Wednesday, 13 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Students stage a musical farewell for retiring principal

An extravaganza of student talent along with some wonderful tributes combined at Te Rerenga school on Tuesday last week as the community gathered to farewell retiring principal, Anna Yates.

The head teacher made the difficult decision to step down recently due to health reasons. Despite the emotion of the of the occasion, Anna was upbeat in addressing the large crowd in the school hall.

“There are a lot of feelings today, but more than anything else I’m very grateful. During my time here at Te Rerenga school I have always felt extremely grateful to be working with such an amazing and hard-working group of teachers and students,” she said.

Reflecting on her time at the school, where she first worked as a relief teacher, she said it had been a time of enormous learning. “I never had aspirations to be a principal, but what a privilege it has been to work with our staff and students. I think they’ve taught me more than I ever taught them.

“I’ve loved it all, from putting plasters on sore knees to sticking dirty stickers on a chart, the chats, remembering what it was like to be a child myself.”

Anna thanked the Te Rerenga Board of Trustees, staff and parents for allowing her to continue to remain in her role as principal for as long as possible. “It has been a difficult 18 months for all of us, but coming here made me happy and made me strong, so thank you all for your patience.”

Board of Trustees chair, Richard White, described Anna as a progressive leader, always doing more than just what was necessary.

“Our school has blossomed with Anna at the helm. Seven or eight years ago, things weren’t great to say the least. Anna didn’t exactly take the helm of a well-oiled machine. She had to do the work and the study required of a first-time principal, but she stepped up and made a difference. She has worked tirelessly and, while student achievement has always been at the forefront, it’s not just about that. Anna has created a culture here. We see the confidence within our kids, the belief they have in themselves and the pride in their school. We see it when they go out and compete on the sports-field and frequently punch way above their weight,” he said.

Richard said school was about more than just dropping kids off at the gate.

“So much of what is positive in a community comes back to what happens at school. There are people who maybe would not have moved here if it wasn’t for our school. It changes lives and I’ve seen people making lifelong friendships through the school. People want to get involved again and our newly formed PTA has been a huge success,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the teachers and principals of the Coromandel Community of Learning, lead principal, Brendan Finn, said Anna’s understanding of education was second to none. “When you come into Te Rerenga school, if you don’t hear singing, it’s not a normal day. The talent is simply amazing, the school is so bright and there is such a positive feeling and that’s a reflection of how Anna operates. In terms of our Kāhui Ako, I couldn’t have asked for a better role model to work beside. You’ve achieved so much Anna and you have done it with calmness and grace,” he said.

For their part, the students of Te Rerenga used song and some highly entertaining movie-making skills to express their thanks to their principal. From Room 1’s “You are My Sunshine” to Room 4’s passionate rendition of “Happy” the heartfelt tributes left Anna beaming with pride. The performance of Katy Perry’s “Roar” on drums and vocals by Anna’s daughter, Sophie, was a special stand-out.

Anna was presented with a number of gifts, including a specially engraved school bell. “I leave school knowing that our children are all so lucky to be taught by such amazing teachers in such a special, happy place. I will continue to be a familiar face at school as a parent and also to work with the children on a few remaining projects,” she said

Acting principal, Mary Kedzlie, will remain at the helm at the school and the Board of Trustees will advertise the position of principal in the coming weeks.

Caption

Pictured: From the left, retiring principal of Te Rerenga school, Anna Yates, with her daughter, Caitlyn Yates, teacher, Helen Rhind, and Year 4 student, Angelina Rore-Stephen, who presented Anna with a farewell gift on Tuesday last week.

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