Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hei kona o Tiori whanau

Thank you to everyone for the wonderful send off yesterday - I feel very touched with the kinds words and appreciation expressed through your words, songs, haka, the kowhai tree and gifts. I will miss Burnham School greatly and will keep in touch. Below is the speech I gave as part of the assembly yesterday.
Kia ora koutou katoa,
Thank you for the lovely farewell today, it means a lot to me to be part of such a great school.

I’m glad that Amelia and my sister Jane can be here today to support me and apologise that Angela and Isabella can’t be here as they had to go to the US unexpectedly earlier this week.

2011 was a year of challenges which provided us all, myself included, with heightened clarity about what is most important - and that is family. As already explained, I am moving on because of our desire for me to be closer to our family, especially while they are young.

Burnham School is a really special and unique place and I’ve loved my time here. As I reflect on the last two and a half years of my life at Burnham School, it strikes me that we’ve achieved a great deal in a rather short space of time and there is much to be proud of.

The variety of improvements and initiatives that the school has developed has been largely due to the amazing staff we have and the support they receive from our Board. One of the major achievements is the development of our own curriculum designed to meet the needs of our community now and in the future. This work, along with many of the initiatives that support it, as now being recognised as what I believe is best practice. One example of this is our elearning system ‘Burnham Ako’ which allows children and whanau to share learning as and when it happens, gaining feedback and therefore strengthening both the learning itself and our partnership. Another example is how we've strengthened taha Maori across our school and the range of initiatives underway as part of the Whanau Hui process.

To the Board and staff team, thank you, your professionalism and desire to continue to learn and improve your practice is truly inspirational. I’d like to take this chance to wish you well for the rest of 2012 and to welcome Sandra Keenan as Acting Principal. With Sandra’s support and guidance the school will continue to develop and grow because of her abilities as an amazing leader for our school.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Principal is getting to know each family and seeing our children develop and learn and I’ve appreciated my contact with each family. Thank you for your ongoing support of your children and our staff to create the best learning possible for your children. I’ve loved working with camp personnel and other organisations to strengthen our connection, in particular Cherie Mansell, Phil McKee, Bill Blair, Trevor Todd, Birgit Bracewell, Cilla Frew, the BOOST team, Denise Sheat and others. There has also been a range of consultants who have supported us in the background - Al, Tom, Christine, Sue, Lois and others. Thank you for your support of me and of our school.

To our children - I think you are fabulous, you are talented, fun, energetic and caring. I want you to know that you can do anything you wish for if you put effort in to it. Keep looking after each other and work to meet your goals, listen to your teachers and parents and enjoy your time at this amazing place.

To that end I’d like to give you a parting gift. This gift is in the form of an award and I’d like explain what this award is for. The symbol behind this award is the koru, which stands for new beginnings, growth and harmony. The double koru symbolises protection and aroha. This award will be mounted on a piece of rimu and is to be given to a person in the school who shows they are solving a problem by showing strength and/or respect towards others; this could mean a problem in the playground or a challenge in their learning - it doesn’t matter what the problem is, what matters is that they are overcoming and showing strength and respect, two of our school values. Ideally the award will stay at school during the week so the class can see and think about it, but it should go home on weekends - as long as you are careful with it! You will get a special certificate to keep to go with this award.

I need to give this out for the first time and I’d like to give it to someone who is well on their way to meeting one of their goals in their learning. This goal relates to solving problems themselves with less help from Mum and Dad and so it shows our value of strength. Please support Breanna Shaw as she comes forward. Well done Breanna, your challenge now is to notice someone else in the school who is solving a problem by showing either respect or strength; discuss this with your friends and teacher first and you can award this at any time - it doesn’t have to be at an assembly or hui.

I will cherish the memories of my time at Burnham School. It is a special and unique environment which has challenged and broadened my skills and abilities. I believe I have grown as a person and as a leader in this school.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Burnham community and lead Burnham School. I look forward to seeing the school move forward and following the progress of our students.


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