by JEFF DILLON
The beginning of the third term saw some familiar faces missing in the roll call of principals at three Dunedin Catholic primary schools.
In two instances long serving principals retired at the end of the second term. In the third case a principal with a number of years at one school switched to take on the role at one of the other two.
Long serving principal Jan Taylor retired from her role at St Bernadette’s Primary School, on Forbury Rd, at the end of the second term. She had announced her intention to retire at the beginning of the 2017 school year.
Mrs Taylor has a 54-year teaching career to look back on. Her 38-year association with St Bernadette’s began in 1979 when she obtained the position of senior teacher of junior classes. In 1982 she became the relieving principal and was appointed as the school’s first lay principal in 1983. It was a role she was to continue in for the next 34 years.
In her time she has seen many changes at St Bernadette’s as Catholic education in Dunedin went through various changes such as the closure of nearby St Edmund’s, which catered for boys at Standard 2, and later the opening of Kavanagh College which saw the loss of the senior girls so that the school catered for just Years 1 to 6 now.
While Mrs Taylor had mixed feelings about retiring, she has many memories to look back on. One of the gifts she received at her farewell was a 50-page book containing messages and pictures from the school wishing her a happy retirement.
A slightly younger retiring principal, Craig Ward, 65, has a 44-year career behind him. In his case he has clocked up 18 years as principal at St Francis Xavier School in Mornington. As he likes to quip, he had been there since the beginning of the century.
Mr Ward will miss the school community but says that the time is right for him to retire. He has 11 grandchildren so while he is leaving his school “family” he is now able to devote more time to his own family.
An aspect of his time as principal with which he is very pleased was the introduction of the “Family Group” concept with older pupils linking with younger pupils at school and playing a part in their growth and involvement. Equally he has found the “restorative” initiatives that were introduced have also taught pupils to respect each other and reconcile differences. There have been few instances of repeat problems after situations have had the restorative techniques applied.
Mr Ward had a rolling series of farewells and presentations. One of his treasured gifts came in the form of a book of cards and best wishes from the pupils and also a book of messages and photos from staff and parents.
The new face at St Francis Xavier is Carmel Jolly, who was previously the deputy principal at the Mornington state primary school nearby.
Another principal who didn’t turn up to her previous school this term is Debbie Waldron.
For the last 13 years Mrs Waldron has been principal at St Peter Chanel School at Green Island. However, she has switched schools and has taken on the position of principal at St Bernadette’s as the replacement for Mrs Taylor.
Her move from her former school to her new one was marked on the first day of the new term by a Mihi Whakatau in which a bus load of pupils, staff and members of the St Peter Chanel community brought Mrs Waldron to St Bernadette’s and she was officially “handed over” to her new school community.
Her appointment during term two saw St Peter Chanel advertise for a replacement. That process reached a conclusion in the first week of the third term with the announcement that a former Dunedin resident, Claire Peters, will be returning to the city to take on the position at the beginning of the fourth term. In the meantime the deputy principal there, Lesley Johnston, has become acting principal for the term.