School’s out for Jochem
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.