Former associate principal Peta Lindstrom has been appointed principal of a school that doesn’t exist yet — at least in bricks and mortar form. Mrs Lindstrom started earlier this term as the founding principal of Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School, in Takanini, south Auckland.

Mrs Lindstrom told NZ Catholic that she had come from Star of the Sea school in east Auckland, where she began 16 years earlier as a classroom teacher, became curriculum facilitator and then associate principal.

At this stage Mrs Lindstrom is working quite closely with Philip Cortesi, the chairman of the Holy Trinity establishment committee.

Her initial teaching career, she said, was in Northland and Whangarei, “which is where I met Philip”.

Mr Cortesi explained that he was then an adviser with the education department, based in Whangarei.

Mrs Lindstrom taught years 7 and 8 at Pompallier College at one stage, reinforcing a strong family connection.

“My brothers had been at the college, so we had quite an association with the school. And all the boys had been head prefects at the school, and I was head prefect at Whangarei Girls’.”

Their father was in the police, but once her eldest brother started high school, he stopped moving from place to place.

“I taught at some state schools before I moved into the Catholic system. . . I am not seeing myself moving away from that now,” she said.

She thought part of the specialness of the Catholic education system was the building of witness and service in community. “Being able to be involved in the spiritual dimension of the little ones and give them the opportunity to know and to love God. . . . The way God asks us to live our lives and to be part of other faith families and the parents as well and the school and the parish, and I think we stand alone in that sense, in that working together and establishing these relationships.”

She believes schools have a strong role in evangelisation, particularly if done in relationship with the parish. When she first started teaching, many of the children she saw at school would then be seen at sport, and then on Sunday. “But it’s not so noticeable today,” Mrs Lindstrom said.

Asked about her view on the differences between primary and secondary schooling, she said she thinks they are different structures, but the education landscape has also changed rapidly.

A lot of that is to do with digital technology. “What’s happening in the primary [system] is being replicated in the secondary and vice versa.”

That was one of the positives about the changing education structure, she said. “At the moment schools are less isolated, so you aren’t sitting in your own silos at the moment, so there’s a lot more collaboration between schools, especially with Catholic schools where there’s quite a clear pathway from primary to secondary.”

Secondary schools want to know where the new students are coming from, and they have a great start at primary school.

It is not just academic performance, but she thinks it is happening with respect to the social and personal development of the children as well.

“The more we work together and [work] to smooth that to allow that transition . . . that’s really powerful,” she said.

Holy Trinity school is to open next year.

Mr Cortesi explained that they are planning to start the children on February 7. “That’s the latest possible date we can start next year, and they say it will be ready. And if it’s not ready, they will have to provide us with something.”

It will be a staged build, Mrs Lindstrom said, with up to 250 pupils initially. They will come from the Takanini area.

It’s a huge growth area, she said and, Mr Cortesi pointed out, will also include Ardmore and Clevedon. Mrs Lindstrom said that because it is a big site (about 16ha), another parish centre might eventually be developed there.

A new state school is also due to open in the same area at the beginning of next year.

Mrs Lindstrom said they are keen for the school to be a community place with a sense of belonging for everyone in the school community.

At the end of May interviews were held for a senior leadership team, which will work with her from terms 3 and 4. “So we will look at advertising and appointing the rest of our teaching staff from term 4, ready for the start [of 2017].”