School’s out for Jochem

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - SAM KILMIS­TER

When Dirk Jochem be­came the prin­ci­pal of Ki­witea School in ru­ral Manawatu, he said to him­self, ’’you got into ed­u­ca­tion to teach, not drive a desk’’.

After 17 years in the job, and 45 years in the dis­trict, Jochem has sounded the full­time siren but re­tires know­ing he never lost sight of why he be­came a teacher.

‘‘I started teach­ing and it was all on a black­board - it was a very chalk and talk style of teach­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘Now, with in­ter­ac­tive white­boards, it’s a guide-by-the-side style of teach­ing and that’s thanks to tech­nol­ogy. I’ve been through the whole tran­si­tion and tech­nol­ogy is largely a good thing, but there can be some fish hooks,’’ he said.

Jochem started teach­ing at Wainuiomata in 1971 be­fore ven­tur­ing north. He spent 19 years teach­ing at Waituna West, be­fore tak­ing the prin­ci­pal’s role at Ki­witea School in 1999.

Born in Hol­land, Jochem’s fam­ily moved to New Zealand when he was eight. Two weeks ago, more than 50 years since ar­riv­ing in the coun­try, he fi­nally be­came a New Zealand cit­i­zen at a cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony at the Manawatu Dis­trict Coun­cil.

‘‘I’m fi­nally a Kiwi. It’s been a pretty good month,’’ he said.

‘‘I was in the sixth form and I didn’t know what to do. I was al­ways good with kids so mum said to me ’why don’t you be­come a teacher?’

‘‘In that re­spect I’ve ful­filled my mother’s dream.’’

Un­der Jochem, Ki­witea School now has an as­tro turf, a heated swim­ming pool, an ad­ven­ture play­ground, Ap­ple iPads and in­ter­ac­tive white­boards.

‘‘I’d like to think I’ve driven Ki­witea very much into the 21st cen­tury and I’ve al­lowed the kids to think for them­selves.

‘‘I’ve given the kids the tools to be adapt­able.’’

Jochem said pupils from ru­ral schools of­ten did well, with many of his stu­dents go­ing onto win dux awards at Nga Tawa and Feild­ing High School in re­cent years.

It sad­dened him to see small ru­ral schools get­ting closed.

‘‘That’s what’s hap­pen­ing to ru­ral schools - Chel­tys gone down the tube, Rangi­wahia’s gone down the tube.

‘‘There will al­ways be a place for ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion be­cause we do a great job. Stu­dents from ru­ral schools are well pre­pared for high school. They have a lot of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,’’ he said.


Ki­witea School prin­ci­pal Dirk Jochem out­side the school where he spent the last 17 years.

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