Russell principal moving on
Alistair Hudson walked out the gates of Russell School for the final time last week, happy in the knowledge it is in a safe and dedicated pair of hands.
The popular and forthright principal has been at the helm of Russell School for six years, bringing stability and progress to a school that endured its fair share of volatility.
Internal strife led to a personal grievance case and the eventual resignation of long-standing principal David Stanley, and the disintegration of the board of trustees. A commissioner was brought in to manage the school in the interim, before Mr Hudson was appointed in October 2004.
He says the school had been at ‘‘crisis point’’, lumbered with an $80,000 deficit and and very low staff morale. Both have been turned around, with money in the bank, capital works under way at the school, the right ‘‘systems’’ in place and a confident feel to the way the school is operating.
However, Mr Hudson feels the time is right for a change. The school needs ‘‘ new energy and fresh blood’’ and he is positive about his own challenges ahead.
Next year, the 47-year-old will take up the reins at Mangamaire School, just out of Eketahuna, which is decile 9, has 28 pupils from year 1-8 and only ‘‘ 2.4’’ teachers. It’s a world away from a school embedded in Porirua East and decile 1a, but after 10 years out of the classroom, he’s had enough.
‘‘ I’ve got no desire to play gentleman farmer, living on a lifestyle block or anything, but I don’t want to live in the city any more. I would love to stand on my veranda and have a 360-degree view of nature, hills and trees. The time has come for me to go back to my groundings, do what I used to do and ‘walk the walk’ – I will be a principal but I won’t be just pushing paper around a desk any longer.’’
Mr Hudson speaks highly of his replacement Sose Annandale, a born-and-bred local and until now the school’s deputy principal.
‘‘Russell School is poised and it will be fabulous to have a new principal in Sose. She has been my deputy for three years and I think it’s very exciting for a person who has grown up in this community to take charge. I’ve been made to feel welcome in my time here but Sose is someone who knows this area so well, she can lead the school in a way I never could.’’
Handling children who have difficulty learning, and who face ‘‘ other challenges’’ in their environment outside school, will always create pressure for teachers, he says. But teachers in decile 10 schools undoubtedly have their own targets and worries, Mr Hudson says.
The new national standards – something he is particularly critical of – ERO reports and ‘‘ never having enough money’’ are a principal’s lot, which will follow him to Mangamaire.
Mr Hudson is OK with the knowledge he won’t see the building work finished in the next two years, including all of the classroom upgrades. That’s just bricks and mortar. What he will miss is the people.
‘‘I’m going to miss the team we’ve got together here. They are so hard-working, and of course the families, who provide such important feedback for us. But I’ll especially miss these kids – they are, without doubt, some of the most genuine, honest and hardworking people I have come across. But I’ve done my bit, it’s time to move on.’’
Goodbye Mr Hudson!: Alistair Hudson departs Russell School ‘‘in good heart’’ and while he is leaving Porirua he intends on keeping in touch to see how the school continues to develop.