my absence for Term 3. I would like to thank Mr McDowall for taking on the role of acting principal during my sabbatical and to acknowledge the support he received from the staff who took on additional responsibilities during the term.
The sabbatical leave was for me an opportunity to fulfil some long held ambitions. As part of the requirements for my application I chose to look at alternative education models. This took me to schools and providers in the UK and USA. In the UK I saw little that was not offered at South Otago High School. The focus there was on vocational/ trades training, the use of the outdoors to promote self confidence and accepting challenges and the adaptation of a school curriculum to meet the needs of students.
In San Francisco I met with Dr Reno Taini who over fifty years ago set up the Community Environmental Education Programme. For over twenty years I have wanted to visit this programme and learn about how it transforms young peoples lives.
For nearly two weeks I worked with and observed the programme in action. This truly was a unique programme working with students who came from varied and challenging educational backgrounds. During the semester that the students participate in the programme they do make significant gains and many return to school and enter into higher education. Whilst there I also met with former students who had graduated from the programme and volunteered to return and support students.
As well as the study aspect for the application there is also a component of rejuvenation. For me this involved travelling to Italy and exploring some of the history around the First World War and front line that ran through the Alps. I also took the opportunity to complete some walks which I had tried to do over thirty years ago.
By the end of the term I was ready to return to school and found that I missed the students and staff. I do feel very privileged to have had this opportunity and would like to thank the Board for their support when I made the application last year.
Senior students and mentors have been reviewing the credit status for seniors. Very soon a decision will be made as to who gains study leave and who will be required to continue to attend school and complete the necessary assessments in order to gain their NCEA certificate. The help and support from home as students work to complete this year and make it successful is invaluable.
For Year 9+10 students, teachers are busy preparing for end of year activity days. These days do provide a different learning opportunity and I ask all parents to encourage their children to participate and get involved. Feedback from students is always positive.
Water Only November
Next month is ‘Water Only Month’ as part of a healthy school promotion. The school will be reviewing whether we continue to offer the high sugar drinks in the canteen. Next week we will be starting the promotion of this event and once again we ask family/ whanau to support this by encouraging students to choose a water only option for a drink.
This term is very short. There is a little over six weeks until the end of the school year. This does mean that both staff and students are very busy. For students, personal organisation is critical. Support from home and checking in is critical. I expect that all students will have a positive finish to the year and be working to ensure that they all achieve their full potential.
Ka kite ano